when I do cardio my average hear rate for 1 hour is 160bpm. My bp at doc last week was 123/71 with 60bpm heart rate. What I would like to know is – is it ok to train at say 95% of max heart rate? sometimes when i go flat our for a less than a minute etc I can get my heart rate up to 180 but can’t sustain it… am I doing damage to my heart if I train at say 95% o f heart rate 3 days week?
Using an equation to “estimate” your percentage Heart Rate is just that, an estimate. Before you begin a fitness program or activity that is at a higher intensity than you are used to doing, it is wise to get medical clearance.
Be cautious whenever you are pushing the intensity of your exercise. Stay mindful of what you are experiencing. If you feel that you may be getting into trouble always reduce intensity. If it appears that you are experiencing an unusual response (nausea, dizziness, etc.) continue to reduce intensity to a gradual stop and sit down to assess what you are experiencing. If you feel you are having any type of medical issue, stop immediately and be prepared to sit down safely. In the case that you are uncertain as to whether you are having a medical issue or if you think you are, get assistance from someone with you or call 911. Better safe than finding yourself in a serious situation without help.
I would also advise working with a fitness professional, especially in the beginning of an intense exercise program.
There are more thorough ways to find out more about your cardiovascular status. I had a stress test previously when I was training at high intensities. Partly to experience the test as many of my clients had been tested for a variety of medical issues. And partly to help direct my training (find my true HR Max, VO2 Max, etc.) and to be sure that I did not have any undetected issues. It was one of the more intense experiences of my life and I now have a deeper appreciation for what my clients go through when they undergo the test themselves.
One last thought, err on the side of caution. Are you going to be making a better income for training this hard? (As in becoming a professional athlete.) Will training this hard make you a better person? You don’t need to train at such intense levels to reap virtually the same benefit. And training at the correct intensity for your current level of fitness is always smarter than trying to train beyond your current capacity.
I have found the heart rate calculations to be low for me. I cycle in the mountains on a regular basis and use steep climbs for high intensity intervals. I have worn a HRM for years and have become familiar with my heart rate at various levels of perceived exertion.
When I first started doing high intensity intervals at 52 years old the highest heart rate I could achieve was 180 BPM. Today, at 54, I can reach 193. I usually push to 100% for one interval, one ride a week. I’ll do 5 to 8 intervals to 95% on two rides a week. On my remaining rides, I’ll do one that taxes my muscles more by riding one or two gears higher than is usual for a given loop. The remainder of my weekly rides (usually longer distances) are in the 70% to 80% range on climbs.
I have found that the HIT has pushed my cardio fitness to new levels. I have lowered my resting heart rate to all time lows and my 30 second HR drop from 100% is 40 BPM or more even while pedaling the downhill after my climb.
I agree with Joanne and Karin. You may be able to reach that 95% MHR level (depending on your health history and current activity level) but 95% is so high that it can’t be sustained for a long period.
The Karvonen formula may be better because (unlike MHR) it factors in your resting heart rate.
Of course (as Jocelyn and Natalie mentioned) check with your physician regarding high intensity level activity.
Hope this works out!
I had an 80 year old client who would regularly train at 95%. Why? Because the 220 – age thing didn’t apply to him. He did a medically supervised stress test and they wouldn’t let him go past 80%. He had to get a doctor’s note saying it was okay to take it further. By the way, at 80%, he wasn’t breathing hard. Just one more reason I take heart rate training with a grain of salt.
As others have said it is alright to train at 95% of your maximum heart rate, though it is not possible to train at that intensity for extended periods of time. For effectiveness without over training, I recommend an 80-10-10 rule to my clients: train within your target zone 80% of the time, and no more than 10% below or 10% above it.
As far as calculating maximum heart rate, I use the updated formula “208 – (.7 x Age)” to estimate Max Heart Rate. If I have a client who in the past year has achieved a higher maximal heart rate than the estimated MHR then I use that instead.
Once I have Estimated Max Heart Rate I adapt the Karvonen method to calculate training zones:
(MHR – Resting Heart Rate) X Training Intensity + Heart Rate = Training Rate (bpm)