Recommended heart rate ranges are based on broad statistical averages of the population. And like most averages, it is a pretty good predictor for about 1/3 of the population, somewhat useful for another 1/3, and less useful for the remaining 1/3.
It depends a bit on your age, but 150-160 sounds about right for the average 'cardio' zone. 170-180 sounds about right for the average anaerobic range. As noted above, heart rates are not always the best predictor of exericse intensity. You may want to look at the Rate of Perceived Exertion at www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_artic les.asp?id=1044
With the elliptical, the intensity depends very much on the combination of speed AND resistance. By using a low resistance setting, it is quite possible to cruise along at a high speed without much effort. And speed is something you can see what your neighbor is doing, but you can't easily see the resistance setting.
Fitness Minutes: (35,078)
5,088 11/18/12 5:19 P
I don't think you have anything to worry about. My THR is 128-168 but when I'm doing intervals like what you're doing, it can get up into the high 180s. As long as your entire workout isn't way above your THR then I wouldn't worry.
I feel exertion during the spikes, but nothing like I want to die or pass out, etc. During the spikes, I feel like I should, like I am actually doing work. My heart rate stays basically the same on all the machines, so I am thinking they are fairly correct. I guess I won't worry about it.
Fitness Minutes: (216,525)
21,152 11/18/12 3:00 P
How do you feel when your HR seems to spike ? Do you feel breathless ? Do you feel any physical distress ? If you don't feel any physical distress and have no known history of heart problems, there is absolutely no reason you can't spike your HR.
Is the machine right ? I'd take the readings from treadmills or any other exercise equipment with a grain of salt. You may want to consider getting an HRM. Although, they aren't perfect either, but they're a better estimate than the machines.
Also, don't compare your HR to the person next to you. Some people do have naturally high heart rates and some people have low ones. Instead, try using rate of perceived exertion. How do you feel during the exercise ? When you hit those highs in HIIT, you should feel like you just outran a lion. So, yes, your HR could go high. As long as you are not in physical distress, it's okay to challenge your body.
Heart rate ranges are merely guidelines. Listen to your body first.
I have been training for a 5k/Warrior Dash for about a month now. To switch it up on the gym machines, I'll do HIIT training on them (like on the elliptical I will take it easy for 1-2 minutes, then spring for a minute, take it easy again, then go backwards for a minute, etc.) The machine always has you input your weight, height, age, etc, and gives you a target heart rate. For the cardio setting, it always tells me to stay around 150-160. When I am "taking it easy" I am usually around this range, but when I start really working like I feel I should be because that is when I feel I am actually getting a workout, I spike up into 170-180 usually, but then during my "rest" minutes I will come back down into 150-160. A girl next to me (much tinier I might add) was sprinting for like 10 minutes straight and her heart rate read like 106! Am I doing something wrong? Should I not be spiking my heart rate that high? I never feel dizzy or faint, or sick, and honestly when it spikes like that is the only time I feel like I am getting a decent workout. Should you even go by the target heart rate on the machine half the time? I am confused...
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