HeartRate Zones

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard about heart rate training zones. And, if you’re into fitness you already know a bit about it. Today’s article will cover this (a little bit) for those of us who are a bit confused or wanting a little more information.

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

Ahhh… Got that disclaimer out of the way, now we can talk about blowing your heart up! hehe.

For simplicity, many people use the Haskell and Fox Formula for determining their maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). This method is commonly believed to be the most accurate. There is also the Karvonen Method; which includes the resting heart rate in the formula.

The Haskell and Fox Formula is simply: MPHR=220-your_age

That said, I don’t like to use any formula. Everybody has a different sized heart. And, different sized hearts pump blood at different rates. Everybody is at different levels of fitness. And, everyone is.. um.. different! For this reason, in my humble opinion, there is no “real” standard formula to know your true maximum heart rate (hence throwing “predicted” into the title. According to Haskell and Fox my MPHR is 173 beats per minute (BPM). But I know for a fact that my MPHR is at least 182 BPM, because I’ve hit that several times! If you must know your maximum heart rate, check with a cardiologist doctor who specializes in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake/intake) stress testing, or a fitness professional who has the proper equipment to measure this for you. Never try to do it on your own, because you could (and probably will) kill yourself!

Sidenote: One of my pet peeves is when people think that you can push yourself extra hard and momentarily boost your heart rate over your maximum BPM. Let’s dispel that shit right now… It is called maximum because it is the maximum. There is no going over (even for a second) the maximum rate your heart can pump. Otherwise it would be called close to maximum or something along those lines. If you go over your max heart rate, you have now discovered that your previous number was too low and you can replace it with the new value. PERIOD

Another note: Your MPHR will go down by approximately one beat per year (similar to Haskell and Fox’s guess). So, if you are 184 BPM this year, you will probably be 183 next year… And so on, and so forth.

Let’s discuss the “zones” for a minute. This is a common heart rate training zone list:
Zone 1 – 50-60% – Recovery (aerobic)
Zone 2 – 60-70% – Endurance (aerobic)
Zone 3 – 70-80% – Stamina (aerobic)
Zone 4 – 80-90% – Economy (anaerobic)
Zone 5 – 90-100% – Speed (anaerobic)

It is scientifically proven that training in certain zones is more beneficial depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not going into deep detail here, because there are tons of books that contain way more information than I could hope to include in a blog article. This is merely an introduction to get your interest piqued.

Now let’s draw a quick chart that shows a sample of how those zones are associated with heart rates. Since I know my estimated max, we’ll use my values to create our chart:

HR Zone
1
2
3
4
5
% of Max
50-60%
60-70%
70-80%
80-90%
90-100%
Heart Rate (BPM)
91-109
110-127
128-146
146-164
165-182

Now that we have laid this handy-dandy chart out, we need to factor one more important piece in to the equations… Everybody has a muscular failure point in exercise commonly called lactic acid threshold or lactate threshold. Essentially this means that your muscles (and ATP) cannot clear the lactic acid that is building up in your muscles. When this threshold is hit, you have a very short amount of time (sometimes seconds) left before you can no longer continue your activity. I’m sure we’ve all felt this threshold at some point in our life. I feel it at least a few times each week! Suffice it to say (without getting to obfuscated) if you go over this limit, you will not be able to continue working at that level for more than a few seconds.

This threshold appears to be somewhere right around 91.5% of your MPHR. Mine is at 166 BPM. During cardio, you do not want to go over this threshold (unless you are doing advanced high intensity interval training), because you won’t be able to maintain your state of exercise for more than a few seconds before you fall over and lay panting until your heart rate gets down and your muscles clear themselves of the painful acid. However, we often try to get to this point while doing weight lifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise (as opposed to aerobic exercise).

For more information on heart rate zones you can look for books by Sally Edwards and Joe Friel (among literally hundreds of other great authorities). My absolute favorite is found in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. He breaks it down in much more detail and even breaks the fifth zone into three sections (5a, 5b, and 5c).

I know this was only a cursory glance at this material, but I sincerely hope you found the article informative!

Now, figure out your zones, design a plan that includes being in one or more of them, and get out there and hit that zone!!!

-Rip

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Through My Eyes

We often hear statements like, “Oh yeah… Well you should try walking in my shoes…” Today, I’d like to offer my shoes and allow you to see through the eyes of a hemophiliac. Let’s start off by explaining what the heck hemophilia is. Hemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder in which your blood does not clot normally or properly. It is carried in the X chromosome, and is called an X-linked genetic disorder. Cutting through all of the obfuscation, it essentially means that I inherited a factor VIII (factor-8) deficiency from my mother, who was a carrier. Dumbing (is that even a word?) it down even further, it means that unlike average boys and girls, if I get bruised or cut, I will not stop bleeding without medical assistance.


My disclaimer: While I have lived with this confounded disease for 46+ years, I do not claim to be a medical professional nor someone who even knows what the heck he’s talking about. I am a mere mortal who loves sharing information. I am often wrong, and for that I apologize. I try to investigate and ensure that my data/information is correct, but as is always the case, I am bound to be wrong about something. At the least, I probably will have a misinterpretation or two in here. So, seek the advice of a medical professional if you are planning on writing a report on my post. Also, I do not necessarily condone some of the things I did and am not in any way suggesting that hemophiliacs should avoid listening to their parents and doctors. I am merely pointing out that I did some things and got away with them. Carry on!


About a generation or two ago, science made some huge breakthroughs with the hemophiliacs, and we created products based on blood donations called plasma, cryoprecipitate, and factor VIII that could temporarily turn an “easy bleeder” (my term for a hemophiliac) into a normal clotting person. This technology added years even decades to the longevity of hemophiliac. It also made it possible for us in the bleeding community to participate in more normal activities and sports (to some extent). I should mention that there are different types of bleeding disorders and they do not all use factor VIII to stop the bleeding. But, for simplicity’s sake, I went with what I am (type-A).

