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DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
1/26/13 11:03 A

I don't worry about my heart rate. I track it, yes, but my perceived exertion is far more accurate at estimating my effort. I'm not aiming for a computer-generated target, I'm working as hard as I like and using my heart rate just to calculate calories burned. :)

GRATTECIELLA SparkPoints: (127,674)
Fitness Minutes: (81,793)
Posts: 4,404
1/26/13 10:50 A

Activity is always good. But for a real workout, it sounds like you should be working a little harder. I suspect your HR monitor is not correct!

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,903
1/25/13 3:37 P

Yes, I mean you're not actually over 85% if you can go that far. You'd probably only be able to go for a few minutes at that level consistently.

As long as you've been cleared for exercise and you don't have any medical conditions, you should be okay to push harder. Just use RPE or the Talk Test as your guide. Here's some more info you should find helpful:

Hope that helps,

Coach Jen

LLLAMALADY SparkPoints: (7,517)
Fitness Minutes: (7,449)
Posts: 26
1/25/13 3:30 P

Thank you Jen and everyone for your input. When you say that you "can't actually work at 85% of your max heart rate for an extended period of time" - how long are you calling extended? I walk at 4 mph for most of the 5K "course" on the treadmill and the heart rate monitor says I am over 85% the whole time. I suspect you mean I am not actually over 85% if I can go that far.

Is there any danger of my heart rate getting too high if I push harder? I have been timid to go alot faster, except in brief spurts. Like I said before, I can jog at 4.5 for 2 min. I know this doesn't seem fast to others, especially since I can't even record that slow a jog on the fitness list. I would love to be able to run a real 5K someday and actually run the whole distance in less than 48.53 minutes (current personal best). Right now, I am exercising mainly to lose 30 lbs, but I would like to be fit and more active, too.

How do I calculate my real max heart rate - the formulas where you take 220 minus your age yield the same results as my monitor.

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,903
1/24/13 6:29 P

I agree with Kristen that target heart rate is an average calculation that doesn't work for everyone. You can't actually work at 85% of your max heart rate for extended periods of time, so your max is probably higher than what your heart rate monitor assumes. Rate of perceived exertion or the Talk Test are both good ways to measure the intensity of your workout.

I also wanted to clairfy the suggestion to work in "fat burning mode" for your workouts. Although you burn a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities, you burn less calories overall- which is what matters when it comes to weight loss. So your best bet is to focus on workouts that are challenging.

Hope that helps,

Coach Jen

KRISTEN_SAYS SparkPoints: (82,009)
Fitness Minutes: (48,676)
Posts: 5,092
1/24/13 3:07 P

target heart rate works for some people and not for others. use the talk test as a better way to measure intensity.

CRAZYELLYBEANZ SparkPoints: (1,659)
Fitness Minutes: (5,574)
Posts: 11
1/24/13 3:03 P

Ideally you should do cardio workouts 2-3 times a week, and Fat Burning Workouts 5-7 times week.. Cardio is going to strengthen your heart and give you better endurance, but it's not ideal for burning fat.. Fat Burning sessions where your heart rate is not soaring is best for burning Fat..

TACDGB Posts: 6,136
1/24/13 2:56 P

it depends on your fitness goals. So what do you want to do........? If running a 5k or 10k is your goal then you workout different then someone like me who wants to build serious muscles. I would figure out your goals. Are you trying to build up speed or distance? For me I am a distance runner. I can run longer at a slower speed. I don't because I want to build serious muscles. So what do you want your body to look like...? The poster before me had some good ideas too.....

ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (200,016)
Fitness Minutes: (299,018)
Posts: 27,319
1/24/13 2:48 P


How hard a person works out is going to depend on what their fitness goals are. The person training for a 26.2 mile marathon has very different needs than someone trying to be a bit fitter. You don't have to work out at 85% of max all the time to be fit.

What is 85% max of heart rate ? at 85% of max, you should be working out so hard that you should feel a bit breathless and winded. You shouldn't be able to talk. If you can talk and walk at the same time, that means you're getting plenty of air and that's aerobic exercise. When a person works out at 85% of max, that's anaerobic (no air) exercise. example, the bus has just pulled up to the corner and you're at the other end of the block. How fast can you run to make that bus ? And let's say you do catch your bus. How do you feel after that sprint ? Are you winded ? Do you feel breathless ? That's 85% of max.

Also, if a person is at 85% of max, that's not something they can sustain because it is intense. it's a short burst of power and speed. If you were to keep your HR at around 60-75% of max, that's more of a walk or brisk walk.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a daily walk that doesn't get you winded. There are many studies promoting the benefits of lower intensity exercise for heart health. What should you do ? My question would be what will you do that you will KEEP doing ? exercise isn't just about burning X calories in Y time. In order to take the weight off and keep it off, we must be active in some way our entire life. So, your exercise routine should be sustainable. You don't have to kill yourself to be healthy.

One thing I would suggest is starting with some brisk walks. You don't have to do it all the time, but every few minutes, try walking as if you're late for a meeting. get a little winded and then give your body a chance to recover.

Slowly ease into a routine so that your exercise will become just that, a routine. Don't worry about heart rates too much. Instead, try to find ways to make your day more active, in general.


LLLAMALADY SparkPoints: (7,517)
Fitness Minutes: (7,449)
Posts: 26
1/24/13 2:23 P

I am never sure how hard to work out. I have a heart rate monitor and work above 85% at just walking 4mph. On the other hand, at that speed, I can also talk on the phone and the other person barely knows I am on the treadmill (except from background noises). The talk test and the heart rate just don't seem to go together at all, and I am just not sure at what level is best.

I can jog at 4.5 mph for about 2 minutes, then I feel winded and like I need to slow down.

I hate to slow down to keep my heart rate under 85%, cause it seems like I am plodding along.

I spent two years working out 2 - 3x per week at a gym, then it closed a year ago and I gained 20 of the 40 lbs I lost. Now I am using Spark People and my new treadmill to get back in the swing of things and exercise and lose weight.

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