An alternative formula for picking your target zone for cardio training

UPDATE Nov. 29, 2014: I’ve added a calculator to do the math!

HRreserve Calculator

Now, people who have been following along with me for a while know that I don’t think that you should build a caloric-deficit around going to the gym.  Get your diet nailed down right first, and then exercise can be thought of as ‘free weight loss”.

That said, there’s a lot of benefits to your overall health by adding regular cardiovascular training, without doubt.   So, with all that in mind, what’s the best way to go about this?

Everyone knows that our philosophy here is to minimize the clutter and noise.  Focusing on the relevant metrics is the key.   I  think everyone agrees that heart rate is the way to go here.

So, how does one determine their target heart rate?

I recently had a conversation with an exercise physiologist, and we discussed Karvonen’s work in deriving target heart rates. Karvonen suggested a percentage, not of maximum heart-rate, but rather of heart-rate reserve.  The difference between resting and maximum heart rate.

Let’s work a real-world example:

46 years old with a resting heart rate (HRrest) of 67

HRmax = 220 - Age
      = 220 - 46
HRmax = 174

HRreserve = HRmax - HRrest 
          = 174 - 67
HRreserve = 107

Now, we want to train between 70% and 80% of that HRreserve. You really should discuss these goals with your family doctor if you have any questions, of course.

70% of HRreserve = ( .7 * 107 ) + 67
                 = 75 + 67
                 = 142 ( I consider this my base goal )

80% of HRreserve = ( .8 * 107 ) + 67
                 = 86 + 67
                 = 153 ( Rocking and Rolling! 
                         This is where I want to be when I work out )

90% of HRreserve = ( .9 * 107 ) + 67
                 = 96 + 67
                 = 163 ( You *cannot* sustain this for long! )

The answer, for me in this example is:  30 mins @ greater than 150 BPM 3x/week 

I set the cruise control at 150, relax and enjoy the exercise! We’ll talk about why I like this over the more conventional methods of deriving training rates another time.

Posted in Exercise