When we are looking for results in our exercise regime, its important to be able to measure them. If we want to drop a dress size, we buy a similar size, eat well and go to lots of sweaty classes until it fits us.
If we want to lose weight, we hit the gym, cut out the sweets and fizzy drinks and then hit the scales in thre hopes of seeing them show up our dream weight.
And if we are looking to add some some muscle, we pump some iron until we see the shape of our muscles rippling under our tight fitting t-shirt.
But if what we want to achieve is siomply a better level of overall fitness, what is the most effective way to measure that? You can go to the gym religiously and stick to a strict exercise workout but how do you know that it is really working? The simplest method is to exercise using your heart rate zones. This is the most precise and reliable way of checking whether you are getting fitter and you can also measure your progress as you go along to boot.
First, you will need to get hold of a heart rate monitor. These usually consist of a device attached to a chest strap which measures your heart rate, along with a watch on which the all-important rate is displayed. There are lots of different models available, ranging in price from a few quid to hundreds of pounds but when you arte just starting off a basic model is all you really need.
Once you have the necesaary equipment you need to ascertain your maximum heart rate, so you can work out your training zones using the following calculation:
220-your age = Maximum Heart Rate (for example, 220-25yrs = 195 Max Heart Rate)
Using your Maximum Heart Rate, work out your heart rate range for each of the main training zones, using the table below:
55-70per cent of maximum heart rate
• Burns calories and fat
• Strengthens muscles
70-80 per cent of maximum heart rate
• Improves breathing and circulation
• Burns calories and fat, strengthens muscles
80-90 per cent of maximum heart rate
• Improves stamina, endurance and speed
• Improves breathing and circulation, burns muscles and fat, strengthens muscles
90-100 per cent of maximum heart rate
• Improves power and spring speed
• Gets oxygen to muscles faster
• Improves breathing and circulation, burns calories and fat
• Strengthens muscles
The best way to improve fitness is to do interval training in the heart zones, so keep your eye on the heart rate monitor, watch to see when you are reaching your target zone.
You now have a way to see yourself getting fitter or improve your race times by seeing your recovery times in the light to moderate zones reduce, and see yourself spending longer in the more challenging, intense to maximal zones.
Whether you are aiming to simply get fitter or improve your race times, getting in the zones the best way to get results and track them.
Of course, you are also likely to see all the other results we look for when working out – weight loss, dropping a dress size, toned muscles and bags more energy.