Train at percentage HRmax
It is generally accepted that, aerobic capacity is developed by exercising with your heart rate at about 70% of maximum. During walking, or running, this increase is equivalent to about 55% of the VO2 max or, for college aged men and women, to heart rate of 130 to 140 beats per minute.
An alternative and equally effective method for establishing the training threshold is to have the subject exercise at a heart rate that is about 60% of the difference between resting and maximum. This rate is calculated as follows:
HR threshold = HR rest + 0.60 (HRmax – HRrest)
This calculation to determine the threshold training heart rate tends to give a higher value when compared to computing the heart rate simply as 70% of HRmax.
This clearly indicates that your training need not be too strenuous to obtain positive training adaptions. An exercise heart rate of 70% maximum represents moderate exercise with little or no discomfort. This training level, frequently referred to as “the talk test “, is sufficiently intense to stimulate a training effect yet not so strenuous that it limits a person from talking during the workout. It is unnecessary to exercise above this heart rate to improve physiologic capacity. [this type of training is ideal in one’s development of a base to which more intense training can be applied – more on this later]
With the improvement of aerobic fitness, their is a reduction in the exercise heart rate at a given oxygen uptake. It is normal for submaximal heart rate to be lowered 10 to 20 beats per minute as a result of aerobic training. The training intensity will need to be increased periodically for the desired heart rate to be achieved with physiologic improvement. For example a ‘beginner’ who starts with walking would have to walk briskly; this would gradually give way to periods of jogging in the workout; and eventually [without any chance of injury]; continuous running would be needed to achieve the same relative intensity or exercise at the desired heart rate. If the progression in exercise intensity is not matched to training improvements, the exercise program becomes a ‘maintenance’ program for aerobic fitness without further improvements. The beginner scenario was given as an example, however the principle applies to ALL athletes no matter their level. [ more on this at a later stage ]
Is strenuous training more effective?
It is normally accepted, that the greater the relative training intensity above threshold, the greater the training improvement will be. This is however only true within certain limits. Although there may be a minimal “threshold” intensity below which a training effect does not occur, there may also be a “ceiling” above which no further gains are realised. The more fit men and women generally must achieve higher threshold levels to stimulate a training response. [This would also need the athlete to take adaption to training intensity into consideration – more on this later] The ceiling for training intensity is unknown, although 85% VO2max (corresponding to 90% HRmax) is considered an upper limit. At present, no definite research is available to either prove or disprove this notion. An important point is that regardless of the exercise level selected, more is not necessarily better. Excessive exercise increases the chance for injury to bones, joints and muscles.
Reference: Exercise Physiology 4th Edition Pg 403 McArdle Katch Katch
Training to improve Aerobic power utilising Heart Rate