heart rate monitor gym workouts

4 Killer Heart Rate Monitor Workouts to Use in The Gym

Heart Rate Monitor Workouts

 

 

Our heart is one of the most important muscles in our body, if not the most important. Improving our cardiovascular fitness can help ward off diseases like coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes and problems associated with ageing.

 

When we think of cardiovascular training, we usually think of running, biking or swimming. But how about lifting weights in the gym? Can that be as effective for cardio training?

 

The boring answer is – it depends. However, using a heart rate monitor while we workout in the gym can be very useful. Before I show you how to do this, let me ask you a question:

 

 

Let’s suppose your goal was to burn a lot of calories during your training sessions. To achieve that objective you decide to run or bike 2-3x a week for 45 minutes, year after year. Would you burn the same amount of calories you did in the first month you began training as you did on the 5th or even 12th month?

 

The answer is no, you wouldn’t. You would be burning the same amount of calories or probably less. You would plateau. Your heart would become efficient in using the oxygen necessary to fuel those workouts. In order to burn more calories you would either have to run longer or you would have to increase the intensity of that run.

 

We can all agree that running is an easy way to get some cardio in. It can be very useful but it doesn’t have to be the only way. Some people respond very well to this type of training, others are not so lucky. For some, running can be too stressful on the joints. Focus on the quality of your cardiovascular activity first and then add duration or intensity.

 

Let me say this, if your goal is to get better at running then you should run more. But if your primary goal is to simply torch calories while you train, then the following approach will work wonders for you.

 

Combining Cardio & Strength Training

 

Cardio strength training is a type of conditioning where you integrate different resistance training exercises with cardio based exercises. I want to be clear on what constitutes a cardio based exercise for me.

 

A cardio based exercise is a movement or combination of movements that will elevate your heart rate.

 

Would your heart work hard if you did a couple of push ups followed, by walking lunges and finished off with mountain climbers? I think so.

 

These circuits can be very useful since they accomplish difference facets of training. They will help build muscle and burn fat at the same time.

 

The variation of these different exercises performed back to back, along with where we use different muscle groups can remove the staleness that comes with long form, steady state cardio.

 

Grab a Heart Rate Monitor

 

As you have probably guessed by now you’re going to need a heart rate monitor to complete these workouts. Many fitness enthusiasts would reserve to use their heart rate monitors for their runs, bike or swims. They would never think of integrating them with their resistance training. It’s not common practice.

 

Working out with a heart monitor keeps you accountable and focused. It gives you the feedback you need in order to rest or keep pushing. Maybe you think you are getting in a good cardio workout but your heart rate says other wise.  Or perhaps you’re doing the right exercises for your fat loss goals but you are resting too long between sets.

You will be using barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and even your own bodyweight to perform the exercises in these circuits. You will be moving from exercise to exercise with only transitional rest. However, you must adhere to your Target Training Zones (TTZ) to achieve the desired effect. You will determine your TTZ in the following section.

 

 

How to Get Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).

 

Let’s get the nerdy stuff out of the way. Here’s a simple formula so you can train at specific heart zones/intensities:

 

The first thing you must do is figure out your maximum heart rate (MHR). I’m going to use this example using my age, 32. (When you use this formula for yourself simply replace 32 with your age.)

 

220 – (your age)= Your maximum heart rate (MHR).

 

Here it is: 220-32= 188 (This would be close to 100% of a maximum heart rate.)

 

This formula is very basic and it’s probably the most commonly used one. If this is good enough for you, then you can skip to the following section.

 

 

However, if you are looking to train with more precision then I invite you to read on.

 

I would like to add the following steps to ensure accuracy. The following formula is called the Karvonen formula.

 

Step 1:

Determine your resting heart rate in the morning, take your pulse using your heart rate monitor or fitness band. Do this as soon as you wake up before you have your cup of coffee and before you train. For the sake of this example, let’s say my resting heart rate (RHR) is 64 bpm.

 

Step 2:

Determine your predicted max heart rate (MHR). Using the example above, my predicted maximum heart rate is 188.

 

Step 3:

We’re also going to incorporate heart rate reserve or “HRR“. Subtract RHR from MHR to determine your heart-rate reserve or HRR. My HRR number is 124.

 

MHR- RHR = HRR

 

Step 4:

Determine your target training zone (TTZ). Your target training zone will depend on your health, activity levels, goals and prior experience with cardio training. Let’s say that you are a person with a healthy heart but you are relatively new to cardio training. In this example you would train between 50-70 percent of your HRR. Multiply your HRR by .50 and .70 to get that range.

 

124 x .50= 62 and 124 x .70= 86.8

 

Then add your RHR. When I add 64 to each number, I get a target training zone (TTZ) of 126 to 151 bpm.

