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How To Monitor Your Heart Rate for Maximum Fitness?

People who have been working out know the importance of cardiovascular fitness and how it goes hand in hand with having good musculature. Pumping iron tones and strengthens your bodily muscle well. The heart is a muscle too which needs a thorough workout to remain strong and healthy! Aerobic exercises are the best way to improve cardiovascular fitness. So, how would you determine or gauge the effectiveness of your aerobic workout? This is where you need to monitor your heart rate for maximum fitness. This might sound a little ambiguous, but let’s elaborate on that:

Resting Heart Rate

To monitor your heart rate for maximum fitness successfully, you’d have to determine your heart rate while you are at rest and not undertaking any strenuous physical activity. Though RHR or resting heart rate varies from person to person but on an average RHR for an adult man is between 60 beat per minute and 90 for an adult woman.

You would need a heart monitor to get a reading for your RHR during different phases of the day while you are not physically exerting yourself and come up with an average value.

Maximum Heart Rate or Working Heart Rate

Needless to say, your heart rate would tremendously vary while you are undertaking aerobic workout. It would be elevated beyond the RHR to indicate that your body is no longer in resting condition. The thing to cautiously observe here is that the heart rate shouldn’t become so high that it would totally negate the whole process. So, how you can find out about the ideal heart rate?

Although obtaining precise reading would require expensive equipment mostly at disposal of fitness laboratories, health experts have derived a formula which somewhat gives exact reading. To begin, subtract your age from 220, for example if you are 35 years of age your working heart rate should be 185. As mentioned before, this is a rough estimation of the maximum heart rate derivation; for accurate reading, consult a fitness expert who has an ECG machine at disposal.

Once you have figured out your maximum heart rate, the next step is to maintain it for more than 20 minutes. This would be your training heart rate. During this period, your heart would get the conditioning it requires to pump oxygenated blood rapidly to the muscles that are increasingly demanding it because of your strenuous workout.

Once you get the “hang of it”, you should try varying the heart rates to breach training plateaus. While monitoring your heart rate for maximum fitness, your goal should be to have lower heart rate during workout but at the same time the heart should be doing maximum blood pumping. This can be achieved by training and carefully monitoring the heart rate. Remember that you should provide your heart and body adequate rest and relaxation after each bout of exhaustive training. Let the heart rate come down to normal RHR.

The old proverb “slow and steady wins the race” is applicable and relevant when it comes to heart conditioning. During the first few weeks of training try to attain the lowest part of your target zone i.e. around 50% of your heart rate. Then gradually build up to higher percentage. I have seen people becoming overzealous and try to push the envelope, but the only result they attain is burnout and frustration. After gradually raising your target zone to 85% in a few months time, you should be able to keep it steady without any difficulty. A word of caution though! Maintaining your heart rate at such elevated levels is really strenuous and physically exhaustive. Unless you are an athlete indulging in extreme sports like iron man marathons, you do not need to work that hard just to stay shapely.

Heart Rate Monitors – A Truly Worthy Investment

Ever seen a professional athlete wearing a chest strap and consulting his wrist watch frequently while training? That’s most possibly a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor is a nifty device that provides accurate, real-time heart rate information which comes in really handy. Investing in a heart rate monitor is a worthy investment that would definitely pay rich dividends and here’s a little secret! Having a heart rate monitor actually serves as a motivator too.

Precaution

It is strongly recommended that before undertaking any such activity which involves pushing your heart to its maximum working capacity, a professional physician or a fitness expert should be consulted. People who have had any heart related ailment or in cardiac rehab should be extra cautious about putting strain on their heart. Because of their ailment, their target heart rate is subject to change and most importantly all physical activities such individuals undertake have to be under strict medical supervision.

Suhail is a journalist who writes for various health care & fitness blogs and technology sites. Currently he's writing for Muscular.co. He's also a bodybuilder and provides coaching at a gym.

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