Finding Your Target Heart Rate For High Intensity Interval Training

body-articleInterval training is a way to pack more punch into your workouts. Among the benefits is strengthening your heart, which means you’ll need to get it pumping fast enough in order for interval training to provide the results you are after.

One way to ensure you are hitting the correct intensity is to monitor your heart rate. In this article, we are going to discuss the proper target zone based upon your age and your current health condition.


What Is Interval Training?

Interval training refers to any manner of exercise during which you add short bursts of intense activity during longer periods of more moderate exercise.

This can be as simple as jogging for a few minutes at a time during a long walk. This will cause you to burn more calories than you would by just doing the moderate exercise over the same period of time.

This type of high intensity interval allows you exercise longer than you could if you continuously worked at full intensity. You’ll also be able to build muscles with less soreness than you would get from prolonged, high-intensity exercise.

Maximum Heart Rate

Your heart rate should increase during exercise, but there is a ceiling on how high it should go, known as your maximum heart rate. Of course, this maximum rate drops as you get older.

You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 35-year-old, for example, has an estimated maximum heart rate of 185. In other words, the average 35-year old would not want to exceed 185 beats per minute.

A number of factors can affect your maximum safe heart rate, including your overall health and any medications you are taking, so you’ll need to see a doctor if you want to determine your exact maximum heart rate.

Finding Your Training Zone

During the high-intensity bursts in interval training, you want to push your heart rate as high as you can safely take it. A good rule of thumb is about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

If you are 35-year-old, for example, you would want to get your heart rate up to around 157 beats a minute. Pushing your heart rate higher than that puts you at greater risk for injury without providing any real additional benefits.

While some machines in the gym will measure your heart rate while you exercise, it can be a good idea to purchase a heart rate monitor. This will help to ensure you are reaching your target levels.

One way to gauge the intensity of the burst phase is how you feel. During this time, you should be out of breath and not be able to carry a conversation. If you can still talk normally, your burst is not intense enough.

A Word Of Caution

Working out near your maximum heart rate can be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis or are over 60, you want to check with your doctor before engaging in any type of interval training program.

If you’re just starting an exercise program, you may not be ready for high-intensity interval training. You should be able to sustain activity at about 65 percent to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 30 minutes before increasing the intensity.