Why a Heart Rate Monitor

From the Desk of Dr. Len

Why a Heart Rate Monitor

Dr. Len Lopez – Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The reason you need a heart rate monitor is that most people do their Aerobic Workout Wrong….or at the wrong pace for their current level of fitness.

An Aerobic Workout is supposed to be easy, stress reducing, low to moderate low intensity.

So, unless you are an elite distance runner, marathoner or triathlete – you should probably keep your heart rate below 75% of your maximum heart rate (aerobic threshold or MaxVO2).  That way you can burn fat, and make the workout stress reducing.

Just because you are running, jogging, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing or taking an aerobic class – Doesn’t Automatically Mean it is Aerobic for YOU!

Yes these are some of the more traditional aerobic type of activities – but when you perform that at a heart rate that is above 70-75% of your maximum heart rate (unless you are an elite endurance athlete).  I can pretty much assure you that your aerobic activity has now switched over and become Anaerobic!

Aerobic exercise activates your Aerobic Metabolic System.  This essentially means your body will produce energy by breaking down FATS (yes that means body fat)!  And in order to breakdown fat you need oxygen.  This is why the physical activity you are doing needs to be low to moderate/low intensity – so you can breath and intake oxygen.  Walk and talk at the same time.

On the other hand, Anaerobic Exercise such as sprinting, running, weight lifting, boxing, etc…..are Anaerobic exercises that activate your Anaerobic Metabolism.  This moderate to high intensity exercise will trigger your body to produce energy by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins (lean muscle) – NOT Stored Body Fats!  The reason you can’t breakdown fats when you are in your anaerobic state is because there is No Oxygen.  Remember, you Need Oxygen to Burn Fat – so if you are huffing and gasping for air as you run, bike, jog, dance, etc….there is a really good chance you are Anaerobic.

There’s nothing wrong with being or training anaerobically, I train both ways all the time!  But if you are making it an aerobic workout – make sure it is aerobic and use a heart rate monitor to make sure you stay in your aerobic threshold (below 70-75% of your heart rate). Too many people perform their aerobic workout – in an Anaerobic state that makes it counter productive and one of the primary reasons why they plateau, can’t lose any more weight, or always seem tired.  They are overworking their body.

A heart rate monitor simply lets you know how intense your workout is by telling you what your heart rate is.  As I stated earlier, your aerobic threshold or MaxVO2, is that tipping point to where your body goes from burning fats for energy – to burning carbs and lean muscle.  It’s OK to train above that threshold, just know that you are triggering anaerobic metabolism, which means your body is under great physical stress.

As to what that threshold is for you, I like the 180 Rule, which is pretty close to the old standard that has been used for years which is Subtract your age from 220, than multiple it by a number between 60 – 85 to determine what your aerobic threshold is.  Since most people aren’t good with numbers, the 180 Rule is simple and pretty accurate.  Simply Subtract your age from 180 and that should be the highest your heart rate should go when you train aerobically. There are some other parameters that I talk about in more detail in “To Burn or Not To Burn – Fat is the Question.”

Give a heart rate monitor a try if you are stuck and have hit a plateau and or have been dealing with fatigue and lack of energy.  You could be over-working, over-training your body!

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