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Five Myths About Heart Rate Training

The five myths about heart rate training was one of our favorite posts from Sally Edwards, of Heart Zones. We spend A LOT of time to try and un-convince our clients that these myths are true.

1. Train in the target heart rate zone.

There is no target heart rate zone. Rather, there are multiples zones that provide to you multiple benefits. There is no one single zone that is optimum for everyone. If you want health benefits, workout in the low zones. If you want fitness benefits, train in the mid-intensity zones, and if you want performance improvement, train in the top three zones.

Five Myths About Heart Rate Training You can determine maximum heart rate from a formula.

There are dozens of formula’s that suggest that you can determine your maximum by a simple math equation like 220 minus your age. The amount of error from these formula’s is unacceptable. I am a good example. My running maximum heart rate is 195 bpm. The math 220 – 62 years = 158 bpm or a 38 beats per minute error. Thirty-eight beats is too large an error. All formulas that estimate maximum heart rate are useless.

3. To lose weight, exercise in the fat-burning zone.

“The fat burning zone is one of the worst concepts ever created in the fitness business,” says Carl Foster, Ph.D. and past President of the American College of Sports Medicine. Used by cardio-equipment manufacturers as a button that you can press on a treadmill or elliptical, it uses the worthless formula 220-age to set a low zone from about 65%-75% of your estimated maximum heart rate (useless). Low intensity exercise burns low amounts of calories. Hence, the fat burning zone can actually make you fatter unless you train at low intensity for long periods of time.

4. Low intensity exercise burns more fat.

Training in Zones 1 and 2 or at 50%-70% of your tested maximum heart rate doesn’t burn more fat than exercising in your Zones 3 and 4. It doesn’t burn very many total calories either. The higher you can exercise to your threshold heart rate, the more total fat calories, not percentage of fat, you will burn making you a more efficient fat burner.

5. Using Threshold heart rate zones is better than using Maximum heart rate zones.

Anchoring training zones on a bio-marker is essential for establishing a valid way of setting intensity ranges. There are reasons to use low and high threshold intensity (measured by lactate or ventilation) that are credible. Similarly, there are reasons to subscribe to the maximum heart rate system. They are two different anchor points and one is not better than another. They simply are different.

If you would like to learn more about heart rate training, check out our Heart Zones Denver Training on February 12-13, 2011.

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