Heart Rate Training

Heart Rate &
Endurance Training
Derek Boutang
Why do we care about heart rate?
Your heart rate (HR) is like a full-time coach.
Easy and quick to measure, monitor, and track over time
Informs on your current state of fitness
Takes the guess work out of training intensity
Early predictor of fatigue and over-training
Gives real-time feedback on race day
Resting Heart Rate
Exercise training results in a lower resting heart rate.
If you were to measure your resting HR every morning for the duration of your
training program, you would notice a decrease in your resting HR as your fitness
Why does aerobic training result in a lower resting HR?
1) Aerobic training stimulates an increase in total blood volume and an increase in
the heart’s stroke volume (amount of blood pumped each beat). The more blood
pumped, the fewer pumps needed.
2) Aerobic training results in increased input from the parasympathetic nervous
system that instructs the heart to beat less frequently.
Do you have the resting HR of an elite endurance athlete?
Highly-conditioned, endurance athlete
28-60 beats/min
Average person
60-80 beats/min
Middle-aged, unconditioned, sedentary person 80-100 beats/min
Resting Heart Rate
Estimating your resting heart rate:
Estimate your resting HR upon waking in the morning after a good night’s sleep.
Use your radial pulse (at the wrist) to count beats per minute. There is usually a lot of
variation, so it’s wise to count for a full minute or two.
Take an average over four or five days.
Besides exercise training, what else affects resting HR?
Environmental factors (RHR increases with extremes in temperature and altitude)
Dehydration (increases RHR)
Food products (caffeine increases RHR)
Body position (lying down decreases RHR)
Age (RHR typically decreases with age)
Stress (both physical and mental)
Gender (typically higher for women)
Maximum Heart Rate
What should you know about max HR?
• Decreases as you age.
• Not affected by training, so it remains fairly constant during a year
Estimating your maximum HR:
220 - age, ±15 beats/min
217 - (0.85 x Age) (Miller et. al. 1993 )
206.3 - (0.711 × age) (Londeree and Moeschberger 1982)
Women: 206 - (0.88 x age) (Gulati et. al. 2010)
Methods of actually measuring your maximum HR
• Should be sport-specific (for runners, measure while running)
• Results from maximal effort over 10-25 minutes (e.g., typical 5K race)
• Also results from a systematic increase in exercise intensity over 10-12 minutes
(e.g., max test)
Maximum Heart Rate
How do we use HR for training?
Use HR to determine training zones based on anaerobic threshold
Anaerobic threshold (AT) is the intensity of exercise at which your body starts using
the anaerobic energy system. At this intensity, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles,
forcing you to slow down.
You can estimate AT by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
Calculating your HR zones
% Max HR Method
Heart Rate Reserve
(Karvonen Method)
Run-walk and hitting the wall
Does the run-walk method makes sense?
Yes! The 10 min-run/1 min-walk program will result in a lower HR response and lower
perceived exertion. Compare curves B (run-walk) and C (continuous run) in Fig 5.
What is hitting the wall?
“Hitting the wall” is the result of a poor pacing and fueling strategy. Physiologically, it
is the result of the body running out of stored glycogen (easily-converted energy).
Once you hit the wall, it is impossible to maintain your running pace.
Detecting over-training
How does HR show over-training (under-recovering)
1) HR variability is the variation in time between successive heart beats (known as
the R-R interval). Periods of under-recovery affect the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous systems, resulting in a change in HR variability.
2) Resting HR is directly affected by fatigue. An increase in RHR while training may
point to over-training (under-recovering).