Our expert says:
There's a lot of confusion on this one. First of all, the reply you got on the forum that your max is the highest safe heart rate is incorrect. I have seen and worked with athletes who are at least 10 beats per minute higher than this, sometimes even 20, and there is no problem.
The idea however is that if you know your maximum then you can protect your body by not training too hard relative to that. The problem however is that not all people are the safe and so this equation is relatively meaningless to a lot of people, possibly including yourself.
I just at this stage, need to make the observation that your numbers may not be accurate - remember that because the watch picks up an electrical signal, it can be interfered with and the 233 is almost definitely interference, maybe from electrical power lines, fences etc. So don't worry about that - it's an impossible heart rate. 200 is fine, but getting above 210 is probably a mistake.
As for what you should do with this information, my advice is to aim for a heart rate that allows you to train for between 30 and 45 minutes per session (at least) and on 4 to 5 days per week. The intensity, as mentioned, will range between 70 and 90% of maximum, depending on the exercise you do and the goals for that session. For improved performance, train at 85% of max and above. For weight loss and fitness, train at between 70 and 80% of maximum.
Do not get caught up in to believing the heart rate monitor as the final authority in your fitness level. The best way to use your heart rate monitor is to use it to compare training sessions from week to week. Therefore, if you train one day doing a particular session, take note of your heart rate. The next time you do the exact same session (say 30 minutes cycling at a given speed), you should be able to compare your heart rate during the session. If it is lower, then it indicates that you are fitter than before, and your training is going well. If it is higher, then it shows that you are either tired, or training too hard or are possibly becoming ill. This is a sign that you are in need of a few easy training days.
It is important that you don't think of heart rate as the absolute indication of fitness or health. It is the differences between heart rates in exactly the same session that is important, and understanding how your own individual heart rate differs from week to week will allow you to train with great precision.
Lastly, remember that heart rate depends on many factors - hydration, mood, stress levels, temperature and so on. Therefore, if your heart rate is not exactly what you think it should be, don't worry too much. Rather look at long term changes and patterns in heart rate, and try to interpret them as I explained above.
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