Target heart rate and conditioning your heart

A heart rate monitor can help you condition your heart
photo: Greg L

It can be confusing.  What is all this business about target heart rate, and how do you really condition your heart?  In reality, it is pretty simple.  Here's the skinny:

Target heart rate:

Your target heart rate is the zone at which you can maximize heart conditioning without pushing yourself too hard, thereby creating injury.  To figure out your heart rate zone:

  • Subtract your age from 220 to calculate your maximum heart rate.
    • e.g. 220-40= 180 
  • Figure 70 to 85 percent of the resulting number.  (Multiply by .7 to .85)
    • 180x.7=126, 180x.85=153 
  • Now you have the lower and upper limits of you target heart rate zone.
    • THR= 126-153
Conditioning your heart:

In order to condition your heart, aim to stay within the target heart rate zone.  Then, a couple times each week, try interval training.  When interval training, do bursts of activity at 90% of your maximum heart rate.  (In this example 90% of maximum heart rate is 162).  Follow with recovery periods that are at 60% of your maximum (108).  The result?  A stronger heart that can sustain activity for longer periods of time.  With two young kids to run after, I'll take that.  

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