Friday, July 10, 2015

Threshold Heart Rate – Part 1

While working on my USA Triathlon Level 1 Coaching Certification last year, I was fortunate to have Jesse Kropelnicki, USA Triathlon Level 3 Coach,  founder and head coach of QT2 Systems conduct much of our training sessions. His experience, knowledge and approach to endurance training opened my eyes to improved methods for improving athletic performance.
One of the cornerstones of Jesse’s philosophy and QT2 Systems training protocols for endurance training is using threshold heart rate and associated heart rate zones as the basis for developing fitness and endurance that lead to peak performance in endurance events.
Heart rate training is the key to effectively improving your athletic performance, especially for endurance athletes.  The concept is simple; determine various heart zones based on your threshold heart rate. Each zone serves a different training purpose. Zone R – Recovery Zone is a low heart rate to aid in recovery workouts. Zone 1 builds your aerobic base – giving you’re the endurance to run, bike or swim long distances. Zone 2 and Zone 3 push the heart rate higher which builds your anaerobic base and helps build your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. This also trains the heart to be more effective and efficient, allowing you to put forth more effort and speed over a longer period of time.
Before you can determine your heart rate training zones, you must establish your threshold heart rate. “I've seen many, many tests to determine heart rate associated with anaerobic threshold (TH); anything from blood lactate tests, to metabolic testing, or as simple as 220 minus your age with some other factors,” states Kropelnicki.  While there are various methods that can be used to establish a heart rate training protocol, I have found that Jesse’s formula has been extremely successful for world class athletes and has been extremely effective in driving my fitness and performance.

I will explain what Jesse and QT2 Systems see as the easiest most efficient way to determine threshold heart rate for those athletes that may not want to have more complex testing carried out. Kropelnicki explains, “What this procedure does is cross check your heart rate zones with a few methods to give you a fairly confident value that you can then base your heart rate zones on for training. I think some folks get a bit careless determining this value which results in hours and hours of training time spent developing an energy system that you may not want to be developing!”

“These methods only give a single data point on a curve which happens to be the most important point to have, however some of the other more sophisticated methods provide the full curve and therefore also allow you to evaluation physiological specifics and target those areas within an athlete’s training program,” states Kropelnicki.

Next week I will outline the process Kropelnicki uses to find the Anaerobic Threshold heart rate (TH) that will determine the various heart rate training zones you will use in your workouts.

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  He is a member of the 2015 QT2 Systems Advanced Team.

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