Friday, March 21, 2014

Polar Watch and Training Zones

I, like many people, am motivated and fufilled in many areas of my life by seeing results. Whether it's trying out a new recipe and tasting how delicious and yummy it turned out, or hearing my daughter count from 1 to 5 all on her own from all those bath nights of practicing with her. With fitness, results seems to take awhile and they aren't always noticeable. I think you start to feel better, stronger, and more energetic before you see physical changes. I am all for the slow and steady race for results and not a two week fix or some 1 week starvation detox for weight loss. However, during my workouts I am always checking in with myself on my intensity level. Am I pushing hard enough? Am I pushing to hard and compromising my form? Well, I have to say I LOVE my heart rate monitor for this very reason. It allows me to see where my intensity level is during my workout so I know the answers to those above questions. I have the Polar FT7 watch with the heart rate monitor that I got here. I use it for weight workouts, cardio, walks to the park, workouts at the park. It kinda serves as a gym partner. We all know that when we workout with someone we are more prone to push ourselves harder vs. working out alone and stopping to soon. This watch will allow you to program your fat burning zone min and max as well as your fitness zone min and max. But, my opinion on these zones is a little less traditional and here is why. I am 30 yrs old and according to the max heart rate formula (220-your age=max heart rate), my max heart rate is 190. Well, I consider myself to be in shape and I continually workout out so is it really that accurate to assume my max heart rate is the same as another 30 yr old woman who never workouts out? I don't think so. I think in comparison both of our resting heart rates would differ as well. The best way for me to find my max would be to perform an all out sprint to really find my limit. For me, my body would tell me when I hit my limit and the watch would serve as a guide as to determining that number once I hit that point. Now, regarding zones, the most popular one…the one you are eyeing…the one most of us think will provide the best benefits and get us back into those skinny jeans... is the fat burning zone. Am I right?!

Training Zones:
50-60%: low intensity
60-70%: fat burning zone
70-80%: aerobic zone
80-90%: anaerobic zone
90-100%: max zone

I think 'fat burning zone' is pretty catchy and inticing. I mean no one would gravitate towards it if it was called fat gaining zone. Nope, fat burning sounds like we are going to torture it right out of our body and bid it goodbye! I think this zone and its benefits above other zone's is a misconception. Do your research and decide for yourself. Yes, you do burn more fat calories in the fat burning zone however you burn more overall calories in the aerobic zone. In the aerobic zone you burn more calories per minute due to your elevated heart rate. Since your intensity is higher you are not burning the majority of your calories from fat, however you are burning more calories overall.  Why burn more calories overall when targeting those specific fat ones seems like nipping it in the butt?  Well, fat loss is accomplished by expending more calories than you consume. Your fat can't hide from a calorie deficit! So you WILL lose fat from burning more overall calories and reap more benefits from an aerobic workout than a easy peasy fat burning workout. A benefit to aerobic training zones is the after workout effect in which your body continues to burn calories post workout because you are recovering from an elevated heart rate. This means you can plop your butt on the couch once you completed your workout, not lift a finger, and you are still burning calories and reaping those rewards towards RESULTS!

With this said, I don't like to pay to much attention to my zones on my watch, but I do look at my total calorie count post workout and I do monitor my heart rate to see if I am pushing hard enough. My body will always be my ultimate judge but the watch is a great guide to helping me reach my goals and push myself a little harder each time.

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