During the early years of this modern medical miracle, hemophiliacs were unfortunately hit with several life-threatening blood-borne pathogens, diseases, and viruses. Among these were HIV and Hepatitis. Because I am the lucky one, I got both of these. You heard me right… I said, “Because I am the lucky one.” I do consider myself lucky, because were it not for the advent of modern medical science I would have died from a bleeding issue years ago. As I’m sure you can imagine, the life expectancy of hemophiliacs was very short prior to the 1950’s (I believed the average death occurred by eleven years old back then). This is one of the reasons that I feel lucky. I also feel lucky in that I am only a mild hemophiliac. Whilst at hemophilia camp back when I was thirteen I had the pleasure of meeting many hemophiliacs that were not as lucky as me. One was in a padded wheelchair because his ankles and knees were so bad off that he would have bleeding episodes from simply walking.

In addition to the technology and mildness, I also feel lucky because of the awesome support system that is now available to hemophiliacs. Not only do we have the World Federation of Hemophilia, National Hemophilia Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, and state groups (I am a board member for the Hemophilia Foundation of Maryland), we also have hemophilia camps (I went to Bold Eagle), support groups, discussion forums (I’m a huge fan of HFA’s Blood Brotherhood Forum, and online services galore.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we easy bleeders are also surrounded and supported by loving family and friends!

Now you can see why I feel lucky.

Now that I convinced you that I’m lucky, we can dabble in a few of my unlucky areas. When I was a kid I was regularly picked on and even bullied. A few of the more obstinate bullies even punched me exclaiming, “I wanna see you swell up!” And, they called me names like: homo-feel-ya or something similar. It was often brutal, but it also taught me how to calmly take these attacks and live despite them. So, in some weird way, the bullying also strengthened me.

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

    —Friedrich Nietzsche

I was very sheltered by my mother as I grew up. I fear that some of this may have been the cause for my dramatic outburst as a teenager when I started doing things I shouldn’t have (like playing football with neighborhood kids and skateboarding). However, I know that she was worried about me, and wanted me to be safe. The funny thing about this protection and my adrenaline-based extracurricular events is that I often sustained some serious bleeds while being “safe.” As a matter of fact, the very most damaging and worst bleeds occurred while playing at camp Bold Eagle (with other hemophiliacs-and being safe), getting my wisdom teeth pulled, and, of all things, having my toe lanced to cure an ingrown toenail issue. So, avoiding contact sports and other dangerous habits was not my only nemesis. As a bleeder, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was susceptible to all manner of painful bleeds.

If I have learned one very important thing, it is something that ALL of us should learn (bleeder or not). That is, our choices have consequences. That statement is so important, that I will repeat it, “Our choices have consequences.” And, it is our responsibility to choose wisely. Actually, I love the word responsible. I prefer to break it down and say it like: response able. In other words, each of us is able to respond. Thinking like that might save lives!

Now that I’ve put the fear of a slow and painful death by horrible bleeding episodes in you, let me leave you with a parting note… Live life! You heard it from me… As long as you realize (honestly) that there are consequences for your decisions, and you weigh those consequences carefully thinking about the future and how it will affect you, I think you should do whatever you want (please read the above disclaimer). I may not necessarily be the best role model for fellow hemophiliacs, because at some time or another I have rock climbed, raced motorcycles, and skateboarded (among other deadly things *insert dastardly music here*). However, I am still here. I’m still here because I’m lucky… But, I also create some of my luck through careful thought and recognition of what I’m doing. I guess what I am saying is, be response-able with your choices!

I hope this article touched a nerve. And, I sincerely hope I helped in some way. If you aren’t a hemophiliac, then maybe this opened your eyes a little bit.

Thanks for listening (reading),
Vaughn “the easy bleeder” Ripley

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Fish Oil Might Help

Let’s discuss Omega-3 fatty acids and their potential benefits!

Back a few articles ago (as you know) I started talking about different foods, drinks, and vitamin supplements that I ingest on a daily basis to increase the strength of my immune system and add to my overall health and longevity. This whole thing was originally kicked off with my post about oranges. Today is really no different, except the topic shifted slightly… Let’s dig in!

As most of you know, there are lots of health benefits that come from taking a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) has been proven to help lower triglycerides and blood pressure. Studies also show that omega-3 may help with other conditions like: asthma, Alzheimer disease, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, inflammation, among others.

Hemophilia Alert: Omega-3 may cause the blood to thin and cause excess bleeding. This is not necessarily bad, but should be considered if you have a bleeding disorder, or are taking anticoagulant drugs.

 

There are three main types of omega-3s: EPA, DHA, and ALA. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids in our diets. ALA, DHA, and EPA are not made in our bodies; therefore, we must get them from our diet. Two of the most important fatty acids that come from omega-3 are EPA and DHA; which are found in certain fish. The third one, ALA, can be found in plants, oils, and walnuts.

Whenever possible, the best possible way to get your omega-3 fatty acids is from fresh foods. You can find good natural sources of DHA and EPA omega-3s in the following fish:

  • trout
  • tuna
  • anchovies
  • bluefish
  • herring
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • sturgeon
  •  

    If you cannot eat these fish three times per week, then you should consider supplementing with an omega-3 capsule.

    You can find ALA in:

  • walnuts
  • flax and flaxseed oil
  • canola oil
  • olive oil
  • soybean oil
  •  

    I’d love to get my daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids directly from fresh food sources, but I rarely do… So, I pop an omega-3 pill twice a day. Essentially, I do this to ensure that I get the proper amount of DHA and EPA.

    Do you make sure to get a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids?

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