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Thread: Target Heart Rate

  1. #1

    Target Heart Rate

    I've read several articles about the need to keep your heart rate in the 'target zone' to maximize the benefits of cardio training. Generally the target zone is between 55% and 65% of your maximum heart rate, with maximum heart rate defined as 220 minus your age.

    Since I'm 35 (C7) my target zone works out to a heart rate between 100 and 120 bpm. The problem is that I have a very hard time getting to and staying in that range. I'm around 90 bpm most of the time on working out with my hand bike (I've gotten to 100+ bpm but can't keep the pace to maintain it).

    Should I use a lower target?
    Am I still getting the same benefits? <I want to burn fat and build lean tissue>
    Should I push myself harder to raise my heart rate?
    Should I exercise longer? <I go 30 minutes 6 days per week>

  2. #2
    the fundamental problem as a quad is that your heart doesn't respond to exercise stimuli as before, so the non sci parameters are not valid. this is due to disuption of the autonomic nervous system, which control heart rate.

    there are various positions held by researchers etc whether a quad can generate a true cardiovascular response to exercise even using FES assistance. i'm sure an internet search would locate some.

  3. #3
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    quadfather

    First, it seems like 30 minutes 6 times per week is a good cardio workout. When I had personnel trainers they suggested doing cardio first thing in the morning because you haven't eaten anything and you get into that fat reserve quicker.

    I haven't done a lot of research around heart rates and can only tell you what happened with me (c8-t1) when I was training on my racer for marathons a few years back. I had a heart rate monitor and had a hard time getting past 100-110 bpm at first. After a while I would be able to maintain 130-140 very easily during a 2 hour workout and would get it up to 170-180 bpm during sprints. I had a lot of things going on so its hard to figure which was the main contributor but here are a few ideas:

    1) Try interval training routines once or twice per week - 5 minute warm-up. 20-30 minute workout and 5 minute warm-down. During the workout part try sprinting then backing off. Some routines:

    Routine 1:
    - 30 sec sprint, 30 second let off the pace (keep cycling though or in the beginning just rest but you'll have to get momentum going again) Do this 5 times
    - Move up to 45 seconds sprint then easy pace - do this 5 times
    - Move up to 1 minute sprint then easy pace - do this 5 times
    - Move down to 45 seconds - do this 5 times
    - Move down to 30 seconds - do this 5 times
    Might be tough at first but do what you can do and you may have to work up to the 1 minute part.

    Routine 2:
    Do the same type of thing but instead of time use distance on your odometer. Get one if you don't have one - great training tool.

    Routine 3:
    Do the same type of thing but use your average speed as a starting point and add 20-30%% for the sprints. So if you are doing 10 mph go to 12-13 mph for a certain amount of time or distance.

    Routine 4:
    Same type of workout as Routine 1 but use your heart rate as a guide. So try to get your heart rate up to 120 (higher as you progress) while sprinting and keep it there for 30 secs, etc. This routine might be easier after a while of interval training.

    Be creative. Also, its hard to do interval training more than a few times a week because it beats up your body. Runners use this to get faster and to hit different muscles (fast twitch vs. slow twitch). What you will notice is that your body starts to get used to the faster speed and intensity and I saw my heart rate go up.

    2) Do you do intense weight (resistance) training? I did this with trainers and they beat the living crap out of me. They kept the intensity up and I think this helped alot. By yourself - Try doing drop sets (do a normal set with weights you are used to then grab something half the weight or whatever makes sense and do as many additional reps as possible). Try doing a final set with 50 reps.

    3) Diet - I ate 7 meals a day and my metabolism really went up.

    I think the interval training will help get your body used to a higher heart rate and it will just take time but I think you can get there. I never sweat (even after a 20 mile workout at a good clip) until I started to do all 3 of these. By the way, my trainers (and now me) believe that 70-75% of your gains (getting leaner) will come from a proper diet. Lots of smaller meals, balanced, and lots of protein. Don't give up on carbs because you need them to fuel your body but take complex carbs (sweet potato and brown rice) vs. simple or processed carbs.

    Steve

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    quadfather

    One other thought. Try measuring your resting heart rate (heart rate when you first wake up) and see what the improvement is over time. Mine is usually around high 60s/low 70s when I'm not working out a lot (like now). While marathon training it got down to the mid 40s. Good method to show if you are showing cardio improvements (basically less work on the heart to move the blood). Cyclsts are know to have resting heart rates in the low 40s high 30s. And pickup some running magazines or cycling magazines and they will give you examples for interval training and improving your heart rate.

