Health and Fitness Series
It's time to take this series down the fitness road and start exploring. We have spent the last few weeks getting you started healthy eating, and learning how to manage your diet, so the next step is getting you moving. It is true, you can lose a lot of weight and get healthier by diet alone, but you will not get fit with just diet. You can go ahead and lose 20, 50, 100+ pounds, but if you have not exercised, you still won't be able to comfortably climb stairs, go for a jog, or even bike ride without getting fatigued. I think a lot of people set out to achieve the wrong goals, they want to "look" good instead of feel good. The coolest thing about fitness is if you are trying to "feel" better by exercising, the looking better part nearly comes naturally, even more so if you are eating healthy. I understand vanity in our society is HUGE, especially with social media pictures at our fingertips all day. You must have the understanding that so many of those pictures are not real. The filters and adjustments are crazy! Not to mention many of those people make it their career to constantly post near nude fitness pictures daily. Nothing can drive me more crazy than seeing pictures of women with their goods hanging out everywhere and "lifting" weights, especially when they are not the least bit sweaty and you know darn well that if they were at a real gym they would be kicked out for simply being unsanitary....gross! I am 39 years old and I bought my first gym membership the summer of my freshman year of college, so I was 19. That calculates to roughly 20 years (give or take a few months off for moving) of gym memberships, and many many many day gym passes during traveling. I've seen a lot, and I can tell you I've never seen those insta-famous social media models in any of those years, thank heavens!
Anyway, off my rant and back to the importance of fitness. The definition of fitness straight out of the dictionary; the condition of being physically fit and healthy. The definition of physically fit out of the same dictionary; to be in a state of health and well being. Physical fitness is defined as the body's ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist disease, and to react to emergency situations. I know these seem pretty self explanatory, but if you think a little bit deeper here, some people that are "thin/skinny" may NOT be physically fit, and on the flip side, you can be overweight and be physically fit. This is a debate that many argue with me and it is my personal opinion, but I believe you are far healthier to be 10-20 pounds overweight and able to physically keep up with workouts of any kind then those that are lean and not able to run even a mile. Fitness does not have to be defined as lean. The purpose of fitness is to FUNCTION optimally in a healthy state. Function is a huge word and I am going to keep bringing it to you. Fitness is having a healthy cardiovascular system, meaning your heart and lungs are not taxed and tired from simply walking up a flight of stairs. The heart and lungs function to move blood and nutrients throughout your body with ease. The only way to keep the cardiovascular system happily working in harmony in you body is to make it work.
Heart Rate Zones...Let's get to it!
Quick Disclaimer: these are all generalized calculations. As with any calculations made or programs started, it is best to be under physician supervision if you have preexisting conditions or other concerns. These are not personal physician based plans for just you.
There are various Heart Rate Zones to understand and those include resting, target, reserve, and max. There are 5 other Zones to help describe percentages of your heart rate under working conditions. The general calculations for Heart Rate are below:
Resting Heart Rate: heart rate at rest; typically taken as an average of calculations counting beats per minute optimally in the morning before you arise from bed.
Maximum Heart Rate = 220 - Age
Heart Rate Reserve: the difference between resting heart rate (HRrest) and maximum heart rate (HRmax).
HRR = HRmax - HRrest. Heart rate reserve is used when determining exercise heart rates.
Target Heart Rate: is defined as the minimum number of heartbeats in a given amount of time in order to reach the level of exertion necessary for cardiovascular fitness, specific to a person's age, gender, or physical fitness.
Max Heart Rate 220 - 39(my age) = 181 beats/minute (Max HR)
Resting Heart Rate 50 beats per minute (fitbit and machine morning average)
Heart Rate Reserve 181 - 50 = 131 beats/minute
Target Heart Rate 131 (reserve) x .5 (50%) = 65.5 --------65.5 + 50 (resting) = 115.5 Target
*these are specific to my and my personal calculations for example purposes
Zone 1 - Healthy Heart Zone: 50% - 60% of your Max HrEasiest, Most Comfortable Zone, Beginner Safe
Light walk with friends or pet
*Exercise Benefits: Body fat decreases, blood pressure lowered, cholesterol lowered, muscle mass improvements, decreased risk for degenerative diseases, safety high.
Zone 2 - Easy Transition Zone: 60% - 70% of your Max Hr Fat Burning Zone – you can train for extended periods of time in this zone. 75% - 85% of all calories from fat as fuel, Beginner Safe, early intermediate
Easy power walk or light jog, able to still talk with ease
*Exercise Benefits: Gain muscle mass, lose fat mass, strengthen heart muscle, fat utilization zone.
