by Don Heatrick

A lot of fighters are using heart rate monitors these days, to allow them to train at the right intensity fin their cardio sessions.

And I love using monitors in my programs too…

Most fighters are basing their training on a calculated age related maximum heart rate…

Which for most people will be way off – because individual genetics determine what your max heart rate is, NOT your fitness.

So there’s no bragging rights for how high you can go.

Resting heart rate is a real indicator of aerobic fitness – it’ll get lower as your fitness improves.

And rather than percentage of maximum heart rate, I’ve spoken before about how basing training either above, below, or at your anaerobic threshold is how I prefer to manage training – I’ll you a link to more on that… (here)

But for those of you fit and healthy enough to tolerate a maximum heart rate test, here’s how you can find out how high your heart rate really goes…

And you can stick that into your heart rate monitor, to better represent heart rate zones if that’s how you want to work.

Before you get going, I’d recommend that you use an app that records the whole heart rate plot, so you can see if the result looks right or not…

Sometimes, low batteries, chest strap electrodes that are too dry, static from your clothes, or even running past an electrical substation can cause interference and record a false heart rate spike.

You won’t realise that if you are just looking at the summary stats on a watch.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the test…

After 5-10 minutes warming up, it’s as simple as putting on your hear rate chest strap, start recording heart rate, and carry out the following at 100% maximum sprint intensity:

Sprint, either running (ideally up an hill), or sprint pad work for 2 mins. You’re gunning for the highest heart rate possible.

After 2 mins stop, and record your maximum heart rate while resting for a minute.

Then go again, for another 2 mins sprinting – give it everything!

Again, after 2 mins stop and  record your maximum heart rate while resting for a minute.

If your heart rate wasn’t higher than the first round, record your maximum heart rate – test complete.

If your heart rate was higher than the first round, after 1 min rest you’re going to go again!

Sprint flat out for 2 mins, and record you maximum heart rate.

Again, if your heart rate wasn’t higher than the last round, record your maximum heart rate – you’re done.

If your heart rate WAS higher than the last round, after 1 min rest you’re going to go again! And so on, until you max out!

This is a VERY strong training stimulus!It’ll take your body longer to recover from this than you realise.

To be productive, don’t plan to too much else in the way of other training on the same day.

This  format is also what Joel Jamieson calls “Cardiac Power Intervals”, and something I use in my online program as you get closer to a fight.

As a training method, it’s to be used sparingly, and at the right time.

I’d love to know, how old are you and what is your maximum heart rate?

Remember, no bragging rights – it’s genetic, nothing to do with how hard you train!

For example, I’ve a  client who at 20 years old has a max heart rate of 186 bpm, while at 48 years old, mine is 199 bpm.

If you’re healthy enough and you’re up for doing the max heart rate test, give it a go…

And let me know your age and your highest measured heart rate in the comments!

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Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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