 

 

Heart Rate Training Zone Chart

 

 

heart-rate-training-zone-chart

 

 

Workout #1: 50 to 70 percent of your MHR

 

heart rate monitor workout 50-and-70

 

 

 

This is the first workout on the list. Training at this level would be considered “low intensity”. It’s a zone for people that want to improve their overall health and that are not quite used to intense aerobic work.  The weights you will be grabbing shouldn’t be too heavy. You don’t have to reach 70% of your MHR if you don’t want to, just make sure you are staying above 50%. You will complete 3 rounds of each circuit.

 

Workout Description:

 

  • You’re going to need dumbbells, a kettlebell and a medicine ball.
  • This workout will take you approximately 2030 minutes to complete.
  • You’re going to do 3 different circuits (3 exercises per circuit) in which you will target your entire body.
  • You will be moving from exercise to exercise with very little to no rest.
  • When you complete the 3rd exercise (that will count as one round) of the current circuit you should be around 50-70% of your MHR.
  • At this point you should rest. Rest as much as you need BUT don’t go below 50% of your MHR.
  • Then repeat the circuit again.

Note: 

  • If the kettlebell floor press is too difficult for you, then try holding the static push up plank for 25 secs.

 

 

 

Workout #2: 60 to 80 percent of your MHR

 

Heart Rate Monitor Workouts

 

 

 

Training at this level would be considered “medium-intensity”. The exercises start to become a bit more dynamic and the weights start getting a little heavier. This workout is optimal for burning fat. You want to make sure that you are staying between 60-80% of your MHR. You will complete 3 rounds of each circuit.

 

Workout Description:

 

  • You’re going to need a barbell, dumbbells and a kettlebell.
  • This workout will take you approximately 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • You will be moving from exercise to exercise with very little to no rest.
  • Monitor your heart rate as you go. Make sure you don’t pass 80% of your MHR. If you do, rest and let your heart rate come down a bit.
  • Rest 45 secs after each round (when you complete the 3 exercises of your current circuit).
  • Repeat the exercises again.

 

Note: 


 

Workout #3: 70 to 90 percent of your MHR

 

 70-90-percent-workout

 

 

Training at this level would be considered “high-intensity training”. The exercises will require more coordination and strength. You will be staying between 70-90% of your MHR, but you will be resting longer between circuits. You will complete 3 rounds of each circuit.

 

You will also have fewer exercises to complete. In this case, you will have two exercises instead of three. The more difficult or complicated the workouts are, the shorter they should probably be. Or in other words, the more effort and energy a workout requires, the less time you should take in completing it. It is also more doable to sustain high levels of intensity for a shorter period of time.

 

In these training zones (70-90%) you will also burn more sugars (carbs) than fat during the workout session. However, we are more concerned with post workout metabolism where you will continue to burn calories.

 

Workout Description:

  • You’re going to need dumbbells and a medicine ball.
  • This workout will take you approximately 15-25 minutes to complete.
  • You will rest 60 secs between exercises.
  • Monitor your heart rate as you go. Make sure you don’t pass 90% of your MHR. If you do, rest and let your heart rate come down a bit.
  • Rest 60 secs after each round (when you complete the 2 exercises of your current circuit).
  • Repeat the exercises again.

 

Note: 

 

 

Workout #4: 70 to 90 percent of your MHR

 

target training zone workout

 

 

This workout is similar to the previous one where we are also aiming to train between 70-90% of our MHR. The exercises are different but you will still be following the same protocol. You will complete 3 rounds of each circuit.

 

Workout Description:

  • You’re going to need dumbbells, a barbell and a medicine ball.
  • This workout will take you approximately 15-25 minutes to complete.
  • You will rest 60 secs between exercises.
  • Monitor your heart rate as you go. Make sure you don’t pass 90% of your MHR. If you do, rest and let your heart rate come down a bit.
  • Rest 60 secs after each round (when you complete the 2 exercises of your current circuit).
  • Repeat the exercises again.

 

 

Note: 

 

  • If you can’t do pull ups, try inverted rows instead.
  • If the barbell (forward) lunges are too difficult for you, then try reverse lunges.
  • If you can’t do wall balls because you don’t have a medicine ball or a wall, then either do mountain climbers or kettlebell swings.
  • If you don’t have a barbell then use dumbbells.

 

 

 

 

Heart Rate Monitor Watches

There’s all sorts of different heart rate monitors you can buy if you don’t already have one. Most fitness trackers today come with built in heart rate monitoring capabilities. However, I still think heart rate monitors that come with a chest strap are better at getting a more accurate reading.

If you need some ideas on which heart rate monitors to get then watch this detailed video by Jeff Rizo- TOP 5 Best Heart Rate Monitors 2016.

Now go to the gym and give some of these circuits a try. I promise you they will be both challenging and fun.

 

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Juan Lugo
1 Comment
  • You’re a real deep thkrnei. Thanks for sharing.

    May 9, 2016 at 6:03 pm

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