Our hearts are made from smooth cardiac muscle, and they become stronger and larger with exercise! When we train, the heart walls become thicker in order to accommodate the forceful propulsion needed to pump blood to the muscles when under the stress of exercise…they grow when we work them. Conversely, when we do not use our hearts, they shrink!
Your heart rate at various stages of rest and work is a great way to measure your fitness. Your heart is an AMAZING organ! The average human heart beats 100,000 times a day, and 3,600,000 times a year. This 11 ounce organ pumps 2000 gallons of blood a day. A woman’s heart typically beats faster than a man’s. The heart of an average man beats approximately 70 times a minute, whereas the average woman has a heart rate of 78 beats per minute.
Get to know your heart with the info below…
1) Know your resting heart rate (RHR) This should be taken before getting out of bed in the morning without waking to an alarm, to get the most accurate read. Place your index and middle fingers on the coratid artery of your neck. Time for 10 seconds; start the timer on the first beat. Multiply by 6 to get your RHR. RHR will improve with exercise, and healthy RHR levels are as seen on the chart below.
2) Know your approximate MHR or Maximum Heart Rate. You can use this calculator to save you some math. Your MHR is the heart rate you will use to find your training zones below.
3) TRAINING ZONES
Your chosen training zone depends on your fitness level, goals and what you are comfortable with. Pushing your heart past its fitness is not a good idea – it takes time to condition it to the last few zones, so be patient with it and you will see marked improvements in your RHR.
Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) — 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm up for more serious walkers. This zone has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are fats! BUT REMEMBER, the total fat calories burned are a RATIO taken from total caloric output, so you actually burn more fat training at higher levels because the total calories burned are greater.Fitness Zone: 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.
Aerobic Zone: 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.
Anaerobic Zone: While you may reach this zone occasionally at boot camp, more often you will be working in the zones below this. At 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate you will be working toward improving VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve, and you’ll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more calories, 15 % from fat.
Red Line: 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Even the most highly trained athletes can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.
Check out these amazing photos of healthy organs vs sick ones should you need an incentive to get that exercise in today!
That moment when aerobic training becomes anaerobic…
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