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Question
Posted by: Fit for life | 2004/02/26

Effective Gyming

Hi, I'm 1.76 tall and weigh 59 kg. I go to gym on a regular basis (4 - 5 times a week). I need to know what my heart rate should be in order to get more fit. I feel like I'm wasting my time. I have no special preverence on a spesific exercise and like running, cycling, swimming, rowing and the staircase. I don't need to loose wieght at this stage but want to tone - especially over my mid-riff and butt - and get fit. Thank you

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Our expert says:
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HI there

I'm not a huge believer in the use of heart rate for training - I think that there are better ways of monitoring your training and controlling the intensity. If you check the forum, I've just answered a similar question from "Rhonda" and so that answer is also applicable to you, if you have the time to read it.

Now, heart rate is one of those things that is a powerful tool in the right hands and a very dangerous one in the wrong hands. The biggest fault people make is trying to prescribe training zones - setting limits where you have to train. Very often, these limits just happen to be more or less correct, but this is usually co-incidental. For example, I could say to you that for weight loss and fitness, you need to aim for an intensity that would be described as moderate - the type of intensity you could sustain for 40 to 60 minutes. On a scale of 1 to 10, this might be a 6 to 7. Now, it just so happens that heart rate during this session will be somewhere around 60 to 75% of your maximum, but actually using that to set the intensity is risky. IN otherwords, it works one way, not so well the other way.
It's particularly relevant because you are doing different types of exercise - it's probable that your heart rate will be higher when running than when using the staircase or cycling, because you use your arms and legs in a more dynamic contraction. So, what is a good 'range' in running is probably too hard in cycling. Therefore, my advice for you is to be subjective - you'd be surprised to learn how accurate that actually is. If you can get to the gym and push yourself quite hard - perhaps a typical day would be 40 minutes in total, with an average rating of about 7 on a 10 point scale, then that's a good session. What would be even better is if you alternate different intensities - so, for example, you can push really hard for about 5 minutes (doing any activity), and then take it easy for 5, and so on. This should really help you improve your fitness.

GOod luck

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