How to Use your Heart Rate to Increase the Quality of Your Cardio Routine

 Heart Focused Cardio

A cardio workout provides a popular method for burning calories and increasing heart health. You can do cardio in a variety of different ways, from jumping rope to ellipticals or biking. Whether in the gym or jogging through the park, it's important to know how to get the most out of your cardio by calculating your target heart rate for your workout. 

We consulted the Mayo Clinic to find the latest guidelines. Check out these tips to keep you in the zone.

How to Calculate Your Maximum& Target Heart Rate

Maximum heart rate represents the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute. Exceeding this maximum won't actually help you lose weight faster, but it can cause health-damaging stress to your heart and body.

Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For a 20-year old the maximum would be 200, and for a 35-year-old the maximum would be 185.

Your target heart rate zone will help you stay in the ideal range for the intensity of cardio workout you desire, whether low, medium, or high intensity. There are a number of steps required to find your target zone. After you have found your maximum heart rate (MHR), follow these steps.

  1. Resting heart rate (RHR) - count your beats per minute first thing in the morning while relaxing. The average adult will have numbers between 60 and 100.
  2. Heart rate reserve (HRR) - subtract your RHR from your MHR. (e.g. 185-85=100)
  3. Low range target - multiply your HRR by 70% (or .7). Add your RHR to this number.
  4. High range target - Multiply your HRR by 85% (or .85). Add your RHR to this number.

These high and low range numbers will represent your target heart rate range.

Low-Intensity Cardio Workouts

Low-intensity cardio workouts are often done over a longer period of time. Performing several intense workouts over a week may lessen muscles breakdown compared to a more intense cardio workout. Most low-intensity workouts are done at about 60-70% of MHR.

Medium-Intensity Workouts

Medium-intensity workouts are performed at 70-80% of your MHR. A compromise between high-level training and low-impact workouts, medium intensity cardio can fill that missing gap in your workout routine. 

High-Intensity Interval Training

A high-intensity cardio workout is definitely a calorie burner, but it's important to remember to combine proper measures of rest when training at this speed. High-intensity workouts should be performed at 80%of your MHR or above. Designed for short intervals, high-intensity cardio is often referred to as HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, combining 2 an4-minutete exercises with 1 minute resting periods.

Learn more about adding cardio into your workout routine, and get in touch with a personal trainer to start your workout journey! Professional trainers can help you customize your training to fit your individual fitness level and goals.