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Reaching Your Cardio Target Heart Rate

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When performing cardio, heart rate zones should be used as a measurement of exertion. The heart rate zone that an exerciser should work out in, depends on his goals and abilities. Determining cardio pulse rate is important because it is one of the most reliable measurements of how hard a person is working.

Thing Needed to Calculate Heart Rate Zones

A formula that appropriately estimates maximum heart rate is subtracting a persons age from 220. Although not exact, this formula works for most people in most conditions.

Cardio pulse rate must be taken during, not after, exercise. To measure heart rate without interrupting exercise, a heart rate monitor can be worn. Heart rate monitors come in the form of watches or chest straps. Watch heart rate monitors can be programmed to beep when certain heart rate levels are reached. This is useful because the beeping auditory notifies the exerciser that he is performing at an optimum level. Chest strap heart rate monitors are best when used with fitness machines that have adequate heart rate monitor technologies. These fitness machines can read the chest straps and display the heart rate on the equipments' keypad. Either heart rate monitor is a more accurate than an exerciser manually taking his cardio pulse rate in the middle of exercise.

Stage One: 60% to 70% of Maximum Heart Rate

Sometimes called the cardio fat burning zone, the first heart rate stage is between 60% and 70% of maximum heart rate. This zone is considered the fat burning zone because most of the calories expended here are taken from the body's fats. To find the appropriate heart beat range, multiply maximum heart rate by .6 (lower bound) and .7 (upper bound). This stage is best for inexperienced, deconditioned exercisers. A person needs to exercise in this range until he can complete a thirty minute cardio workout within the stage's zone. Exercisers can achieve 60% maximum heart rate by lightly walk or pedaling on a recumbent bike.

Stage Two: 80% to 85% of Maximum Heart Rate

This stage represents an increase in cardio pulse rate to 80% or 85% of maximum heart rate. A person that works out in stage two must first be able to complete a 30 to 60 minute workout in stage one. Stage two exercises include jogging on a treadmill or pedaling on an upright bike. In stage two, a person will be breathing heavy. This stage is meant to build up cardiovascular endurance.

Stage Three: 86% to 90% of Maximum Heart Rate

This stage is only for the advanced exerciser. It represents a heart rate zone of 86% to 90% of a person's maximum heart rate. Even advanced exercisers should not perform whole workouts at this level. Stage three should be used as the upside of an interval. Exercisers should alternate between stage one, two and three when they are ready to approach this level.

There is a risk of over exertion if a person works out in stage three before he has established the appropriate cardiovascular base.

Samantha Kopf - National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

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