Have you ever seen someone out for a run with a black strap around their chest? What about someone with on the machine next to you who’s wearing a fancy-looking watch? These things may seem gimmicky, but our advice: don’t knock it till you try it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned gym-goer or brand new to fitness. If you’re not paying even a little bit attention to your heart rate during your workout, you’re potentially holding yourself back in a big way.
Why You Should Monitor Your Heart Rate
There’s this concept in the medical world called “minimal effective dose.” It refers to the least amount of medication required to produce the desired results. Any less than this amount, the medicine won’t do anything. Any more, then it could potentially cause harm.
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Same goes for your heart rate while exercising. If during a cardio workout, you’re not getting your heart rate up high enough, then you’re not maximizing the potential benefits of said cardio. Equally, if your heart rate gets too high (it can and does happen), then you may be running (pun intended) yourself into trouble. This can happen to people who try to do too much too soon without the requisite training ahead of time.
Remember: Your heart is a muscle. Underwork it, and it won’t get stronger. Overwork it, and you could injure it.
The Target Heart Rate: What It Is And How To Find It
How fast should your heartbeat during a workout? You can figure this out by determining your target heart rate. This is a specific range (measured in beats per minute) you should aim for while working out. It’s based on percentages of your absolute maximal “safe” pulse rate, which is determined by subtracting your age from the number 220.
To keep things simple, let’s look at a hypothetical 20-year-old person. The fastest this person’s heart can beat safely is 200 beats per minute (220-20 = 200). This is not how fast the person’s heart should be beating for the duration of their workout. In fact, they may only hit this maximal heart rate in brief all-out sprints, if at all.
To determine this person’s target heart rate, we need to look at 65 – 85% of their maximum heart rate and aim for those numbers. This means that for the average 20-year-old, their target heart rate should be between 130 and 170 beats per minute.
So, should you aim low or high in that range? That depends on a lot of things, including the goal of your workout (e.g., fat burning vs. building aerobic capacity), your current level of fitness, and your overall health. Not totally sure? Speak with a coach or trainer to help you figure out the best target heart rate for you, based on your needs.
Best Ways To Track Your Target Heart Rate
It’s inconvenient and probably ineffective to stop and manually measure your pulse while working out. Fortunately, PC Magazine recently posted a review of the best heart rate monitors available on the market today. These come in a range of styles and prices and most of them offer some pretty cool ways to track and store your data.
Do you have an experience with heart rate monitors? Let us know about it in the comments!