  5. #5
    Steve,
    I am a physical Therapist asst. and I write a newsletter bimonthly for my Spinal Cord Injured patients. would you mind if I used your routines in my newsletter? I would greatly appreciate it - Thank You

    Penny

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    Penny

    Feel free to use them - I got them from a coach when I was on the RIC (Rehab Institute of Chicago) race team. If I get an opportunity I'll try to find my workout log and see what other routines I used. Just moved so it may take a bit to dig through all the boxes. It is easier to do these on a stationary roller but I have also done them while road training.

    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    crags really touched on the main point for us quads. Loss of normal autonomic function, specifically sympathetic innervation, means that we don't have all the right responses to exercise that would allow us to further improve conditioning.

    Sympathetic Nervous System Dysfunction
    In addition to skeletal muscle paralysis, aerobic exercise capability of individuals with SCI can be limited by diminished sympathetic outflow (Figure 2), since sympathetic stimulation is required for normal cardiovascular reflex responses to exercise. These reflexes normally augment blood flow to metabolically active skeletal muscles to provide more oxygen and fuel substrates, while increasing the rate of metabolic end-product removal. Such responses include: vasoconstriction in relatively inactive tissues (e.g., gut, kidneys, skin); vasodilation of skeletal muscle arterioles; venoconstriction (which facilitates venous return); and increases in heart rate, myocardial contractility, stroke volume, and cardiac output (1,2,23-25). Although these reflexes are absent to varying degrees in most individuals with SCI, those with lesions above T1 would have interruption of all sympathetic nerves that innervate the heart (from T1 to T4), which would markedly limit cardioacceleration, myocardial contractility, stroke volume, and cardiac output (26). With this condition, any cardioacceleration that occurs with exercise may be primarily due to withdrawal of vagal parasympathetic tone to the S-A node. As a result, persons with complete quadriplegia usually have a peak exercise heart rate (e.g., 100-125 beats/min) that is well below the age-predicted maximal. In addition, the combination of reduced venous return and deficient myocardial contractility decreases the stroke work (i.e., stroke volume × mean arterial blood pressure) of the heart, which can ultimately lead to loss of left ventricular muscle mass. This is especially prevalent in quadriplegia (27). It is also likely that reduced sympathetic outflow with SCI will impair thermoregulatory capacity due to inappropriate blood flow distribution and insufficient sweating response below the lesion level (28).


    http://www.vard.org/mono/sci/sciglase.htm

    This is why it's common for quad athletes to induce AD symptoms while exercising. It helps overcome the lack of autonomic response from exercise by stimulating that response in another way. Of course this can be dangerous.

    I've spent the last month fine-tuning my exercise routine. I figured out that by drinking massive amounts of water before and during exercise I can avoid the exercise hypotension that was plaguing me. It would always make me dizzy after 35 minutes even though my legs were supplying the "skeletal pump." Without a higher increase in cardiac output AND vasoconstriction of inactive tissues like the gut and skin... it was very hard to avoid nausea and dizziness. Drinking liters of water helps keep the blood pressure higher. And my normal urination causes an autonomic response, raising my systolic blood pressure as much as forty points. So by drinking large amounts of water and voiding into a night bag while pedaling I totally blow away the limitations I would normally face.

    Noradrenaline, AKA norepinephrine, is the neurotransmitter that is released for general activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This is the "fight or flight" response in humans and animals. Maybe someone will invent a drug with a very short half life that we could take to allow us to exercise beyond our current limitations due to loss of sympathetic innervation.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  8. #8
    Thanks Steve, It will really help my current topic.

    Penny

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    Jeff

    Thanks for the post. I always wondered why it took so much and so long so me to generate a sweat and get my heart rate going.

    Steve

  10. #10
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    One more thing....

    Heart rate (HR) while at rest is not such a good indicator of physical conditioning in quadriplegics [tetraplegics].

    Because of lower basal activity in the postganglionic sympathetic neurons and adrenal medulla and because of the overrule of the parasympathetic vagal tone, Tetra persons showed a significantly lower HR and lower O2 at rest compared with the other groups; this result is an expression of lower metabolism.

    http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/85/2/635

    Read the article at the above link for another really good discussion about the effect of losing sympathetic innervation on physical capacity. It's an intense study comparing tetras, mid-paras and low-paras.

    We quads need to beat this problem if we want to achieve optimal conditioning. There has to be a safe way to do it.

    BTW, for us quads, a much better test of our conditioning is the amount of time after peak exercise that it takes our heart rate to return to normal. This way we don't get fooled by a low HR while at rest.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

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