Heart Rate Based Training: Part Three

Part Three

OK, lets jump right into another heart rate profile. I will be using these profiles to introduce more ideas and then we will develop them further so that you can use the concepts in your own HRBT. The below profile is from the same guy as the last one. This however represents a series of exercises that emphasize the brain and spine and overall coordination: he goes from a speed-bag workout to several runs through an agility ladder and wobble board to sparring with a partner using target mitts to heavy bag workout and then to a warm down cycle. He moved from exercise to exercise and his time at each station was from 1-3 minutes; then looking for a 20 beat recovery before the next set. To an outside observer he worked harder on this workout than the last one; he was breathing heavily, sweating profusely, moving from event to event with what appeared to be little recovery time. One clue; he was smiling more this time than last. Also note that the take off slope and recovery slope vary little from the beginning of the workout to the end. He just wasn’t all that tired. If you had asked him latter in the day he would have said he was more refreshed from this workout than the last one. A legitimate question  is what actually set the pace for his workout. You can guess all day but I will tell you; he didn’t himself know at the time. You will notice the horizontal line through his profile; that line happens to be what his recently measured anaerobic threshold (AT) was: he self paced so that his average heart rate for the hour was what his AT was. This makes sense as for an hour you cannot work above your AT for prolonged periods of time. And the nature of the work did not result in a cumulative fatiguing of the heart such that the heart rate profile reflects a heart rate directly related to the metabolic work. In other words his heart, muscles, lungs, and, under the hood, his mitochondria were working near their sustainable limit but comfortably so. Unlike the previous heart rate profile we do not see accumulating heart rate response fatigue across the workout and we also do not have the same degree of excursions.

OK, so what have we learned from these two heart rate profiles? Besides, of course, the basic points I laid out as specifics like slope of take off and recovery? We’ve learned that the HRP can inform us about:

  • What our true AT might be by allowing adequate recovery over a full workout. Remember AT is not a fixed number, we will get into this later, but it is a useful number to know to plan your workouts
  • By setting our preplanned recovery heart rate value, remember the first workout was based on no more than a 15 beat recovery as the trigger for the set scheme and this one was a 20 beat recovery, again by choosing different recovery heart beat parameters we are testing a different kind of fitness; more on this later too.

If you can hang in there with this process you will know how to test your heart, your lungs, your various muscle groups and the underlying capacity of your whole body to perform work and to distinguish between work and power; remember power is just work divided by time. You will be able to evaluate underlying heart disease and whether or how much your heart is the limiting factor in your workouts or whether some other factor dominates.

End Of Part Three

Go To Part Four

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