Why monitor your heart rate whilst training?

Training with your heart rate

Do you measure your heart rate whilst training? If not, you could be missing out on working out at your most effective and efficient intensity to maximise your potential, and reach your goals faster!

Your heart rate is the measure of how hard your heart is working under workload/stress. With this value being displayed in Beats Per Minute (BPM).

As you start to exercise your heart rate increases, which increases your stroke volume (the volume of blood pumped from one ventricle of the heart within one beat). With this increase in stroke volume, more oxygenated blood is able to be transported around the body. This is due to the increased demand for oxygen, i.e. as the exercise intensity increases so does the need for more energy.

Exercise intensity is usually prescribed as a percentage of your maximum heart rate. The most common and basic calculation of your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. An example for a 40 year old would be: 220-40=180, so 180 BPM would be their maximum heart rate.

By monitoring your heart rate, it allows you to see whether you are working at the correct intensity for your desired training purpose.

Fat Metabolism

If you are looking to solely burn and metabolise fat, a lower training intensity/ heart rate is needed to allow you to have oxygen available to metabolise fat into readily available energy (ATP) to be used for exercise. This conversion of fat into energy is not very efficient for the body, and as soon as the exercise intensity increases, the body soon turns to carbohydrates as its primary energy source.

If you are looking to burn fat as your main energy source evidence supports that you should not surpass 50% of your maximum heart rate.

Cardiovascular Fitness

If maximising your fitness potential and boosting your cardiovascular fitness is your training aim, than an intensity level of at least 55% of your maximum heart rate is required, up until a top end of 95% maximum heart rate.

By monitoring and logging your average heart rate as you work out, it can be a good indicator as to whether your cardiovascular fitness is improving. There are a few ways that monitoring your heart rate can be utilised. Firstly if you like to run at a set pace over a set time/ distance, as you get fitter your average heart rate should become lower. You may also find that your average heart rate may stay the same however, you are able to run further/ faster in a set amount of time.

V02 Max Testing

Now you may be thinking to yourself that the calculation for your maximum heart rate seems a bit general, and you would be correct... However through having specific cardiovascular fitness testing you are able to find out your true max heart rate, along with personalised heart rate training zones.

Wellness International Ltd. at the Reebok Sports Club does offer advanced exercise stress testing, known as V02 Max Testing or Metabolic Profiling.

This assessment will measure your heart rate accurately through a 12 lead electrocardiogram, while pushing you to your maximum on a treadmill or wattbike. The electrocardiogram also allows the sports technician to see your hearts electrical rhythm, ensuring you have no abnormalities appearing when your heart is under stress.

During the assessment you will also be hooked up to a mouthpiece providing the sports technician with gas analysis, measuring the oxygen intake and carbon dioxide production throughout the test.

By accurately measuring all these variables throughout the test, it will allow the sports technician to measure your current fitness level (V02 Max), lactate threshold, and provide you with the most efficient, effective and safe training heart rate zones which are personalised to you and you only.

For more information please feel free to speak to one of the Healthcare Advisors at the Wellness Centre, or contact us on Tel: 0207 970 1280  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About the Author
Graham Adams
Author: Graham Adams

Graham is one of Wellness International Ltd.’s Health Care Advisor and Performance Specialists. Graham provides health and wellbeing services to our public and corporate clients and has designed protocols based around VO2max testing and lactate threshold both on the treadmill and Wattbike. Graham is a keen health and fitness enthusiast; he enjoys football and weight lifting.

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