What is Heart Rate Training?


What is Heart Rate Training?

Happy Monday, Friends!

We’ve recently added heart rate training to our class options. Most of our classes have the Fitmetrix real-time heart-rate tracking system running on our TV displays in our main gym and spinning studio.

We highly recommend giving it a try. We have 17 classes a week which use real-time, in class, heart rate tracking. Spinning, Inspire FIRE, Inspire FIT, Mixed-muscle Madness, and our newest addition, PULSE, which is specifically designed for zone training.

Maxing out your heart rate every time, all the time, is the common misconception of what the purpose of heart rate training is and that you’re not doing it right if you don’t.

This could not be farther than the truth. And, unfortunately, this #fakenews deters many from giving it a try.

So, we thought we would enlighten the masses by helping everyone understand the real purpose behind heart rate training . And, as opposed to re-inventing the wheel, we are going to let Bryan Tomak of Active.com explain:

Using a Heart Rate Monitor to Improve Fitness

“Your heart rate is measured by the amount of times it beats per minute. During a rested period, a lower heart rate is actually optimal. This is because a stronger heart pumps more blood to your system per beat than a weaker heart, thus requiring less beats per minute.

Because your heart is a muscle–it becomes stronger as you exercise it. During an aerobic workout, large groups of your body’s muscles are used over an extended period of time in a consistent, rhythmic manner. 

When being worked this way, your muscles demand oxygen. The harder you work your muscles, the more oxygen they require. This oxygen is supplied to your muscles from your lungs via the bloodstream. As a result, your heart pumps faster during a workout in an effort to deliver the additional oxygen that your muscles are demanding. 

Measuring your heart rate using a heart rate monitor is a good way to gauge the effectiveness of your workout because as you strengthen your body through exercise, you also strengthen your heart. Measuring the rate of your heart during exercise can help you determine when you’re pushing your body too hard or need to push it harder to achieve the level of fitness you are seeking. 

In order to understand how to condition your body by analyzing your heart rate, it’s important to understand the four different types of heart rate. They are as follows.”

Resting Heart Rate 

Your resting heart rate is the rate that your heart beats per minute during periods of the day when you are most relaxed. Your RHR can be measured after you get out of bed or during a period of the day when you’re sitting or relaxing comfortably. 

Although heart rates vary between individuals, the average RHR for a man is between 60 to 80 beats per minute. The average for a woman is between 70 to 90. An adult in good shape can have an RHR of in the low 60’s while an unhealthy RHR can be as high as 100. A very well conditioned athlete can have an RHR in the 40’s. To get an accurate measurement of your resting heart rate by using a heart rate monitor you should take measurements at different rested periods of the day over the course of a week — and then average them out. 

Maximum Heart Rate 

Your maximum heart rate is the peak amount of beats that your heart has the potential to reach. You’ll reach your MHR when you’ve pushed your heart as far as it can go during an aerobic workout. 

It’s extremely difficult to accurately measure your MHR. Experienced endurance athletes do so at fitness laboratories using an electrocardiogram (ECG). Because this measurement is so sophisticated, scientists have developed a formula that everyone can use. 

To get an idea of your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220. With this formula, if you’re 35, your MHR would be 185. This formula is not an exact science and does not ensure complete accuracy. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that it can be dangerous attempting to measure your maximum heart rate, as you can cause serious damage to your body if you push it too hard. 

Training Heart Rate 

Your training heart rate is the rate that you maintain during aerobic workouts in an effort to improve fitness. In order to properly train with a heart rate monitor, you should work out at a steady, rhythmic pace. This will allow you to capture consistent measurements. 

The right number to train at depends on your fitness goals and is widely debated among professionals. To promote general fitness you can train as low as 50 percent or as high as 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. 

For more experienced athletes, it’s argued that this number can be above 70 percent and as high as 80 percent of your MHR. The lower numbers are recommended for beginners. You’ll likely reach the 50 – 60 range while briskly walking. You’ll likely reach the 60 to 70 range while running for a steady period of time. And at 70 to 80 you are running at a quick pace for extended periods of time. 

Recovery Heart Rate 

It’s important to give your body proper rest after a workout. Your recovering heart rate is the rate that you should bring your heart down to after a workout. A good number to go by is 20 beats within your pre-workout resting heart rate. 

How Heart Rate Monitors Work 

Using a heart rate monitor is very simple. The most effective monitors measure your heart rate with a transmitter that is placed over the heart and held in place by an adjustable strap that wraps around your chest. Just like an electrocardiogram (ECG) the transmitter detects electrical activity. This activity is relayed by a cord connected to a wristwatch with a graphic display. 

There are a variety of heart rate monitor models on the market. The most basic monitors simply display your heart rate. More advanced models have features that include alarms that sound when you’ve gone above or below your pre-programmed number. Other features can include pre-programmed workouts, countdown timer, calories burned and more. 

To go into further detail, let’s talk about the heart rate zones.


We all have a personal resting heart rate, “a minimum heart rate” , and a maximum heart rate. And between these values are different heart rate zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit.

There are different ways to specify your heart rate zones. One simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this introduction.

Heart rate zones can be defined as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

Heart rate zones are closely linked to your aerobic and anaerobicthresholds.


There are five different zones, 1–5, and your training plan can include workouts in all these five zones.

Below is a breakdown of what each heart rate zone means and what the benefits of training in that heart rate zone are.


This is the very low intensity zone. Training at this intensity will boost your recovery and get you ready to train in the higher heart rate zones.

To train at this intensity, pick sports during which you can easily control your heart rate, such as walking or cycling.


Exercising in heart rate zone 2 feels light and you should be able to go on for a long time at this intensity.

This is the zone that improves your general endurance: your body will get better at oxidizing – burning – fat and your muscular fitness will increase along with your capillary density.

Training in heart rate zone 2 is an essential part of every runner’s program. Keep at it and you’ll reap the benefits later.


Training in heart rate zone 3 is especially effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles. This is the zone in which that pesky lactic acid starts building up in your bloodstream.

Training in this HR zone will make moderate efforts easier and improve your efficiency.


Heart rate zone 4 is where the going gets tough. You’ll be breathing hard and running aerobically.

If you train at this intensity, you’ll improve your speed endurance. Your body will get better at using carbohydrates for energy and you’ll be able to withstand higher levels of lactic acid in your blood for longer.


Heart rate zone 5 is your maximal effort. Your heart and your blood and respiratory system will be working at their maximal capacity. Lactic acid will build up in your blood and after a few minutes you won’t be able to continue at this intensity.

If you’re just starting out or have only been training for some time, you probably won’t have to train at this intensity. If you’re a professional athlete, look into incorporating interval training into your training plan for peak performance.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the #realnews of heart rate training. We invite you to give it a try sometime at CrossFit Sona.

You can find our schedule here, and your first class is always on us!

If you have any comments, questions or feedback, please reach out to me personally at [email protected]

~Traci Meier