November 17, 2011

depoetayloco asked: heart rate monitors: cost a pretty penny. i don't have very many pretty pennies. is there a more inexpensive (and simultaneously accurate) way to calculate calories burned?

Good question.  The only alternative that immediately came to me when I read this is your mind.  You’re probably thinking, “Huh? My mind?”.  That’s right, your mind.  Fortunately for me, the University of Pittsburgh has one of the leading researchers on this topic in the nation.  Robert J. Robertson has spent most his career as an exercise scientists studying ratings of perceived exertion.  In simple terms, this is a rating of how much effort you mentally feel you are exerting during exercise.  I know this seems all psychological, and it is, but it has been shown in many articles that it directly correlates to heart rate.  The more a person is experienced at running, the better a person can accurately predict their heart rate.  The ratings usually come from a Borg Scale, such as the one described in this article.  All it takes is using your mind, and that’s always free (financially speaking).

All the best,


October 7, 2011
Heart Rate Prescription Question

I received a question about heart rate prescription and how to use it to benefit runners.  Basically, how does heart rate work when prescribing exercise?

Let’s go into exercise prescription 101 (and this is perfect because this is something you can use in yourself to set your HR zone, very practical).

The method I use is heart rate reserve, aka the Karvonen method which can be done in three easy steps:

  1.  Subtract resting HR from maximal HR to obtain the heart rate reserve (HRR)
  2. Take 60-80% of the HRR
  3. Add each HRR value to resting HR to obtain the target heart rate range

For instance, the person that asked me the question is 21 years old and I do not know her maximal HR but I can estimate it using a crude equation (which I hate) of 220-age.  Therefore her maximal HR is 199 beats per min (bpm). Now on to the example with three simple steps:

  1. Assuming her resting HR is around 60 bpm and her maximal is 199 bpm, her HRR is 139.
  2. 60% x 139 bpm = 83 bpm and 80% x 139 bpm = 111 bpm
  3. 83 bpm + 60 bpm = 143 bpm and 111 bpm + 60 bpm = 171 bpm.  Therefore, her target heart rate zone is 143 bpm to 172 bpm.

This is why purchasing a heart rate monitor is a great investment for those interested in running.  If you need some help with this don’t hesitate to message me on here.