February is American Heart Month, a great time to remind ourselves of the many benefits cardio training adds to our lives. Cardio training provides a top to bottom health advantage that positively affects multiple body functions including:
When we cardio train, working smart is far more effective than just working hard. This is especially true when pushing the limits to elevate the heart rate. To help you get the most out of your cardio workout, East Bank Club offers some helpful tips:
Heart rate monitors (HRMs) measure the effort your heart expends while you train. HRMs identify the ideal zones for training, ensuring that you maximize these levels without exceeding your safe zone. Monitoring intensity enables us to work hard and achieve our desired results in a safe, measured way.
Over time, as our fitness level improves and our body adjusts to exercise, the ability to maintain lower heart rate levels with the same amount of exertion limits the effectiveness of our workout. Eventually, our body plateaus and stops benefitting from our hard work. To offset the limiting effect of diminishing returns, we must continue to push and challenge ourselves. An HRM is the guiding tool to safely achieve increased heart rate levels.
Maximum heart rate levels vary from person to person, and depend on your current fitness level. HRMs allow athletes and newbies alike to safely achieve the proper heart rate levels based on individual metrics. HRMs monitor the expenditure as a percent of maximum heart rate experienced during the workout, and categorize these levels into zones. These zones are often color-coded to allow a simple format to follow for training. For example, MYZONE, the HRM that East Bank Club recommends, expresses these zones as follows:
Zone training, by way of HRMs, takes the guess work out of our workouts and signals when it’s time to safely step it up and increase our efforts. Increasing the pace or adding resistance to the movements in our workout can easily move our expenditure from 60% to 80%. For example, increase your incline while running on a treadmill or increase the resistance on your bike during a cycling class. These small adjustments might get overlooked if you don’t monitor your heart rate during your workout to see what zone you’re actually training in.
To maintain heart healthy levels, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise (50-70% of maximum heart rate) at least five days per week OR 25 minutes of vigorous exercise (70-85% of maximum heart rate) at least three days per week.
The East Bank Club Pro Shop carries the MYZONE belt that works with the digital displays throughout the Club, as well as other brands of heart rate monitors. Heart rate monitors that use chest straps are the most accurate.
While a heart rate monitor is a great directional tool, a VO2 Max Fitness Test is the gold standard in determining your fitness level. VO2 Max is the volume of air expended during rigorous exertion until the point of exhaustion – that is your maximum volume. This measurement is expressed as a number that demonstrates the degree of efficiency your body has for using and distributing oxygen.
The VO2 Max Fitness Test is a 60-minute diagnostic that uses science and technology to determine these levels to help exercisers and athletes either step it up or slow it down to maximize workout efficiency. For example, faster isn’t always better. Working out too intensely can cause your body to crash and burn, and ultimately will hinder your efforts. In some cases, a slower pace is recommended to enable your body to burn fat while sustaining a longer, optimum workout.
If you are exercising to lose weight, you should consider a VO2 Max Fitness Test. Finding that key fat-burning zone helps maximize each workout, and prevents plateaus or over-training to the point of burning muscle versus fat.
High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) utilizes short bursts of maximum heart rate expenditure combined with lower exertion rest periods. HIIT offers an efficient workout that burns more calories during the same time frame as standard workouts, and continues burning more calories post-exercise.
You can create your own HIIT workouts by mixing high intensity burst movements like jumping, burpees or sprints for 30 seconds to two minutes, with lower intensity rest periods of walking for the same duration.
East Bank Club | February 2017