Heart Rate Training

When starting to organize your Aquajogging workouts, it is important that you understand how your body’s signals adapt and relate to the training drills that you are performing. Before we get into specifics let’s discuss some basic terminology.

Heart Rates

Once you determine your resting heart rate and training heart rate, it will be easy to discover if you are working out too hard or too easy. After a few months of training, you will be amazed that you will probably be able to estimate your heart rate within a couple of beats. For example during your warm up, your heart rate will may be around 100 beats per minute. But when you accelerate into a fast walk or run, you will perceive that you are exerting more, and you are. Your training heart rate will coorelate quite closely with how you feel.

Resting Heart Rate

This is your body’s heart rate at rest, or your pulse rate taken approximately one hour before your normal waking time. This figure is one way to notice changes in your fitness and health levels. Resting heart rate is very much genetic. Pro tennis player, Bjorn Borg had a resting heart rate of 35 beats per minute. Borg was in fabulous shape. But Olympic track star Jim Ryan, also in great shape, had a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute. Three ways to determine resting heart rate are:

1. Have someone gently wake you up and then take your pulse one hour before your normal waking hour. Count the pulse for one whole minute.

2. In the evening, lie down in a supine position with some calming music and just allow your body to relax without any distractions and breathe comfortably for about 20-30 minutes. Count the pulse for one whole minute.

3. Wear a heart rate monitor to sleep and glance at it just as you are starting to wake. Record this number seven days in a row. Add them together, and divide by seven. This will give you a true average of your resting heart rate (RHR).

If you regularly record this figure and notice that your numbers are increasing by 10%, it means you are overtraining, overstressed, or your body is starting to break down and you could be starting to get ill. If you notice this happening, take the day off and pamper yourself by resting, getting a massage, or just training very light and easy for a couple of days until your RHR gets back to your normal average.

On the flip side, if you notice your RHR dropping slightly, that is one indication that your cardiovascular fitness level is improving. When this happens your heart has to beat less times within each minute to sustain your normal body functions.

Maximum Heart Rate

This is the maximum recommended number of times your heart can contract at any given minute. There are 3 ways to determine this:

1. An easy, relatively accurate way to determine your maximum heart rate (MHR) is by using this age-predicted formula: 220-age=MHR (for men), 226-age=MHR (for women).

2. This next method is found in The Heart Rate Monitor Book by Sally Edwards. She suggests performing a sprint or series of sprints after warming up. Give all-out, extreme effort until your heart rate reading no longer rises and you approach exhaustion. The final number is your maximum heart rate. Obviously a heart rate monitor must be used and supervision by a medical professional should be observed. This method is definitely not recommended for beginners or sedentary individuals.

3. A maximum stress test performed by a Physician in a clinical setting. A maximum stress test requires you to walk on a treadmill while a doctor measures all of your vital signs. The walk turns into a jog, and into a run however, as the treadmill speeds up, and so does the grade. Soon you can barely breathe as you are moving your feet as quickly as you can. Your doctor keeps asking, "are you okay" and you are supposed to nod yes as you push yourself to your limit. At the moment you reached your limit, you achieved your maximum heart rate.

Recovery Heart Rate

This is the heart rate typically determined two minutes after the cardio portion of your workout is finished. Determine your recovery heart rate (RHR) by counting your pulse for one minute. The only difference between recovery heart rate and resting heart rate is that your recovery measure is taken after exercise. Record this number frequently since it is another method of determining cardiovascular fitness. The quicker the number drops the better.

Training Zones

There are two training zones that we will be concerned with. The start up or recovery training zone and the improved fitness or higher caloric expenditure zone. When you know your training zones, you can increase or decrease your workload accordingly. For example, if your recovery training zone is 80 to 100 beats per minute, and your actual heart rate is 120, you should decrease your intensity. And if your improved fitness zone is 140 to 170 beats per minute, and your heart rate monitor shows that you are running at 190 beats per minute, once again you should slow down.

1. The start-up or recovery training zone is 50-70% of MHR
Determine zone by using this formula:
____(MHR) x .50 = _____Low end figure
____(MHR) x .70 = _____High end figure

Example for a 40 year old with a MHR of 180
180 x .50 = 90
180 x .70 = 126

So, this person’s start-up or recovery training zone is 90-126 beats per minute. She should allow her heart rate to drop to this level during the warm up, between intervals, and during the cool down. If her heart rate is higher than 126 beats per minute, she should slow down.

2. The working zone or higher caloric expenditure zone is 70-90% of MHR
Determine zone by using this formula:
____(MHR) x .70 = _____Low end figure
____(MHR) x .90 = _____High end figure

Example for a 40 year old with a MHR of 180
180 x .70 = 126
180 x .90 = 162

So, this person’s working zone or higher caloric expenditure zone is 126-162 beats per minute.