How to Find the Right Heart Rate for Your Workout Style

How to Find the Right Heart Rate for Your Workout Style

Keeping track of your heart rate is important when you work out. It can help you to know whether you are putting enough into your workout, or not doing enough, and it can also help you to stick to your targets. As such, many people who exercise, including both beginners and more experienced athletes, like to keep track of their heart rates using a heart-rate monitor.

But how can you find out which heart rate is right for your workout?

Find Your Resting Heart Rate

Checking your pulse to establish your resting heart rate is the first thing to do, and it's really easy. Simply wait until you wake up in the morning, and take your pulse while you are still in bed. Count the beats for a minute, and this is your resting heart rate. You could even choose to take an average over a few mornings for greater accuracy.

What's a normal resting heart rate? It depends, but for adults its about 60 to 80 beats every minute. However, this can vary. In general, the fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate.

Work Out Your Maximum Heart Rate

Your maximum heart rate is also easy to work out. Simply take the number 220 and subtract your age. So, if you are 30, your maximum heart rate will be 190.

This is not 100 percent accurate, and you would need to visit a cardiologist if you wanted to find out your exact maximum heart rate. However, it is a good general rule for most people, and is a good guideline when you are just starting out.

Now Choose Your Heart Rate Level

There are different levels of exercise, and they are often shown as a percentage of your maximum heart rate. When you start looking for equipment for your chosen activity at SportPursuit or somewhere similar, you may also want to invest in a heart-rate monitor in order to track your heart rate so that you can stick to your preferred zone.

There are four general heart-rate zones when it comes to exercising. These can vary and you may see them split up into other zones, but these four should be enough to provide you with a good idea of where to start.

The first zone is between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate, and this is sometimes known as the endurance zone. This is a good zone to be in for losing weight, and it helps to train your body to become better at using fat as a fuel source. 

The next level is between 70% and 80%, which is often called the aerobic zone. This is a good zone for general fitness, building muscle and managing weight, and in this zone you will burn mainly carbohydrates and fat.

The next level is between 80% to 90%. This is called the anaerobic zone. Your lung capacity is improved at this rate, and your breathing will become heavy.

Then there is the zone called VO2 Max. This is between 90% to 100% of your maximum heart rate, and it is more suited to very fit people who have been working out for a long time. It should only be done for very short periods to avoid overdoing it.

Find Your Ideal Heart Rate Zone

If you're just starting out, you may want to hire the services of a personal trainer to help you to work out which heart-rate zone you should be exercising in. However, the above guide provides you with a good starting point.

Whatever your goals, the most important thing is to stay safe and avoid pushing yourself too far, especially when you first start exercising. You may therefore want to start in the endurance zone and take it from there.

Susan Bowden is a dedicated athlete. She often writes about safety equipment and techniques for reaching fitness goals.