Exercise! - Heart Rate Questions

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05-05-2007, 06:11 PM
Hi all,

Iíve been using my new HRM for my last 4 workouts and I have a couple of questions about it. My main issue is that Iíve discovered that I do most of my cardio in the ďHard IntensityĒ (80%-90%) rangeóin my case, above 152. I drop below that every 5 minutes or so for one minute to catch my breath, and then Iím back up close to or above 160. If I drop into the 140s, I feel like Iím pretty much slacking off. Is this a problem? Should I be working out with less intensity and basically strolling on the treadmill or elliptical??? What Iíve read suggests that in the light intensity range, the majority of calories burned are from fat, and that in the moderate intensity range, most are from carbs. Iíve never paid this any attention before, because I just want to burn as many calories as possible. But I canít seem to find out what kind of calories are burned in the hard intensity range and Iím afraid Iím burning muscle rather than carb or fat calories. Do you experts have any wisdom on this? I feel greatóhealthy and fit and strongóbut I am trying to build muscle, not burn it all up doing cardio.


05-06-2007, 07:05 AM
Hi Baffled! I love my HRM too! Don't worry, you're not going to burn muscle when you do moderate or high intensity cardio. :) You're right, all that matters is burning calories. Check out these threads for my rants about so-called 'fat burning zones': cardio versus fat burn? (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=103485) and Question: Burning calories VS. Burning fat (http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=109501)

You know that the max HR's on the heart rate monitors are just averages, right? And the more conditioned your cardiovascular system is, the higher you can go, which is probably why you can work out at such a high intensity for so long. When I'm doing intervals, my peak HR typically is 95-100% of max but it's OK because I'm pretty advanced -- and my heart hasn't blown up yet. :lol:

Have fun with your new toy! Have you tried wearing it when you're lifting weights too? It's really instructive to see how high your HR can go with weightlifting as well as traditional cardio. As a matter of fact, the highest HR I've ever recorded was when I was doing a set of squats. So now I know I'm burning calories the whole time I'm at the gym. :carrot:

05-06-2007, 02:07 PM
Hi Meg,

Thanks! I'm glad to hear that. I want to burn max calories and I also want to feel as though I'm really working at the gym.

I have been wearing it while I lift! I do my cardio first and then I do my lifting. I like to track the calories burned while I'm lifting--it helps me to realize that lifting weights isn't a waste of time :) (Although I am starting to feel results, after getting a bit more serious about my program.) Nutridiary seems to seriously underestimate calories burned during light/moderate lifting.

My heart rate really goes up when I'm doing compound upper body exercises. I'm sure the same would be true doing squats, too. I've felt my heart rate increase just doing a few sets of those things at home while watching tv. I'm not doing squats at the moment because I've come perilously close to blowing a knee. Currently I'm doing the seated quad and hammy exercises and building up to squats--I'm going to give it a month before I try again. I'm *petrified* of blowing out a knee.

As an aside--I think it was you I was talking to about online body fat calculators in the support forum--I've scheduled an appointment at the Y to have my body fat tested. Eeeek! Slightly scary, but I'm looking for non-scale motivators to keep me going to the gym after I've lost the weight I want to lose. Body fat seems a nice kind of NSV.

Thanks again.

05-06-2007, 02:09 PM
I'll think you'll be very pleased with your BF% - be sure to come back and share! :)

Renny Sue
05-07-2007, 08:57 AM
baffled, hope you don't mind me asking this question here!

I just got a HR monitor too, but I can't tell if its working properly. The watch thingy says 90 BPM but the flash on the screen (all the machines at my gym pick it up) are closer to 140-150 BMP! I'm huffing and puffing, so I'm more inclined to believe the machine, but where exactly do I put it to get the optimum read?

05-07-2007, 09:03 AM
That's weird! Mine are always synced up. The machine should be reading right from your chestband, just like the watch. Could you be picking up someone else? If your HR monitor isn't 'coded', it can read someone else's who is close to you.

Otherwise, could the watch part be defective? Maybe return the whole thing and get a new one?

05-07-2007, 09:07 AM
Baffled, I was in the gym doing cardio this morning and thinking about what you said about compound exercises. :) They are such an efficient way to work out because they hit everything! So today - in your honor - I'm going to do a whole body workout consisting of only compound exercises. I'm going to do three sets each of deadlifts, BB squats, bench press, pullups and pushups. How does that sound?? :D

Renny Sue
05-07-2007, 10:42 AM
Hmmm I didn't think about the coding. I might double check that and see how I go toomorrow.

