Heart Rate Monitors To Measure Intensity

Yesterday,  I introduced Rachel Cosgrove, who shared with all of us the inspiration behind her DVD Program”Drop Two Dress Sizes”.

If you missed it then click here to jump back to Part 1.

Today, Certified Turbulence Trainer and the creator of Fat Loss Accelerator, Kate Vidulich spends some time chatting with Rachel about the metabolic training breakthroughs they have found while using heart rate monitors at her gym – Results Fitness.

To listen to the call click here


Kate: You guys have been doing lots of great experiments out there in California. What are some of the latest breakthroughs you’ve had with your metabolic training and have you seen any gender differences?

Rachel:  Recently, we’ve started using heart rate monitors a lot in our classes. We actually have a whole polar heart rate monitoring system where we see each client hooked up to a heart rate monitor that flashes up on a wall.

As a coach, I can see how hard everyone is working. Then we can really individualize the metabolic program.

They’ll work until they get into the red zone, which is basically 85% max and up, and then they recover until they’re in the green zone. They go back and forth. Everyone is an individual, so the better shape you’re in, the longer it’s going to take you the get to red and the faster you’re going to get to green. Whereas if this is your first class and you’re brand new and you’re just starting to work out, you’re probably going to get to red pretty fast and it’s going to take you a while to get back to green.

That way, each person is getting their own individualized workout. One thing we’ve recently found is that it truly is individualized. In the book and in my DVDs, I have fixed work and rest periods, but a way to take those to the next step would be to hook yourself up to a heart rate monitor and instead, work until you’re at 85% max heart rate or above, and then stop, instead of going by the fixed time.

Everyone is so different and it does need different work periods and different recovery periods. That’s really been a huge finding recently that we’ve been using a lot at our gym.

Kate: That’s cool. Is this within a group class that you’d have the heart rate monitors tapping in? How does that kind of interact if people are a bit behind or a bit ahead?

Rachel:  Yes, it’s in a group class. We basically set up a circuit. Say we have four exercises and this is the circuit of four exercises. The group splits up and so each person, say there are ten people and there are two people at each station, then everyone is going to go and some people are going to go longer than others.

Some people are going to keep going because they’re in better shape and it’s going to take them longer to get to red, where others are going to get to red fast and then they’re going to go ahead and stop while the others are still going. They’ll stop, they’ll rest, wait until they get to green, and they’ll go ahead and move to the next station.

It gets to be a little chaotic because you have some people moving ahead to the next station and other people are still working out. How we do that is we just have it on 20 second intervals, where the beeper goes every 20 seconds. You wait until it hits a beeper and then you either go or you stop, but you stick to, if you’re not ready to stop yet, then don’t stop. If you still need more recovery, recover until you’re green.

It really individualizes it but if you walked into one of the classes, you would say, “What is going on?” because it looks like chaos. It’s really very individualized and scientific and thought out.

Kate: As long as everyone knows where they’re going, it’s just organized chaos.

Rachel: Right. Exactly. The nice part is that the people who are just getting started either on my book or my DVDs, it’s okay if the first time around you can only do one set or you can’t do all of it. I think sometimes we compare ourselves to other people and try to keep up with other people and that’s where people end up not having a great workout, end up quitting.

Really, go at your own pace. The lesson is, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It’s your own workout, your own body. We all have different histories. We all have individual bodies so you have to work within what you have and really set the parameters for yourself.

Kate: That’s really cool. Obviously the interference is people’s heart rates. I know, having one of the older polar heart rate monitors, you stand near to someone else wearing a heart rate monitor. You can pick someone else’s heart rate. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen?

Rachel: No, it doesn’t. With our new system, it’s pretty cool. Everyone puts their name in and you can put up to 30 heart rates on the wall with their name, so you know whose, right underneath it is their heart rate. It turns a color, so like I said, when they get to a certain intensity it turns read. Then when their heart rate’s in recovery mode, it turns green.

The idea for anyone listening is that if you have a heart rate monitor, it’s a good way to get started. You can use the heart rate monitor just to start focusing. I think what a lot of people for a while were doing is not taking enough rest.

You think you want to keep moving. You think, “Well, I’m exercising and I set aside this half hour to work out so I better just keep my heart rate up and keep moving,” and the problem with that is that you’re not going to get an interval training response. What happens with interval training is you’re going to get an increase in your metabolism the next day or two, and that’s really going to be why we’re doing that.

You’re going to get an increased fat loss response.

If you don’t get that true interval, you don’t get the intensity high enough and you don’t get the recovery low enough, and instead you just do steady state, then you’re just doing an aerobic workout or a steady state workout and you could just go for a run. The problem with steady state workouts is your body will adapt pretty quickly and you’ll burn less and less calories and it becomes really ineffective pretty quickly.

Kate: Yes. Absolutely. That just hit the nail on the head, I think, when it comes to people making mistakes with their interval training. They train to really slow boring cardio, just a higher intensity version of it.

Rachel: Right.

Kate: That’s fantastic. Now, obviously no one can be cheating in these classes. If you can see their heart rates, you can definitely kick them out.

Rachel:  Yes. They’re tough. That’s the hard part about it. You’ve got to be ready to work because I can see right there what your heart’s doing.

Kate: Does it also track people’s progress? Does it give a printout? I guess as a trainer if we had some way of seeing, “Oh, look, your first session, you couldn’t do anything and now you’re really kicking some butt.” Does it track progress?

Rachel: Yes, it does keep track. It stores everything in the system. What it does is each workout, we get a graph of the workout so we can see the interval where their heart rate was here, then it was there. You can see how many intervals they got in for the workout.

That gets emailed to them. That’s part of the polar monitor system.

Kate: Cool. That sounds fun. I want to come try it.

Ok, well have to end for today. Please join us tomorrow for more with Rachel where she will run us through  of a typical training session.

Keep Rock’n

Kate Vidulich
Certified Turbulence Trainer