Training with a heart rate monitor, key to physical improvement.


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Training with a heart rate monitor

If you want to improve both your fitness and running performance, it is essential that you use a Heart rate monitor Thanks to it, you will be able to train in the intensity zone that interests you most depending on your objectives.

But not everything is as simple as putting a ribbon on your chest (or a bracelet) and a watch and go for a run. First we need to know our body and calculate what our intensity zones will be. Of course, the heart rate monitor is an element essential to know these values. Let's go in parts.


Get to know our F.C.M. and F.C.R. thanks to the pulsometer

To put it this way, it seems quite strange and complicated to obtain. Or we can think of physical tests carried out on athletes where we see them running on the treadmill connected to a machine with a multitude of cables. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is very simple to explain:

  • F.C.M: Maximum heart rate.
  • F.C.R: Resting heart rate.

Establish our F.C.M.

It is the maximum frequency at which our heart is capable of beating. There are several ways to know our maximum frequency, but I will detail the more traditional ways.

First of all, we can start from the classic mathematical formula. This method has a reasonable accuracy It consists of taking the maximum theoretical frequency (220 in men, 226 in women) and subtracting our age. Therefore, if you are a 30-year-old man, we must make the following calculation:

220 - 30 = 190 ppm

This value should be used as a guide and not as an absolute reference. stress test and see how far our heart is capable of going. An easy way to do this is as follows:

You should choose a day when you are not fatigued, have not had hard training or running the day before and your legs are cool. After warming up by jogging for at least 5 minutes, look for a slope of about 200 or 300 meters. Run up the slope at your own pace and then jogs down to recover. Repeat this series 3 or 4 times and when you're done, look at the number on the heart rate monitor, because you've probably reached your maximum F.C.M.



Obtaining the F.C.R.

This is the speed at which our heart works when it is at absolute rest, unlike F.C.M., which is generally fixed, the frequency at rest is a reflection of our physical conditionAs we improve our physical shape, the F.C.R. will decrease.

This figure can vary greatly between different individuals. In a sedentary person the usual C.C.R. is around 80 beats per minute. In contrast , a long-distance runner usually has a heart rate below 50 ppmand even elite runners can reach values below 30 ppm.

Let's not forget that the heart is a muscle and, like all other muscles in the body, it gets bigger and better with exercise. As it gets bigger, so does its pumping capacity, so a big heart can pump twice as much blood as a smaller heart.

The F.C.R. has to be taken in the morning, even before getting up. You have to put the sensor of the heart rate monitor and lie in bed for 2 or 3 minutes, watching our clock, phone or whatever we use for the pulse measurement. The lowest value that appears will be your F.C.R.


Calculating training zones

Once we are clear about what our rest and maximum frequencies are, we must calculate our ideal training zones. Basically, it is a matter of applying a formula in which the reference values will be F.C.M., F.C.R. and the percentage of intensity, being represented as follows:

((F.C.M.-F.C.R.) x Percentage Level) + F.C.R.

Thus, if we take the previous theoretical data (30-year-old man and M.C.F. according to mathematical formula, R.C.F. of 50), for a level of effort of 60%, the formula would be the following:

((190-50) x 0.60) + 50 = 134 ppm

Training with a heart rate monitor
Photo: IvyMike

These are the areas you should be clear about and keep an eye on your heart rate monitor depending on how you want your workout to go:

  • Soft intensity (50%-60%): You should avoid working below 50% as you will not get any physical improvement. The area between 50%-60% is ideal when warming up or recovering from intense activity
  • Light intensity (60%-70%) Ideal zone for long training sessions, it is perfect for people who are starting in the physical activity or who want to lose weight. It allows you to train long exits of 2 or 3 hours.
  • Moderate intensity (70%-80%) In this area we will be starting to really work, improving our physical condition. It is also the area we should work on when training with changes in pace. In the race, this area will allow us to maintain a comfortable pace for just over an hour.
  • High intensity (80%-90%): Nor is it for training over a long period of time, since it is the anaerobic threshold. Our body starts fighting against lactic acid.
  • Maximum intensity (90%-100%) It's a pure anaerobic workout, where lactic acid will wreak havoc on our muscles. Except for specific explosivity training, it's not an area we should be training in.

The most important thing is to adapt little by little to what your body tells you, and to progressively go up a level. Training with the heart rate monitor and being clear about which zone to work in each day is what will allow us to improve race after race.

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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