Get in the Zone


Credit: joebeone

If you go to the same classes every week at the gym or do the same 30-minute steady-state workout on the elliptical every day, you might not be seeing the results you want. After all, you can’t just work out; you have to pay attention to how you’re working out!

The Sports Club/LA’s Advantage Trainer Riccardo Specchierla offers the down-low on the benefits of monitoring your heart rate, how to maximize it and stay in the zone. Newbies: This is great basic info. Oldbies: Here’s your heart-rate refresher course!

Benefits of a Heart Rate Monitor

1. Measures intensity of workouts. Time to rest? If you feel like you are working as hard as you can, but your heart rate won’t rise to the prescribed zones, you may need to stop and recover. Time to push? Using a heart rate monitor will tell you if you are working hard enough to achieve the desired zone.

2. Measures total calories burned during workout. Knowing how much time and energy it takes to burn off calories may make you think twice when ordering your daily café latte. This knowledge may also stir up those competitive juices and keep you from resting too long between exercises or chatting with your friends in order to match or burn more calories than your previous workout.

3. Circuit-training feedback. Keeping your heart rate elevated between exercises will increase total calories burned during your workout because the monitor will let you know when it is time to elevate your heart rate again after a strength exercise.

Heart-Rate Zones to Know

Knowing your heart-rate training zones and monitoring your heart rate will make your cardio workouts more effective. Just as your strength training should vary from muscle endurance to power workouts, so should your cardio workouts. To improve all aspects of cardiovascular health, you need to work out in all zones. The benefits range from lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to losing weight and improving your endurance. Working out at different heart rate zones will develop varying aspects of your cardiovascular fitness. These zones are usually based on percentages of your maximum heart rate, which can be determined by testing or calculated through various formulas.

1. Fat Burning or Recovery Zone — 60 to 70 percent. Training within this zone develops basic endurance, aerobic capacity and helps recovery. The Fat Burning or Recovery Zone is the foundation on which all other cardiovascular performance is based. Build a solid foundation and everything on top of that will be even stronger!

2. The Aerobic Zone70 to 80 percent. Training in this zone will improve your cardiovascular system and aerobic fitness. Working out in this zone will also increase your ability to work out longer and at a higher intensity, as well as burn more calories and fat!

3. The Anaerobic Zone — 80 to 90 percent. Training in this zone will improve your maximum performance ability by making your lactic acid system more efficient. This will delay the onset of fatigue at higher intensity work loads. This zone will also lead toward increased caloric expenditure and fat-burning for hours after you’re done with your workout!

4. Maximum Effort Zone — 90 to 100 percent. Training in this zone is only meant for the very fit and experienced. This zone will develop your speed and ability to perform maximal efforts.

Now that you’re armed with heart-rate knowledge, use that knowledge to become more powerful, literally! —Erin

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  1. Amateras says:

    Sooo , do I get a HRM as a FBG Giveaway ? 🙂

  2. Aubrey S says:

    I love my HRM. It really does help me see which exercises are producing results for me.

  3. It’s not quite so simple as get your heart beating a certain rate and you’ll burn fat or any other specific benefit. The main zone to think about is your comfort zone- always challenge it and you’ll improve. Use a variety of exercises and movements, and don’t just get on the elliptical or bike and monitor your heart rate.
    Steven Rice Fitness

  4. Lindsay says:

    i love love love my hrm. i’m glad i got the one i did, too. i bet this watch has more bells and whistles to it than i realize, but curious why spend $119 on this when you can get a garmin for $150 or so? gps w/lap data is so helpful!