Zone 3 - Aerobic Zone: 70% - 80% of your Max HrAerobic Zone – Moderate energy expenditure. Running is a great example. You can speak, but not easily hold a long conversation with ease due to heavier breathing.
Intermediate and early advanced
*Exercise Benefits: Improved overall functional capacity with increase in the number and size of blood vessels, increased vital capacity, respiratory rate, max pulmonary ventilation, pulmonary diffusion, increase in size and strength of the heart, improvements in cardiac output and stroke volume.
Zone 4 - Threshold Zone: 80% - 90% of your Max Hr
Anaerobic & max caloric burn, intense exercise, breathing hard/panting
*Exercise Benefits: Max fat burn, but you must be fit enough to train with some oxygen present for additional fat burn. No fat burning if exercising above fat burning heart rate, high total calories burned during exercise, carbohydrates as source of calories/fuel, improved VO 2
Zone 5 - Preformance Topline Zone: 90% - 100% of your Max HrPeak Race Zone – Athlete Only Zone! Advanced +
All out training, example: sprints
*Exercise Benefits: Highest total calories burned, but lowest percentage of fat calories. This zone is only for the very healthy and fit!!! Spending too much time in this zone, even for elite athletes can be painful, cause injuries and lead to over training, which leads to poor performance!
The chart above is one representation on the heart rate zones with the heart rate percentage on the left and age on the top of the graph. Again these are relative not exact because everyone is different. Depending on personal goals, you can aspire to reach zones. In the light yellow above, this zone should most definitely be reached by everyone DAILY. It is basically movement in general. Even if you had a great and super intense week at the gym or marathon training, whatever, you should still get some movement in at least in the light/moderate zone daily. The darker yellow is labeled obviously as the "fat burning" level and it is that, but it's not the only level that will lose fat. I find that there is a strong confusion in the fitness industry that leads us to believe that just a little Zone 2-3 workout here and there will be all we need to get fit and stay fit. Yes, it's totally better than nothing BUT, you don't keep pushing yourself. On the contrary to what you may think and feel some days, our bodies physically adapt VERY quickly to exercise. Over just the course of a few weeks, your heart becomes more efficient and the workouts become easier. You stop pushing your heart to get stronger and stronger. There is a point that you do indeed need to not keep pushing so hard and maintaining that fitness achievement is super important, but keep pushing yourself and your body a little bit more each week or workout, etc. The fallacy that you don't burn fat when doing anaerobic workouts is just that, a fallacy. It is true that our bodies switch fuels dependent upon workout load. As the rate of our breathing increases in anaerobic workouts, which decreases oxygen, we switch from burning fat as fuel to glucose. So technically during those shorter duration of time that we are in a high intense/hardcore workout, we are burning up glucose as fuel, but briefly. The high intensity training end result is the body staying in "training mode" post training for a few hours following training. So much research is out there showing us that high intensity training will keep the body needing more fuel (burning fat because it's post workout time) longer, PLUS you are going to burn more overall calories during a high intense workout than an aerobic workout just due to its workload. More calories burned = bigger deficit = weight loss if that is your goal. I know I touch a lot on weight loss for everyone on here, but I am going to start including tips for my athletes also. In regards to the heart rate zones for athletes, hitting those two top zones is crucial in making performance improvements.
Next week I will go more in depth with my training schedule, but I wanted to briefly touch on it now to put the heart rate zones into more perspective for training purposes. I schedule my training for all eight days of the week (I know there are only 7 days in a week, my workouts typically fall into an eight day cycle), this includes an active recovery/rest days. I don't structure this program on particular days of the week, because it's impossible with life interfering. My entire week is scheduled around my hardest day of the week, for me that is leg day. Leg day is the lightest cardio but most strength challenging day of the week. This is the day I try my hardest to push through barriers and work at my highest peak. Leg days also leave me in a pretty good world of hurt from muscle soreness. My typical week is designed below with a lot of room for change ups. Nothing is set in stone, I just try my best to get the following in for my week.
Day 1: Leg Day Zone 2-3
Day 2: Mix Day; Cardio and Strength Training Zone 3
Day 3: Active Recovery/Rest day Zone 1-2
Day 4: High Intensity Training Zone 4-5
Day 5: Long distance Endurance Training Zone 3
Day 6: High Intensity Training Zone 4-5
Day 7: Mix Day; Cardio and Strength Training Zone 3
Day 8: Active Recovery/Rest Zone 1-2
There is a lot more detail to bring to you about the training schedule above, but I can't squeeze it into today's post. Next week I'll explain to my personal preferences to my training program, and why I have structured the program the way that I have for myself.
Dr. MJ Wegmann,