How to calculate training heart rate

Is Heart Rate Based ENDURANCE Training An Effective & Superior Method For Developing Cardiorespiratory Fitness? EndurElite Endurance Guru Matt Mosman Has Your Answer.

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Is Heart Rate Based ENDURANCE Training An Effective & Superior Method For Developing Cardiorespiratory Fitness?

Bump bump, bump bump, bump bump, bump bump. I heart you, endurance friends. Hey, good morning. Matt Mossman here, Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite, the maker of premium supplements for endurance athletes, and endurance training, and supplement experts. As you can tell by my little animation there this morning, we're gonna talk about a topic that has to do with your heart. And it's something I personally have a love-hate relationship with. And this is heart rate based endurance training. So today, we're gonna talk about kind of the theory behind heart rate based training, the pros of it, the cons of it, and kind of end with if it's, you know, a more effective or superior method of training, when it comes to running or riding or other endurance activities, compared to other methods being used. So let's just jump right into it.

What Is Heart Rate Training?

So the whole theory based around heart rate training is you exercise in certain zones for certain benefits. So it all starts with determining your maximum heart rate. And the most common way to do this is to take 220 minus your age. So, for an old fart like me, but I can still kick you young whippersnappers' asses, that would be 220 minus 40. So, in theory, my maximum heart rate should be 180 beats per minute. And that's would be if I was going for, you know, full throttle in a race or a workout, or something like that. So once you have your maximum heart rate established, then you assign certain percentages to certain zones. So, for example, 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate would kind of be that recovery zone. You know, the pace you're going at the day after a hard workout.

From there, 70% to 80%, that would kind of be more of your aerobic zone. And this is where you do the majority of your training and to really develop your cardiorespiratory system. From there, 80% to 90% is considered you're lactate threshold zone to basically, as the name implies, improve your lactate threshold, you know, by incorporating tempo runs and then things of that nature. And then the last zone, the 90% to 100% zone, is your anaerobic training zone, which helps develop veoh to max. Now, these percentages will differ, depending how fit you are, but those serve as the basic guidelines. So that's kind of the theory behind, you know, heart rate based endurance training that kinda gives a convenient, easy way to establish your zones and schedule workouts and easy runs around them.

What Are The Benefits Of Heart Rate Training?

Now, what are the pros of heart rate based training? One, it may be a good way to gauge intensity. Two, it may be a good way to monitor progress. And three, like we just talked about, is it may be an effective way to establish your zones. Now, those are the pros. But you've noticed I said maybe. And this is where we kind of get to the cons of a heart rate based endurance training.

The Cons Of Heart Rate Training

Heart rate can be affected by a lot of things that could throw, you know, those zones off. One, stress, and this is all supported by scientific research. Stress can raise heart rate by four to six beats per minute. Things like sleep deprivation can raise resting heart rate by 5 to 10 beats per minute. Dehydration can elevate heart rate by 5% to 7.5%. And then things like weather, if it's really hot...that can really elevate your heart rate as well. And, on the same token, you know, if it's really, really cold, then that can lower your heart rate. Not to mention another flaw with heart rate training since it does operate off maximum heart rate, I mean, to really get that, you need to go into a lab and have a graded exercise test done to get an accurate maximum heart rate.

The Best Way To Calculate Your Max Heart Rate

The "220 minus your age" method is for average, you know, and a lot of you endurance athletes aren't average. Like, for example, you know, if I use that equation, the 220 minus my age, that should give me a maximum heart rate of 180, like I said before. But when I've gone to lab before, about two weeks ago, my maximum heart rate is actually 195 beats per minute. And then you get into things like accuracy of heart rate monitors.

Most Watches That Measure Heart Rate Aren't Accurate

You know, I love my Garmin Phoenix for, you know, tracking paces and things like that, but when it comes to monitoring heart rate, it's pretty much worthless. There's lots of studies out there that's showing, you know, Garmins, Fitbits, and other devices that measure heart rate on the wrist. You know, the variants can be, you know, anywhere off from 5 to 20 beats per minute. If you wanna use a heart rate monitor, you know, Polar, with the chest app, is probably one of the best ones out there.

So you can see, you know, lots of flaws or how some variables can really throw off, you know, if you were to throw off heart rate, if you're using heart rate based training. Now, for me personally, like I said, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I don't like it because of that variance, one. Two, I get way too caught up in the numbers, you know, if I don't hit certain zones, you know, it pisses me off. And, you know, I feel myself just like getting so caught up until, you know, watching the numbers on my heart rate. And if I'm not in those zones, you know, I feel like, you know, the effort is wasted.

What Are Some Other Methods To Measure Intensity During Exercise?

So if you don't, you know, use heart rate based endurance training, what are some other effective methods? One, you know, for running, is pace training, you know, having certain paces assigned to certain efforts. Now, that has its downfalls too, but I like it a lot better. I would highly recommend picking up Jack Daniels' Running Formula for some more information on that. If you're a cyclist, you could use power output to assign zones as opposed to heart rate. And then, you know, probably, the simplest way, and one I really like, is just basing all your training off a Rating of Perceived Exertion. And that's just using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the easiest, and 10 being the hardest, to gauge your efforts.

Now, I like this, you know, especially on ease days, because I could be wearing a heart monitor and be, you know, at, you know, 70% maximum heart rate, and it still might feel hard. But if I use RPE, I can just, you know, decrease it till it feels really, really easy, without having to worry about a number. Now, I realize, you know, sometimes it's gonna be uncomfortable when you do hard workouts and you need to get them done, and you're gonna be above that zone or, on the same token too, you know, if you're doing recovery days, you gonna be below that zone. But for the most parts, like I said, I would rather use, you know, paces and the Rating of Perceived Exertion scale to determine, you know...or base my workouts around. Also to boot, I am not familiar with any research showing that heart rate based endurance training is superior to these other methods, you know, the pace method or the rating of perceived exertion scale method.

So, to really sum it up, I have no problem with people using heart rate monitors to base their training around. But I think the best way to do it, if you do that, is also just use your head too if, you know, you're on an easy day and you're not staying in your zones, or if you're in a hard day and you're not staying in your zones, don't take that as gospel, you know. Adjust accordingly. Use all three methods. Use the heart rate based training. Use the rating of perceived exertion. Use pace training. Yeah, just use a whole combination of both, and I think, you know, that's gonna be a lot more beneficial, as opposed to just getting caught up in the stray numbers of heart rate training.

So that's about it for now, my endurance friends. If you like this video, please share. Comment below with any questions. If you want more content like this, go to And until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast.