Understanding Heart Rate Training

It’s been just over a month since we started bringing heart rate monitoring to all of our classes at Revive, and we are so excited about the measurable results that our clients are seeing! We’ve had incredible feedback, and we’ve also had a lot of questions, so we are answering some of the most common ones here, and now.

1. Why should I use a heart rate monitor?

To maximize results, get instant feedback and workout smarter.  For our HIIT classes, when you reach your yellow/red zones for 15 minutes or more, that promotes an effect called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC.  EPOC refers to a post workout response where your metabolism is elevated and therefore you burn more calories at rest for up to 36 hours after your workout.  

2. What do the different colours mean?

Red = maximum (90-100% max heart rate)
Yellow = hard (80-90% max heart rate)
Green = moderate (70-80% max heart rate)
Blue = light (60-70% max heart rate)
Grey =  very light (less than 50% max heart rate)

3. How is my maximum heart rate calculated?

As a baseline measurement, your maximum heart rate (or MHR) is calculated as 220-your age. With that said, this is not a perfect science and your actual maximum heart rate may be higher or lower depending on genetics, fitness level, and body composition. Your Trainer can work with you over a few classes to adjust your maximum heart rate to ensure it is most accurate for you.

4. Why can’t I get into the red zone, even though I am working really hard?

Everyone’s training thresholds are different and it actually has nothing to do with your fitness level. John’s maximum threshold could be in yellow while Jane’s is in red… all at the same time, their perceived effort is the same.  

5. Do I want to be spending most of my time in the red zone?

No, we typically recommend doing 15 minutes or more in yellow and red combined.  However spending the whole class is not recommended and is not the purpose of HIIT training.  HIIT training is intended for you to work hard under certain time intervals followed by periods of recovery.  If you’re not recovering fast enough, take a few more minutes to get your heart rate down.

6. Why am I reaching 105% of my maximum heart rate?

The 220-age formula to measure max heart rate isn’t always accurate so you may go above 100% of your max HR which technically should never happen.  If you see this occur, please ask one of our Trainers to adjust for you.  

7. Why does my watch display a different calorie burn than the monitor?

Polar was the company that started heart rate training and provides leading edge technology with monitoring HR.  When it comes to chest strap vs watch, the chest strap is about 20% more accurate due to the placement right above your xiphoid process. Its response time to HR changes are also instantaneous vs watches which are often delayed and therefore make it difficult to accurately measure recovery.

8. Why is there so much difference in calorie burn when we all did the same class?

Total calories burned during class is measured through an algorithm that takes in consideration your sex, weight and age.  Basically, factors like the younger you are, the more you weigh and if you are a male would all boost your calories burned.


Keep an eye out for upcoming Fundamentals of Heart Rate classes where we will go through the purpose of HR training, complete a workout designed to explain the target zones, and help you understand which zones are right for you. And if you have any more questions about Heart Rate training in the meantime, please ask one of your Trainers or send us an email at contact@revivelifestylefitness.com