Basics / Sport-scientific Scripts
Dominant Abilities / Coordination / Strength / Speed / Endurance / Technique / What happens to the body when it gets in motion / Conditioning for Rowing / Anaerobic Threshold / Heart-rate Training -zones / Phases of Adaptation / Supercompensation / Annual Programming / Variety / Training for Young Athletes / Advice for young rowers
Sports scientists have clearly demonstrated that a number of systems within the body are associated to heart rate. The aerobic and anaerobic energy systems (see Endurance Training), and cardiovascular development can all be clearly defined with heart rate. As a general rule each system is represented by a percentage of an individuals heart rate maximum.
Maximum Heart Rate
The Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is the highest possible heart rate you can achieve. It is not uncommon for someone with a history of sport to be able to exceed this calculated MHR. If this is the case then a MHR Stress Test should be completed. If you are new to an endurance sport, or returning after a long absence, then the above method is adequate. Often the unfit do not achieve their maximum. It is also well documented that different sports have varying MHR associated with them - this depends on the size of the muscle groups involved. Cycling for example often shows a MHR some 5 - 10 beats lower than in running. If you are a full time athlete or a competitor, training daily, then a stress test should be completed for all disciplines. I will discuss the Stress Test in greater detail in a further edition of this page.
With running it is common to hear of a variety of different training runs - Tempo, Long Slow Distance, Hill Repetitions and so on. It is possible to exactly determine the exact pace for each of these runs using a heart rate monitor. The physiological improvements of each type of run can be best achieved using a heart rate monitor (HRM). A particular training zone can be calculated for use with you HRM, from your MHR and resting heart rate (RHR).
Calculating your Resting Heart Rate
Each morning as you wake up you should take your pulse. A ten second count, multiplied by six, is sufficient. This should be averaged out over the week to find your resting heart rate.
Calculating your Training Zones
The most effective method of calculating your zones is to use the Karvonen equation. This takes account of your (RHR) and therefore your Working heart rate (WHR). The WHR is the difference between your MHR and your RHR. Each training zone is a percentage of your WHR, plus your RHR.
Example: To calculate your 70% Training Zone
1.) MHR=192 and the RHR=45
2.) WHR=MHR minus RHR=192 - 45=147
Z=WHR multiplied by Training Zone %=147 x 70%=102.9
70% Training zone =Z plus RHR=102.9 + 45=147.9 beats per minute
The Heart Rate Training Zones
Within each training zone subtle physiological effects take place to enhance your fitness. It is worth understanding the physiological benefits of training in each zone.
The Energy Efficient or Recovery Zone - 60% to 70%
. Much of the physiological benefits of heart rate training is involved in the bodies energy systems. One of these systems is responsible for the long-term supply of energy to the working muscles. Fat is an abundant source of energy for the endurance athlete. It has been clearly demonstrated that training within this heart rate for long slow runs - especially overdistance - develops the bodies ability to feed the working muscles more efficiently. All easy recovery running should be completed at a maximum of 70 %. The other major advantage to running in this zone, is that while you are happily fat burning you may loose weight and you will be allowing your muscles to re-energize with glycogen, which has been expended during those faster paced workouts. Underestimate this training zone at your peril. Often at the end of six weeks training within this zone it is possible to race unbelievably well! Personal Best have been known.
The Aerobic Zone - 70% to 80%
It is during this zone that you will be training your cardiovascular system. The bodies ability to transport oxygen to, and carbon dioxide away from, the working muscles can be developed and improved. As you become fitter and stronger from training in this zone it will be possible to run some of your long weekend runs at up to 75%, so getting the benefits of some fat burning and improved aerobic capacity. 75% running often feels good. This zone is also ideal for developing local muscle strength.
The Anaerobic Zone - 80% to 90%
This is the zone in which an enormous amount of benefit can be gained. Somewhere between 80 and 90% your individual anaerobic threshold is found - sometimes referred to the point of deflection. During these heart rates the amount of fat being utilized as the main source of energy is greatly reduced and glycogen stored in the muscle is predominantly used. One of the by-products of burning this glycogen, is the runners worst enemy, Lactic Acid. There is a point at which the body can no longer remove the lactic acid from the working muscles quickly enough. This happens at an individual heart rate for us all and is accompanied by a rapid rise in heart rate and a slowing of your running pace - sound familiar? This is your anaerobic threshold or point of deflection (POD). Through the correct training it is possible to delay the POD by being able to increase your ability to deal with the lactic acid for a longer period of time or by pushing the POD higher. The fitter you are the nearer you will be racing to your POD. Running 5 minute/ miles does not mean you are running at your POD if the training you have been under-going is incorrect. Assuming you are fit you will be racing 10ks at just below your POD and 5ks right on it. Sometimes elite runners can hold a pace above the POD. To discover your anaerobic threshold and how best to delay the effects of the lactic acid will be discussed in depth at a later date.
The Red Line Zone 90% to 100%
In this zone you will only be able run for short periods of time. It effectively trains your fast twitch muscle fibers and helps to develop speed. It is worth being aware that to develop this speed it is important to have first developed your ability to deal with lactic acid. This zone is reserved for interval running and race peaking. Only the very fit are able to train effectively within this zone. The value of each training zone should not be underestimated. 70 % often feels very slow at first but do not be put off - Keep at it! To utilize the zones correctly it is important to phase your training. Each zone is a stepping zone to a peak. Miss out a step and the next becomes a jump.
How to work out Training Intensity ----> Use the Heart Rate
As discussed above, there is a correlation between exercise intensity and the type of energy system used. Cardiac output is the major determinant of oxygen supply to the muscles. When the intensity of the exercise reaches a certain point, the cardiac output is no longer able to supply enough oxygen to the muscles, and anaerobic systems take over to supply the extra energy. Cardiac output is determined by stroke volume (relatively constant during exercise) and heart rate, which increases as exercise intensity increases. If we know the exercise intensity level at which the cardiac output begins to fail in oxygen supply, we can work out which energy systems we are using at given exercise intensities. The heart rate is our indicator of exercise intensity.
It has been shown that at about 80-90% of maximum heart rate, there is no longer adequate oxygen supplied to working muscles. This figure is known as the Anaerobic Threshold, because, beyond this heart rate anaerobic glycolysis must be used to contribute the extra energy and lactic acid will start to accumulate in the working muscles. The actual percentage will vary slightly from person to person, but is relatively constant within the individual. Some useful observations can be drawn from the general figure.
1) If you desire to increase your athlete’s endurance capacity, you can simply take their heart rates and figure the percentage of each individuals maximum. Anywhere below 60-65% is not having much of a training effect, anywhere over
80-85% is too hard, they will be using anaerobic energy sources. So, a range of
65-80% of maximum heart rate will ensure they are training solidly within the bounds of aerobic metabolism.
2) If you desire to increase your athletes anaerobic capacity, they should be training with a heart rate of more than 85% of maximum. They will not be able to keep this up for long, hence it is usually done as interval training, circuits, etc.
* It is suggested that training with a combination of the above methods, it is actually possible over time to increase an athlete’s anaerobic threshold. Additionally, it is certain that with training over several months and /or years, athletes can increase the tolerance of their muscles to the effects of lactic acid and continue to function at high intensities with levels of lactic acid that would stop an untrained individual in their tracks.