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Heart Rate Training for Beginners

From PolarUSA

Once you have selected the Polar heart rate monitor model that is right for you, it's time to start your program. Familiarize yourself with the operation of the heart rate monitor. Like anything technical, it may seem a little complicated at first, but you'll get more comfortable with each use. Read the manual, or if you have any questions, email us at or call our Customer Service line at 800-227-1314.

Let's get started!

Step 1
Determine Your Personal Target Zones

Target Zones

60-70% of max hr weight loss, building endurance
70-80% " " " weight management, improve cardio fitness

Now use one of the following formulas to set up your TZs

Option 1 Age-based formula
220 minus your age (A) = estimated max hr (HRMx)

To find your target zones

MHR X .60=( ) MHR X .70=( ) TZ1
MHR X .70=( ) MHR X .80=( ) TZ2

You now have your two personal target zones

Option 2 Karvonen formula
This formula uses your age and fitness level to determine your target zones. It's a more personalized number.

First, you must take your heart rate for three mornings in a row before getting up from bed. Once you have those numbers, take the average of the sum:

Morning 1# + Morning 2# + Morning 3# = ( X)
(X) divided by 3 = Morning Resting HR (MRHR)

This is the single best indicator of your state of fitness. Once you have this number established as a baseline, you can use it to understand more about yourself than you can imagine. Take it again every once in a while, at least once every two weeks.

As your fitness improves, you will most likely see that number going down. And that's important. It takes time to start losing the weight. Many people quit because they get on the scale and they don't see any difference. This number will tell you that your fitness level is improving. That means the weight should be coming off soon after. By seeing that you're actually improving, you're more likely to stick with it.

Now use your resting heart rate number as follows:

220 minus your age (A)= estimated max hr (HRMx)

HRMx minus MRHR= (C)

Now find your personal target zones

(C) X .60 = (D) D + MRHR = ( ) 60% limit number
(C) X .70 = (E) E + MRHR = ( ) 70% limit number

(C) X .70 = (D) D + MRHR = ( ) 70% limit number
(C) X .80 = (E) E + MRHR = ( ) 80% limit number

Janet is 40 years old and her morning resting hr is 58.

220 minus 40 = 180
180 minus 58 = 122

122 X .60 = 73.2 73 + 58 = 131
122 X .70 = 85.4 85 + 58 = 143

Her 60-70% Target Zone would be 131-143

Now use that formula to determine both of your target zones.

Option 3 OwnZone™ Feature
If you own one of the M-Series models, just follow the instructions on how to go through a warm-up and it will find it for you automatically. Once you have it, start your exercise. If you ar looking for a lower intensity workout, stay in the lower half of the zone. If you seek higher intensity, keep it in the upper half. Its that easy.

Option 4 Stress test
Have your physician perform a stress test and determine your max hr and
target zones for you. This is especially important if you are just starting out
an exercise program, are obese, or are coming back from a long layoff.

Step 2
Choose the Zone that corresponds to your goal

If you're exercising to lose weight, try to do at least three workouts a week for 30 minutes in your 60-70% target zone. Time and intensity are the keys. If you can go longer, you will only benefit more.

Exercise Tip: You can burn almost twice as much calories by exercising twice a week for 1 hour, as you would exercising 5 times for 30 minutes. (Pocket Personal Trainer by Eric Harr)

As you get more fit aerobically, you should try different workouts each day. Your body will adapt to your exercise if you do the same thing over and over. Now that you have an HRM and know your Target Zones, you can use any activity to get a workout. Just let your HRM guide you.

Sample workout week once you move beyond a beginner:

Monday Exercise for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 60-70 %. Take the first 10 minutes to warm up below 60%.

Wednesday Walk to hill near your house below 60% as a warm-up. Once there, do hill repeats (walk up and recover while walking down, then repeat). While walking up, don't let your heart rate get above 80%. When walking down, don't start the next hill climb until your heart rate gets back down to 60%. Start with three of these and add on from there. Walk home at 60% to cool down

Friday Warm up for 10 minutes at 60%. Then exercise for 15 minutes at a steady pace staying in the 70-80% range. Then cool down for 5 minutes at 60% to cool down.

Weekend Try another activity using your HRM.

There are many different heart rate-based exercise programs available on the Internet or in books. The Polar Precision Weight Management booklet is available in the Polar Store. Try the sample workouts above, or find one that works for you.

The key here is calorie burn. You need to exercise long enough to maximize calorie burn. But if you are like most people, you also have time constraints. An hour workout is a great benchmark to work towards, because you can get great caloric burn during 60 minutes. Variety is the key. A good rule of thumb. If you have the time, do a longer workout at a lower intensity (60-70%). If you have 30 minutes, warm-up and try to maintain a higher intesity (70-80%). You want to maximize the time that you have. If you have no time constraint, then build a program that incorporates both, like the one listed above. Make sure you are ready to take on those types of workouts. Check with your doctor before you move to the next level of exercise.


If you are just starting to exercise, or are trying to take your exercise to the next level, you should check with your doctor to make sure that it is safe for you to do so.

The goal of Team Beachbody is to provide you with solutions to reach your health and fitness goals.
Click here to learn more about Team Beachbody Coach Rich Dafter.

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Hi, I'm Rich Dafter - full time dad, life-long runner, Team Beachbody Coach and Polar Global Ambassador. By the Grace of God, I have been able to raise my kids working from home by helping people get healthier, fitter and have better quality of life as a full-time Team Beachbody Coach since 2007. more...

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