Do I need to keep my heart rate up at all times during exercise?
Posted October 24, 2017
Our Q & A this month comes from our wonderful friends at FASTER: Fitness And Sports Training Enhanced Results. Their team members are experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.
Training Myths: I need to keep my heart rate up at ALL TIMES during exercise
Answer: Many people believe that it is necessary to keep their heart rate high at all times during exercise but this is not true. Keeping your heart rate at the same rate makes you achieve steady-state exercise. Steady-state exercise is not the best for increasing cardiovascular performance or for maximizing calorie burning. The heart is a muscle and like the muscles in your body it achieves the best workouts when it is surprised. Keeping the muscles guessing increases muscle gain just like performing exercise with varying heart rates increases cardiovascular endurance. The heart works best when it is challenged to its maximal levels as well as receiving rests. This is why a heart rate monitor is so helpful for training and performance monitoring. The more in shape you get, the harder it is to reach your red zone because your heart is stronger and working better at higher intensities.
High intensity workouts push your heart to its maximal effort as well as challenge it to relax faster. Working the heart in this way will increase your endurance as well as increase the amount of effort you are able to put into a workout. Your VO2max is the maximal amount of oxygen your body can consume while working out and that is controlled primarily by your heart. Having a heart that can push blood faster and more efficiently gets oxygen to your body more efficiently which makes you more efficient! So, the correct answer to the myth of working out at maximal heart rate is: you should not! If you are working out at a maximal heart rate all the time your body does not get maximal benefits. You are neglecting your body from the recovery phase which allows you to perform better. Varying heart rate intensities will produce much more satisfying results than only performing at steady state exercise!