05-07-2007, 03:02 PM
I think that sounds excellent, Mel :) Today is my arm and shoulder day. I've just learned to do pec flys with that resistance-free-weight-stand-thingy, and I picked up some new tricep exercises, so I think I'm going to do those, along with some curls and lat pulldowns. I've been reading what Krista has to say about the Shoulder Overhead Press and I might try that too. New exercises are exciting! Whenever I've tried to start weight training in the past, I wind up doing the same 4 exercises over and over and it gets very boring very quickly. I like that variety is *more* effective than no variety :)

Renny, it sounds to me that your watch is not working properly. I'd send it back and get a new one. Mine always syncs up perfectly with the machine, and if I'm huffing and puffing, my heart rate is over 150.

05-07-2007, 06:06 PM
I like variety too! (and I'm Meg, but that's OK, everyone mixes Mel and me up :lol:) I make a point never to do the same exercises twice in a row for a muscle group's workout - I'll always switch up the exercises or the equipment or something! You're right, it's a lot more interesting and you get better results. :D

A fun thing to do is to make your own little exercise library. For example, list all the triceps exercises you know how to do and then break them down by equipment, like machine, DBs, BB, resistance band etc. If you ever feel like you're getting stale, you can just go back to your library and pull out some new exercises.

Right now I'm tracking down a triceps exercise called a California press, which supposedly combines skull crushers with close grip press, all in one. I'm trying to find a video so I can be sure what I'm doing. It makes it fun to go to the gym when there's new stuff to try!

05-07-2007, 06:14 PM
Ooops! Sorry Meg! You've been so helpful--the least I can do is get your name right! :)

I did my pec flys today with the funny free weight machine, and those new tricep exercises. I have the weakest pecs in all the land!!! And I always feel like a doofus trying out exercises when I'm not sure what I'm doing. However, there were some young bucks in the gym today, and I think they were quite impressed with my pec performance and general mastery of the weights corner. On the other hand, they couldn't see that I was only doing 10lb of resistance on each side ;)

05-07-2007, 06:18 PM
Are the free weight machines Free Motion? I've only tried those once but really liked them. I'd love a chance to try them again. And good for you for venturing into Free Weight Land! :D

05-07-2007, 06:42 PM
The machine is quite elaborate, and I'm not sure what it is called. It looks a bit like this: http://www.paramountfitness.com/products/functional_training/pft200/_about_pft200.shtm
Only bigger and scarier. I've been using it for triceps but haven't liked it much. It's nice for the pec flys because it is more guided than a regular pec fly (at which I'm not very good--uncoordinated + weak = very wobbly) but way less guided than the nautilus pec machine. It's a monster piece of equipment though. Half-way between a machine and free-weights. Nice for beginners (although I have seen giant muscley men using it too.)

05-07-2007, 06:48 PM
Bigger and scarier. :rofl: Nonsense! You march right in there with all those muscley men and show them how we can lift and never chip a nail!

05-07-2007, 07:15 PM
Meg - I thought maybe that I knew what you were talking about with the California Press from my Power Class but I found a link and nope! Not quite. We sometimes just do combinations of the skull crusher and a tricep press. But it's really going back and forth between the two. Not quite what you're talking about.

Was this it? And did you try it? http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/exercise3/californiapress.htm

05-07-2007, 07:18 PM
That's it! Woo hoo - that's exactly what I wanted an no, I haven't tried it yet. But I will this week! :strong:

Thanks for finding that! :hug: :hug:

(now why do they always show hunkaroos in those demos? don't you think one of us would be a good model? :lol: )

Renny Sue
05-08-2007, 10:07 AM
It seems to be picking up other people's heart rates. But my watch is still far too low. I'm huffing, puffing and sweating and its saying 90 BPM! At one point it was saying 200 BMP!

I'm putting it right under my left breast, is that the right place for it to go?

05-08-2007, 10:24 AM
90 BPM really sounds way too low!

I'm not sure what are you putting under your left breast - the chest strap? I have a Polar HRM which comes with a strap that fits around my chest right where my bra band goes. There's a plastic piece that's supposed to be centered right in the middle of my chest. I'm not sure what brand you have? Did it come with intructions?

If that's not it, I think it has to be defective.