One of the great tools offered by a treadmill is the heart rate monitor built into almost every machine. A heart rate monitor provides you with an accurate measurement with which to gauge the effectiveness of your workout program, as well as your own fitness level. But of course the built-in tool doesn’t help you if you don’t know how to put it to use in your training, so here are some starter tips.
Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate and Training Zone
A generalized estimation of target heart rate can be achieved with the following formula:
- Start with the number 220 if you’re male or 226 if you’re female, and subtract your age. This number is your estimated maximum heart rate.
- For a simple heart-healthy workout, your target training zone is fifty to sixty percent of the maximum.
- For a fat-burning workout, your target training zone is sixty to seventy percent of the maximum.
- For an aerobic or endurance workout, your target training zone is seventy to eighty percent of the maximum.
- An anaerobic, or performance training workout zone is eighty to ninety percent of maximum.
Of course, as you may have already noted, this formula for calculating maximum heart rate based on nothing but gender and age doesn’t take into account any additional factors such as overweight or obesity, heart problems, or other conditions which might need to be taken into account in assessing the heart rate, which should be your target zone during workout.
A more accurate assessment, if you feel your health or condition might be outside the parameters of the “standardized” maximum estimate, can be gathered from a professional treadmill stress test. Your primary care physician or health club can provide a referral or service for testing.
Selecting the Appropriate Workout and Zone for You
The different training zone heart-rate ranges listed above correlate with workouts for different purposes. The most basic cardio workout, intended simply to keep your heart, circulatory system, and respiration in good condition, is the ideal starting place for a beginning exerciser.
For those advancing in their exercise program, the heart healthy zone is a good target for workout warm-up and cool-down periods. Regular workouts in this zone are statistically proven to decrease percentage body fat, and decrease blood pressure. Additionally, there is very little risk of injury with this level of workout.
The fat-burning or fitness workout provides all the benefits of its mellower heart-healthy cousin, with the addition of boosting the calorie-burning effectiveness of the exercise program. The endurance training or aerobic level of training not only boosts your respiratory and cardiovascular health, but increases the strength of the heart itself. You’ll burn even more calories, and can consider training at this level for an endurance event. The final level of anaerobic or performance training helps to fight fatigue and increase endurance, and most trainers use this level for limited periods interspersed with lighter pacing.