CALCULATION OF TRAINING HEART RATE RANGE
In general, heart rate is the best indicator of exertion. Since it is measured easily, it can be used
to establish appropriate exercise intensity. It is customary to calculate a range, with both lower
and upper endpoints, where training is likely to be most beneficial. If an individual consistently
trains below a certain level, e.g., 60% of capacity, gains will be minimal (insufficient overload).
On the other hand, training above a certain level, e.g., 80% of capacity, is difficult to sustain for
an appropriate length of time and can lead to injuries.
Heart rate is usually expressed in beats per minute. It is impractical, however, to use this
"minute" rate for exercise. An accepted approach is to think in term of a 10 second period. This
is much more practical when applied during an exercise session, as measurement beyond 10
seconds can lead to erroneous estimation since the heart rate falls so rapidly once exercise is
Measurement of heart rate, at rest or during exercise, can be taken by palpating the radial (wrist)
or carotid (neck) artery. (Do not palpate both carotid arteries at the same time.) It is important to
teach program participants how to measure their own heart rate, both at rest and during exercise
sessions. This should be a tool that they use in their own personal fitness programs.
The heart rate should be measured after a "steady state" is reached, e.g., after at least 5 minutes
of aerobic activity such as running. Once it is measured, the heart rate measure provides
feedback in terms of exercise intensity. If the measured heart rate is below the calculated lower
end of the training heart rate range, then the participant knows to pick up the pace. If it is above
the upper end, the participant should slow down.
Measurement of actual training heart rate should be performed as follows:
while still exercising, find the pulse in the wrist;
stop briefly and begin counting the pulse for a 10 second time period (a timepiece is
required). Note: It is important to begin counting as soon as possible after stopping since
the pulse begins to fall immediately;
the first count is actually "zero", not "one";
count 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on for the 10 second period; then,
calculate the training heart rate range as shown on the following page.