Every workout at The Fitness Connection has 3 components - strength training, flexibility training and Heart ZonesTraining. Heart ZonesTraining is a system of getting fit by measuring heart rate or exercise intensity during a workout, using a heart rate monitor. Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is determined through a series of fitness tests and then custom programs are designed based on your MHR and your fitness goals.
I use a heart rate monitor for every workout I put my clients through as well as every workout I do myself. In my opinion, as well as the opinion of many of my fitness colleagues, if you are not Heart ZonesTraining, you are not maximizing your cardio workouts.

I have been a student of Heart Zones Training since 1997. I have studied it, experimented with and applied it to my own fitness training regime as well as taught it and trained my clients with it. I am a Certified Heart Zones Personal Trainer and I am fully convinced that Heart ZonesTraining is the most effective way to do cardio workouts. In other words, it's about getting the most bang for your buck. You don't need to spend endless hours doing cardio each week. It's not the quantity; it's the quality of your workouts that will give you the results you are looking for.

So what exactly is Heart ZonesTraining? First let me tell you what it ISN'T. If you've ever worked out, you may be familiar with the old adage, 220 minus your age is your Maximum Heart Rate and you should exercise in your target zone of 70 - 80% of that Maximum Heart Rate. False, False, False - 220 minus your age is NOT your Maximum Heart Rate! If any fitness professional is telling you this - run the other way as fast as you can because it's NOT TRUE!

As an example, I am 48 years old. My Maximum Heart Rate is 205. I know this because I've been tested numerous times AND I have seen that number on my heart rate monitor during a hard run. If I used 220 minus my age as my Maximum Heart Rate calculation, it would be 172 bpm and dropping every year. If I trained at 70-80% of 172 bpm, I would be training in a zone that would virtually do nothing to make me fitter. I certainly would not be burning very much fat.

Now let me tell you what Heart Zones Training IS. When you decide to start working out, there should be a plan. If you are haphazardly exercising without a plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to view exercise as training - training to get fitter. One of the many benefits of getting fitter is losing fat! Training is not just exercising. It's exercising with a system and a plan in order to achieve a goal. Heart ZonesTraining is a method of training smarter - more efficiently and more effectively - by training with your heart.

When you go out for a run or a walk, or get on a treadmill, or whatever cardio equipment you use to do your cardio workouts, do you have a plan for your 30-minute, 45-minute or 60-minute workout? Typically, the answer is no. Most people start their work out, turn on the TV or ipod and start moving. You walk or run for whatever time you choose. Some of you may do intervals to break up the monotony and some of you may just stay the course and move at the same pace through the whole workout. Heart Zones Training takes the guesswork out of your workout. It is scientifically based. Using a heart rate monitor, all your workouts are regulated.

Here's how it works. Every heart has a maximum number of times per minute that it can beat, called Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). MHR varies from person to person. Some people have a very high MHR and some have a very low MHR. A higher MHR does not indicate greater fitness, nor does a lower MHR represent less fitness. MHR generally stays the same over your entire life. If it was 200 at age 30, it will most likely be within a few beats of 200 at age 80.

If you know your MHR, you can figure out what heart rates to train at in order to get fit. For the purposes of Heart ZonesTraining, your heart rates are divided into 5 zones; 50-60% of MHR (Zone 1), 60-70% (Zone 2), 70-80% (Zone 3), 80-90% (Zone 4) and 90-100% (Zone 5). Working out in these heart zones enhances functional capacity. Improvement in functional capacity comes from increases in the number and size of blood vessels, an increase in vital capacity and an increase in the size and strength of your heart.

Working out in these 5 zones also helps you narrow down the exercise intensity best suited to burn fat. Most beginners find their max fat burning is between 70 and 80% of their MHR. Knowing your MHR and using Heart ZonesTraining you will work up to and then spend most of every cardio workout at that exercise intensity. If you used the 220 minus your age formula, you could be off by as many as 30 beats and literally be spinning your wheels.

Do you know women who religiously go to aerobics classes or walk for miles every day or use a treadmill or bike or whatever, and don't seem to change their bodies very much? That's because they are not maximizing their training by monitoring their heart. How do you know if you are at 80% of your MHR without a monitor? With Heart ZonesTraining, you get fit and you lose fat. And the greatest benefit of getting fit and losing fat? FEELING GREAT ABOUT YOURSELF!

Heart ZonesTraining works. It works for me, personally and it works for my clients. I test every 2 weeks throughout the program and the proof is in the results of the tests. You get fitter, you lose fat, you become stronger and you get healthier. Most importantly, YOU FEEL GREAT ABOUT YOURSELF! THAT is what Heart ZonesTraining is all about.

Sub Max Tests*

Two by Four Minutes test
One Minute Chair test
3-Minute Step test
5-Minute Walk test
The Beep test
The Talk test
2-Minute 10 Beats test
Easy-Moderate-Hard test
Big Number test
Maximum Heart Rate
Sub Max Test Score Card

*All tests are in .PDF form

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