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Fit 4 Life | Is your training Tuff Enuff?

Published:Thursday | August 16, 2018 | 5:03 PMMarvin Gordon
Exercise intensity not only influences effectiveness and safety, it should also influence other key inputs such as duration, frequency and nutrition

Use heart rate to monitor intensity

Exercise intensity is one of the most important variables of training. Exercise intensity not only influences effectiveness and safety, it should also influence other key inputs such as duration, frequency and nutrition.

  • How hard should one train when trying to get Tuff Enuff?
  • How do I know how hard I am training?

The answers to such questions are often vague: "train hard", "push yourself".

They shouldn't be, though, as there are standards and proven methods of monitoring and managing exercise intensity.

Managing exercise intensity is a balancing act. When it comes to cardiovascular development, exercise must be intense enough to overload the cardio-respiratory system, but not so hard as to overtax any bodily system.

Fitness authorities such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) recommend training within the range of 55 to 85 per cent of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) for the average healthy individual.

Have no idea what VO2 max is?

Don't worry, you don't need to. It is related to heart rate and that is what we will use. 

Note carefully, however, training harder is not necessarily better. In fact, unless your lead a physically active life, both ACSM and ISSA recommend you keep your exercise intensity at the lower end of that scale (VO2 max). 

So, how do you measure intensity? While there are several techniques, the simplest method is to use target heart rate (THR). Target heart-rate is an age-based pulse rate to maintain during exercise to ensure optimal cardiovascular function, according to the ISSA.

There are three methods of estimating target heart rate:

1. A graded exercise test, which is done by a doctor.

2. A percentage of maximal heart rate. More specifically, between 70 and 85 per cent of heart rate max. 

    - Formula: THR range = maximal HR x 0.7 and 0.85 

    - (THR range = target heart rate; maximal HR = 220 - age or 210 - .5 x age)

3. The Karvonen Formula. 

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com