One of the main (quite doubtful though) advantages of gym trainings is considered to be a persistence of trainer. He, they say, will pick you a program and control everything. But you can easily make up your program by yourself, and self-control is way better than imposed from outside. This could be argued: some people, saving themselves, will undertrain, when others (especially newbies in enthusiasm impulse) may overtrain, that is why it cannot be without trainer. It is true, but you should not put all the responsibility of your heath and development on a stranger. There is an objective indicator of how physical exercises influence the organism – it is pulse. We all know, that heartbeat under load (and therefore, pulse) quickens, so why don’t you use this universal self-control indicator (also in gym and home workouts). But first, let’s remember how to measure that pulse correctly.
A classic way considers measuring pulse of blood vessel walls of radial artery of pre-shoulder (photo 1). To do this, put right hands wrist with palm opened on left hands palm, so that lower hands straight thumb was on one line with upper ones pinky. In this case bent middle and ring fingers of lower hand will be exactly on radial artery (photo 2): you should feel light beating – this is pulse. When you learn to find the required point in this way, you can do it easier and faster with time, just by pressing the radial artery with other hands fingers from above (photo 3).
If for some reasons you cannot measure the pulse on pre-shoulder in the way, written above, try to find it out on the carotid (as it is done in most of movies and series). To do this, press your neck with straight index and middle fingers, when you’ve got sore throat during angina (photo 4): between the side neck muscles and breathing tube (trachea).
You can also feel the pulsation by pressing your fingers to the temporal bone or try to catch the heartbeat by just putting your palm on the left chest, a little bit lower than nipple.
When you have found the pulsation place with the way, comfortable for you, move on to heart rate measuring. Initially, it is recommended to make a full measuring (count all the beats during one minute), with time, you will only need 30 seconds (but don’t forget to multiply it by 2) and even 15 seconds (multiply by 4). When measuring pulse, do not concentrate on beats number, measure without excessive tension: though it is difficult, some people can slow down or speed up their heartbeat a little, that influences the results (especially if you measure only 15 seconds).
And finally, the main question: what the pulse during workout should be? The answer is in table. Knowing you age and having picked the required training effect level, you will see the edge heart rate on cross.
|Workout power||Age, y/o||Overtension dnger|
More than 200
|More than 188||More than 178||More than 170||
More than 163
|Caution for unprepared|
Less than 100
|Less than 100||Less than 100||Less than 100||
Less than 98
Notice: this numbers range should be considered in reverse order. For example, during submaximal work of 30-39 years old age, for 30 years old mans pulse may rise to 175, when 39 years old man should stop on 153, and so on. I gave the example of submaximal level not for nothing – exactly it is considered to be optimal from training effect point of view and from positions of undertraining and overtraining.
I hope, there is no need to explain, that this is a peak load, and you should reach it gradually. First measure your heart rate before the workout, do the warm-up and move to the main exercises of the program, periodically controlling the pulse (it is best to do between sets). If you have reached the edge rate – slow down a little, but don’t give yourself any indulgences, by lowering under the power levels. When finished the workout and made some stretch, measure the heart rate again – with increase the training level it should go back to the starting values (not longer than 10 minutes is perfect).
Also the “morning pulse”, measured after you wake up, in bed, might become your workout efficiency indicator. By fixing the values you got, you will notice, that with time your pulse is slowing down (aim on 60 beats per minute). If in the morning after the training your pulse is has increased – be careful, you are on overtraining’s edge. Analyse if there other symptoms of it and take the required steps: add one more rest day before the next training or do it in gentler mode.
That’s all. I hope, the information you get, will help you to increase your workouts efficiency, giving an objective indicator of their effectiveness. Oh yes, don’t forget to control you heart rate during the next workout.
Good book to read:
The Gold’s Gym Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding / Edward Connors, Michael J. B. McCormick, Peter Grymkowski, Tim Kimber. – McGraw-Hill, 1998. – 407 р.