Weight and Resistance Training - Is my heart rate dangerous??

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12-30-2011, 02:30 PM
I got a brand new 25 pound kettlebell for Christmas, and so far I love the thing.

I bop along happily to my kettlebell workouts and am drenched in sweat after five minutes. Since I'm a beginner, I usually break my long (and I love how I think 20 minutes is "long") workout into two ten minute sessions because it is so intense.

I would think it's the greatest thing ever, but for one thing. I also got a new heart rate monitor for Christmas. When I do my kettlebell workouts, my heart rate gets up to an average of 175-180 beats per minute for the whole workout, and peaks between 191 and 197. I'm 22, so my theoretical max (220 minus my age) should be around 198. Am I two beats per minute away from a heart attack?? Lol, I ask that mostly as a joke, but I really am starting to get concerned I might be damaging my heart or exercising in a dangerous zone.

Before getting the kettlebell or the heart rate monitor, I used to do HIIT interval sprints. As a means of comparison, I wore my monitor on a sprint workout yesterday to see if maybe it was just the kettlebell pushing me to such high limits. My average for 20 minutes of interval sprints (a pretty typical workout for me) was 170ish and my peak was 191. A little lower, but almost the same. Which means I have been exercising at this intensity for months and never even realizing it.

Now, I'm no glutton for pain - it's not like I'm pushing through pain, lightheadedness, nausea, or anything else I would think would be associated with pushing to your max heart rate. I just go to the point where I feel like I'm working hard, my muscles are burning, and I feel like I've had an intense workout. I don't do it everyday, of course, maybe two to four times per week depending on how I feel. Lighter stuff on the off days, and some weight training.

I really know nothing about what various heart rates mean, other than it's usually a sign of good cardiovascular health if your resting heart rate is low. Right after I wake up, when they say it's best to measure resting heart rate, mine is right around 60 beats per minute, sometimes a little more or less. I believe that's in the normal range.

Most places on the internet recommend exercising at about 80-85% of your max for interval training. I tried that for a couple of workouts but I just didn't feel "worked out." I felt like going for another jog afterward just because I hadn't done enough.

I guess I have several questions, and lots of input is welcome.

1) Am I putting myself at risk by pushing my heart rate this high?

2) What are the health consequences if I keep doing this (because I have apparently been doing it for months without realizing it)?

3) Does it mean I'm in terrible shape if my heart rate gets this high during exercise? I don't feel like I'm in terrible shape, but I guess I don't feel like I'm in fantastic shape either. Lol, I've done Insanity in the past, but I can only do ten minutes of kettlebell at a time, so I can't be that great. I guess I ask because of the general notion that lower resting heart rate is better, and I didn't know if that correlated with exercising heart rate.

Thanks all. I'm totally ignorant about this, and Googling it has just served to make me more confused, so feel free to explain the basics to me. :)

12-31-2011, 10:27 AM
If you're not seeing stars, feeling faint or dizzy I would say you're fine...

Keep on, keeping on :tread:

12-31-2011, 10:42 AM
Agree with Kara and Ilene. I used to have to get up near my max to feel "worked out," like you said, and my HR stills get really high when I jog. You are right on to pay attention to the things you mentioned--dizzy, light, nauseous, or if you feel like you can't catch your breath.

Interestingly, as I've gotten in better shape, I have noticed that my resting HR has gone down maybe 10 BPM, but it still gets close to "max" at the peak of a workout.

Keep up the great work! :)

12-31-2011, 10:55 AM
I have a relative who has an artificial valve so she has to watch her heart rate carefully. So she and I have done a ton of research - if you have no existing heart issues, there is absolutely no danger in your heart rate climbing sky high. It won't cause a heart attack and it won't injure your heart long term. If you don't feel faint or like you're going to vomit, you're doing fine.

01-03-2012, 04:09 PM
Just going on to agree with ours that your perceived exertion is a better measure. I can't get my heart up that high or I'll feel like I'll keel over. For me my max seems to be bout 163 beforee I start to feel like I can't continue any longer. I am working hard and can talk though in a breathless manner around 145-155. I don't feel like I'm doing anything if it is under 130.

Before I started exercising, my resting heart rate was 85. It's now about 57. A sign of a good response from your heart is high fast it can come down after exertion. If it doesn't come down quickly, you might have a problem.

01-05-2012, 11:08 AM
Okay, thanks so much for your input guys. It's good to know I'm not going to spontaneously die during a workout, lol.

I will have to pay more attention to my recovery time. Just out of curiosity, how fast should the recovery be for someone to be considered in pretty good shape?

01-05-2012, 11:23 AM
You can google heart rate covert, but here is something that explains it well: