Girl Working Out

Target heart rate training is no longer a tool used only by professional fitness trainers. Enthusiastic amateurs are starting to use this approach as well.In order to get the benefits of exercise and stay physically fit it is vital not to work out too much. Setting a pace is a major factor in achieving a perfect workout.

In case you participate in more-demanding activities such as swimming and cycling the "conversational pace" approach (the whole idea behind the "conversational pace" approach is to run slow enough that you'd be able to carry on a conversation at the same time) may not work. In that case try using the maximum heart rate zone for the appropriate fitness level. It works for many healthy men and women. Also, it is a great way for fitness trainers to monitor your progress.

The table beneath shows maximum heart rate zones for various fitness levels. First look for the exercise target category, then find the maximum target heart rate zone.

Low to Moderate Daily Activity Level

Healthy Fitness Program

Endurance Exercise

Strength Training

Physique Enhancement

Exercise intensity level

light

light-moderate

moderate-heavy

heavy

very heavy

Percentage of maximum heart rate (beats per minute)
Important Note: Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.

100–170

98–166

95–162

93–157

90–153

Exercise duration or exercise intensity

30 minutes - 1 hour (even up to 2 hours)

30 minutes - 1 hour (even up to 2 hours)

30 minutes - 1 hour (even up to 2 hours)

depends on exercise targets

depends on exercise targets

Exercise frequency or the number of sessions per week

3-5 times per week (or every day)

3-5 times per week (or every day)

3-5 times per week (or every day)

depends on exercise targets

depends on exercise targets

During physical activity

no or moderate shortness of breath as well as sweating

no or moderate shortness of breath as well as sweating

some shortness of breath as well as sweating

apparent shortness of breath as well as sweating

apparent shortness of breath as well as sweating

Exercise target, i.e. what is it that you are trying to achieve?

to enhance overall vitality as well as the health of the heart

to enhance overall vitality as well as the health of the heart

to improve fitness condition

to enhance endurance capacity and the ability to work harder with less perceived effort

to enhance endurance capacity and the ability to work harder with less perceived effort

To whom is it recommended?

new exercisers who commit and stick to a regular activity program, overweight

women and men who work out on daily basis and have no medical problems,

women trying to lose belly fat after pregnancy

women and men who wish to tone up and have a better body shape

women and men who wish to improve overall strength

amateur athletes and enthusiasts

Important note: The figures above are averages, therefore use them only as general guidelines.

When starting a training program, aim at the lowest part of the target zone for the first 15 days or so. Slowly build up to the higher part of the target zone. After half a year of exercising, you will be able to work out at up to 85% of the maximum heart rate. Just keep in mind that you do not have to work out that intensely in order to stay fit and healthy.

Exercising within the target heart rate zone develops aerobic capacity as well as general endurance. Another benefit to exercising in this zone is that while you're successfully fat burning you can lose unwanted body weight and you'll be allowing the muscles to re-energize with glycogen. And glycogen, as some of you already know, is the main fuel for fast muscle fibers.

It is important to make sure your exercise targets are measurable. Also, find a standard to compare the results. Be realistic, however challenging. As soon as you set the exercise target, write it down and also place it wherever you'll see it every day.