Our heart, the king

Heart beat used to be measured by palpitation, a technique which, while still practical, is not entirely reliable. Therefore buying an electronic heartbeat monitoring device will prove a good investment; this handy device is pivotal to good training exercise.

Basic information needed in training practice is maximum heart frequency; this represents a number of heart beats per minute which should not be exceeded.

Maximum heart frequency is easiest calculated by subtracting your age from the number 220. If, for instance, you’re 40 years old, your max. heart frequency is 180. However, people are different, which means this simple calculation does not fit each and every person alike. One thing is true, though: with age, maximum heart frequency is getting lower and the same goes for heart rate.

Establishing one’s maximum heart frequency is paramount for finding an ideal workout pace – that is, in recreational sports; professional athletes have special rules to observe.

With the maximum heart frequency in mind, we can divide the exercise program into five different zones for maximum benefit (the Carvonen method):

Low intensity up to 50% of maximum heart frequency
Medium intensity up to 75% of maximum heart frequency
Higher intensity up to 90% of maximum heart frequency
High intensity up to 96% of maximum heart frequency
Maximum intensity up to 100% of maximum heart frequency


Let your heart guide you

Heart beat is a good indication of your health status; listen to your heart – using a heart beat monitor.

It is important to point out certain important facts about the heart rate or rather, what the specific heart rate (during exercise or when resting) indicates. The following will certainly be of great help in understanding one’s body and well being – provided you pay your heart rate some basic attention.

The following chart represents possible combinations of factors:

heart beat
high during exercise
good shape (take sufficient rest)
high during exercise
possibly coming down with an illness (stop exercising for some time)
high when resting (up to 20% over normal)
overdoing exercise
higher when resting
very bad
possibly coming down with an illness
slightly higher in the morning
low during exercise
extreme fatigue, over-exercising
low when resting
good shape


Electronic heart rate monitors usually have an option of computing average heart rate during a period of time, for instance during a limited period of exercise. If your repeat this specific exercise several times, you can keep notes about the time spent and heart rate values; these notes can be interpreted:


average heart rate
lower than usual
very good shape
very good
well rested
very bad
possible indication of an illness


Printing this page and keeping it in your exercise diary is not a bad idea – this way it will always be handy when you keep track of how much kilometres you’ve covered in specific amounts of time and how you felt during exercise.

With permission of Gorazd Penko, the author of the manual “Man and his bike”.