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.