Determining Training Load

determining-training-load-cardio-fitness-educationIn the past, a crucial piece of data was missing in cardiovascular training. Before the b of heart rate monitors and the data they provide, teachers were unable to determine accurately the  intensity of students’ exercise; this  left them with  only  two  components, frequency and time, from which to determine students’ total training  load. We know, however, that a determination of total training load  requires data on frequency, intensity, and  time (FIT).

  • Frequency is how often  you exercise.
  • Intensity is how hard you exercise, or in which heart zone  you are exercising.
  • Time is how long you exercise.

Intensity was  previously measured through perceived exertion, or  how  hard people believed they  were  exercising—which was  really just  a guess. Now we have  an accurate measuring instrument for intensity: the  heart rate monitor.

Students need to understand that all heart rate data are relative, not absolute. Relative, in this case, means that any given heart rate reading has no meaning unless it is compared with absolute heart rate. Relative heart rate measurements are most valuable when  expressed as a percentage of maximal  heart rate (MHR), or the  maximal number of times your  heart can beat in one minute. Knowing that a student’s current heart rate is 60 percent of her MHR (a relative number), for example, is much more useful  than a straight heart rate measure of 150 bpm,  which is an absolute number. By using relative rather than absolute measures, students can assemble a body  of personal heart rate data. This body  of data enables them to determine their own hearts’ response to certain quantities and  types of exercise, from which they can develop individualized heart zones training plans. Preliminary assessments include the  following:

  • Ambient heart rate
  • Delta heart rate
  • Resting heart rate
  • Recovery heart rate
  • Maximal heart rate

Each of these measurements is unique, and some identify fitness improvement. Students can compare their results with those of prior assessments to determine whether their current training quantity is sufficient to help  them reach their health and  fitness goals.  Other measurements, such as recovery heart rate, are  repeated periodically and  consistently to help students identify changes in their metabolic responses to cardiovascular fitness training.

The  frequency at  which each of these tests should be  performed varies widely.  Some assessments are  a good  indicator of responses to  various kinds  of stress and  should be performed daily.  For example, some instructors have  their students record ambient and delta heart rate readings every time  they  use  a monitor. Not only is this  great practice for using the monitor, but it also gives students an opportunity to identify and analyze personal changes in their readings. Indeed, many students are surprised at their bodies’ response to stress, such as lack of sleep or an argument with a friend (i.e., a prolonged elevated ambient heart rate). Teaching students to measure and  analyze changes in heart rate raises their awareness about their bodies and the internal changes brought on by emotional, physical, mental, and  social stress.

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