Thursday, 29 March 2012

Heart Rate Training Zones - Time to get specific

The Aerobic Zone (maximum heart rate)

60-65% MHR- Helps develop economy and efficiency of cardiovascular system (the organs and tissues involved in circulating blood and lymph through the body) with very high volume, low stress work. Very long sessions are needed to improve the combustion and storage of fats.
65-75% MHR- Helps develop economy and efficiency of cardiovascular system with high volume, moderate stress work; an important intensity for establishing a firm cardiovascular base for most athletes.
75-80% MHR- Helps with development of aerobic capacity (the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during a specified period, usually during intense exercise) and endurance with moderate volume work at a controlled moderate/challenging intensity.
Summary- Training within the aerobic zone will help develop your cardiovascular system and aerobic capacity. The 60-70% MHR zone should only be used on recovery days (recovery days incorporate a low intensity very long session useful during intense training regimes.) The majority of sessions completed should keep heart rate at between 70-80% MHR and last between 30 to 90 minutes. If new to exercise or training to reduce blood pressure/weight then regular 30 minute sessions at this intensity is essential.

The Anaerobic Zone

80-90% MHR- Helps develop the LT (lactic acid threshold: the exercise intensity at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood stream) and the AT (anaerobic threshold: the point that lactate is produced faster than it can be metabolized) with low/moderate volume, challenging/high intensity work.
90-100% MHR- High intensity interval training which helps to increase maximum power and improve LT/AT this is achieved with low volume high intensity work. Should only be performed when completely recovered from previous work although 90-100% MHR is indicated heart rates are not the best way to gauge this level on intensity and a guide would be to increase intensity until work can be held just until the end of the interval.
Summary- Training within the anaerobic zone will help develop your LT and AT. The majority of sessions completed should keep heart rate at between 80-100% MHR. If new to exercise/training regular work within the aerobic zone should be completed before incorporating this sort of training. Session may last between 10-35 minutes.

Calculating your MHR: There are many formulae for calculating you MHR with the simplest being 220 – your age. This is not a good way to provide an accurate measurement however can be used to provide a simple very rough estimate. I would recommend using the karvonen formulae.

My 75%-80% MHR zone (using 220 – age method) = 148 - 158
My 75%-80% MHR zone (using Karvonen method) = 165 – 171
This example highlights how if relying on 220-age I could be working at 20 beats lower then my actual zone targets.

Factors causing Heart rate variations: Dehydration can increase heart rate by 7.5%, Heat and humidity can increase heart rate by 7.5%, Altitude can increase heart rate by 10-20% even when acclimatised and
Biological variation can mean the heart rate varies day to day by 2-4 BPM (beats per minute).

For more help/motivation with working out your own heart rate traiing zones please speak to or email

Daniel Byrne:

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Do we get fatter as we get older?

It is difficult to deny that as the years roll by, it's not as easy to stay as lean as when we were younger. As we get older, certain hormones decrease, making it harder to maintain muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass equals a lower metabolism and this will affect how many calories we burn when resting. It's very easy to blame age as the main reason for gaining weight. However, it may not be as simple as that when we look closely at how our lifestyle changes through the years.

I was thinking about this last week, when I realised how little walking I do. This led to me thinking about all the other general activity I used to do compared to now. I still exercise most days at a specific time. But the exercise I used to do on top of my sport or training was so much higher. I remember a day at the age of about 16 years old:

  • Walk to the station  - 2-3miles
  • Catch the train to school - walk half a mile to school
  • General walking around school inbetweeen lessons
  • School football match in the afternoon (90 minutes)
  • Get the train to work after school - walk half a mile to station and then half a mile to work, once off the train
  • Worked in a large warehouse for 4 hours, lots of heavy lifting, wrapping pallets, walking etc
  • Walked to the sports centre - 2 miles
  • Played 5-a-side football for an hour!

This day started at about 7am and finished at 11am. I was probably running on bread, crisps, chocolate and a homemade dinner at night. Not great nutrition, but the calories I burned compared to the calories I consumed left a massive gap. Hence me being pretty skinny! I must have walked about 8 miles on that day.

The above day wasn't a regular occurence, but at the time I didn't think much of it. I walked everywhere, played lots of sport, started hitting the gym, worked, etc. I didnt even class walking as exercise then! It just got me to where I needed to go! Nowadays, we seem to take the car everywhere. I often wonder how much leaner we would be if for 6 months we ditched all cars!

As we get older, more often than not we get more responsibility at work. This often leads to us giving more orders than taking them. A prime example was working in the warehouse, when I worked part time for a courier company. This was temporary whilst studying, but people would soon move from the warehouse to supervisor. From supervisor to the office. And from the office to a management role. Lots of lifting and moving would eventually turn into picking up the phone and sending emails.

If you feel you move less and less, the next step is to find ways to build activity into your lifestyle again. This can be the case for yourself and your kids. Lots of kids are active. Others spend their life living through social media sites. This is sad, because there will be a lot of time for computers when they are older. They should be enjoying the freedom of life and getting outside as much as possible.

For the rest of us, lets simply add more walking into our day. Walk as often as you can. Get off the tube one stop early, walk to work, walk to school, walk to the local shops instead of the supermarket and carry the bags home, etc. Saying to somebody, "try and do an hours walking a day" seems like a lot to build into a busy schedule. 4 blocks of 15 minutes however, doesn't.

If you are struggling with your weight, take a serious look at your lifestyle. When do you move and how often for?

Why not see one of our instructors for a lifestle consultation!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

High Protein Quiche!

I am always looking to make protein and cottage cheese especially, more exciting. This low fat, high protien quiche definately did that.

Here is what I did:

  • Mix up 2-3 tubs (1 tub = 250g) of cottage cheese and 5-6 eggs in a bowl
  • Fry off any veggies of your choice. I used onion, garlic, red pepper and mushrooms, I also added some cooked and diced ham chunks. Once all these are cooked, add to the mix.
  • Place the mix into a baking dish. I grated a small amount of cheddar on top and placed some chopped tomatoes on this.
  • Bake at 180 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
  • I then let it stand and put it in the fridge over night.

I had it the next morning and in the evening with salad. There were plenty of portions for the week. Eating healthy often means planning ahead. Cooking good meals ahead of schedule is one of the best ways to meet your training goals.