ON HEART ZONE TRAINING
“It is only with the heart that one can
see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Hearts... Poets muse over them, scientists study
them, physicians operate on them, and the pharmaceutical industry profits by them. But Sally Edwards . . . well, she
We train our pets, we train to become better musicians,
writers, athletes, so why not train the heart? After all, it’s the most important organ and muscle in the body. A well-trained heart may add years
one’s life, and definitely would
add a more active and satisfying life to those years.
- The heart is a muscle the size of a fist, and
like any muscle can be made stronger.
- It starts beating four weeks after conception,
and doesn’t stop until death.
- It beats about 100,000 times a day, sending 2000 gallons of blood through
60,000 miles of branching blood vessels.
- Women have smaller hearts than men, and exhibit
than men for a potential heart
- Laughter is good for the heart.
- Sex is also good for the heart.
- People are more apt to have
heart attacks on Monday morning, due to stress, than any other day.
- The phrase Broken Heart Syndrome, also called
stress-induced cardiomyopathy, occurs more often in women than men.
- In Eastern philosophy, the heart chakra is associated with love, compassion, charity to others, and psychic healing.
Heart Zone Training
In the fall of 2013, I attended a Heart Zone
Training Certification workshop lead by Sally Edwards. My goal was, and is, to
become a fitness instructor, catering to the Boomer generation. So, Heart Zone
Training Certification, CHZT, needed to be at the top of my skill sets.
Sally Edwards, creator of the Heart Zones Training
System, knows a bit about training, and training the heart. From the time she ran the
1984 Olympic Marathon Trials using her heart rate monitor, Sally has been at
the forefront of a revolution in fitness training. The author of more than
twenty books, with a Master’s degree in exercise physiology, her background in
multi-sport competition is extensive.
Ms. Edwards has completed more than 150 races and 16 Ironman Triathalons. She is a former holder of the
master’s world record in the Ironman, and the national spokesperson for the Danskin series of women-only sprint
triathlons. She has won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the 100-mile
Iditashoe Snowshoe Race, The Race Across America Relay division, and numerous
The Heart Zone workshop, held in Claremont, California, included: learning
Heart Zone terms,
and the importance of training the heart; how to administer sub maximum or threshold heart rate tests; how to administer cardiovascular programs, and how to use a heart rate monitor. The workshop, a combination of
lecture and hands-on work in the gym, used indoor bikes and step-up equipment
to determine maximum heart rates and zones.
Everyone has a maximum heart rate, HRmax, that point at which the heart can beat no faster. Most of us of have heard that the classic “220 minus age” formula,
for men, or “226 minus age,” for women determines theoretical maximum heart
rate. According to Edwards, though, this formula is not based on any scientific
evidence, and the number may be misleading.
“This maximum differs from person to person”,
states Edwards. She has developed five zones, in chart form, showing areas of
heart rate exertion. These are the upper and lower limits of heart rate
intensity. The top two zones are referred to as Red Line and Threshhold, where calories are burnt for energy. The lower three zones: Aerobic, Temperate and Healthy Heart, are
For example, if one’s maximum heart rate is 160, and working in the Healthy Heart zone, the heart
should beat at 80-96 beats per minute, 50-60% of maximum. Wearing a heart rate
monitor, an individual can monitor his/her heart rate and choose which zone to
After a day of working out, and taking notes, it
was time for the long drive back to San Diego; time to reflect.
Since taking the workshop, I’ve spent many days
experimenting with my heart rate monitor. At the gym, on long walks, snowshoeing, and skiing. If I’m not wearing
a monitor, I might stop in the
middle of an activity, find my pulse,
look at my watch for sixty seconds, to check of my
At the gym, I’ve settled into doing “Healthy
Zone” and “Aerobic zone”
exercise sessions three times a week for about 45 minutes each session. These
zones offer the maximum overall fitness benefits, while limiting the exposure
to injury that higher zones pose. The other days of the week might be dedicated to
less intense exercise, like swimming,
walking, weight lifting.
After about three months of Heart Zone training I have noticed more energy, and a greater endurance when it
comes to specific
activities like skiing, cycling and working around the house. I have also noticed that certain
exercise equipment at the gym will put me in the higher zones faster than other equipment. For example, the elliptical machine,
using both the upper and lower body, will move me into the “Aerobic Zone”
faster than the stationary bike or the treadmill.
Heart training is an important tool for those
optimizing their health. If this
information resonates with you, go to www.heartzones.com, do some research, perhaps purchase a book or two on the subject and,
start enjoying the benefits of Heart Zone training.
(Writer’s note: Before embarking on any exercise
with your doctor)
Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail
2014 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved