Is your training making you fit or endangering your life?

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Ideal Training heart Rate

Many a time you hear news of acquaintances, friends, family members, or someone you have seen training or playing a sport regularly, suffer a cardiac arrest or a heart-related issue. You start to question your training routine. The most important question is, “What is the ideal training heart rate?” “Is your training making you fit or endangering your life?” We have a lot of simple and cheap gadgets as well as watches available which give out heart rate fairly accurate. If you do any type of training or play a sport, it is strongly recommended that you understand the concept and get the best out of your training effort. 

What cardio workout does?

We all know that heart is a muscle. We do not have any other muscle like this in our body from a structure and performance point of view. The effect of training though is the same on all muscles. Cardio training strengthens our heart muscles. As we train good, the muscle becomes more efficient and can pump more blood per beat leading to a lower resting heart rate and shorter recovery period. 

How to calculate Maximum and Training Heart Rate?

To calculate the maximum heart rate various formulas exist. The simplest one is 220 minus your age. So if you are 40 years old, your maximum safe heart rate is 180 beats per minute. Cardio training happens between 60 to 90 percent of maximum heart. So we should monitor and keep our heart rate as per the following table.


Age in yearsTarget Heart Rate (BPM)
20120 – 180
25117 – 175
30114 – 170
35112 – 165
40110 – 160
45105 – 155
50102 – 150
5599 – 150
6096 – 145

Factors on which Average Heart rate depends while training

Average heart rate while training is different for each person. Various factors influence the average heart rate. We are listing a few of the most important ones below :

  • Age – need to know how to train at your age.
  • Fitness level – The more fit heart is, the lower is the average heart rate.
  • Medication – certain medications influence heart rate such as thyroid medication.
  • Stress – can influence heart rate both ways, which means it can slow or increase your heartbeat depending on the type and level of stress. 
  • Temperature and humidity – Higher the temperature and humidity, the higher will be the heart rate.
  • BMI – Higher BMI will result in a higher heart rate.
  • Caffeine and steroid use – Use of excessive caffeine and anabolic steroids will result in increased heart rate.
  • Underlying disease – Blocked arteries, breathing or lung disorder, or any other ailment can significantly increase heart rate, especially during training.

Safe heart rate training 

Going higher than the maximum target heart rate, for more than a minute, is not recommended. This is more so if one is new to training or has been training but now has noticed a sudden spike in average heart rate. All you need is to back off a little and slow yourself. 

Heart rate training means that you increase or decrease the intensity of your workout to keeping heart rate within the safe planned limit. Also depending on the level of fitness, the aim of training, age, etc one can divide the heart zone into five parts

Zone 1: 50 to 60 percent of maximum heart rate

This zone is safe and one is not doing too much towards improving heart fitness. However, fitness will be maintained at the level where it is!

Zone 2: 60 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate

Your cardio fitness starts here. It is important to be in at least this zone to see results although it will take a longer time here. It is a good place to start though.

Zone 3: 70 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate

You are in a good zone. Endurance training in this zone is the best. Here overall efficiency of muscles increases and heart performance improves quicker.

Zone 4: 80 to 90 percent of maximum heart rate

You are now reaching the levels where you will train your heart the best. One has to ensure that the heart rate is steadily maintained in this zone. A sudden jump here is dangerous.

Zone 5: 90 to 100 percent of maximum heart rate

You are now in a zone where you need to monitor carefully. Ensure that you do not cross 100% for more than a few minutes. Never venture into this zone unless you have professional aims. Trying to do your PR and pushing hard one fine day has proven dangerous many times. Be cautious!

Goals and Zones

One must pick up the training zone depending on the goal you have. A long-distance or endurance athlete would like to be in Zone 2 or 3. At the same time, a 10KM runner may like to maintain up to zone 4. A sprinter may have to practice in zone 5. Those in resistance, strength, or other fitness training regimes need to worry less about the heart rate zones. However, to improve your cardiovascular fitness, it is important to pick the right zone and improve slowly.

Take home message

Never think that since you have an athletic past or you have played a lot of sports involving cardio fitness, you need not monitor heart rate. All those who do train must know their current zone and monitor the same. Any unplanned fluctuation is a signal from your body to do some introspection on cardiovascular fitness. Keep yourself in a comfortable zone. Stop if required and get yourself check

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