Maximum heart rate is the maximum attainable heart rate for a person usually reached during all-out maximal exercise. Percent of maximum heart rate
is often used as a marker of intensity and has even been used to
prescribe exercise intensity. However, making a prescription based on
heart rate alone, while precise, is not always very accurate.
The most accurate way of prescribing exercise intensity is
ventilatory threshold. However, measuring ventilator threshold is
difficult, time consuming, and requires a fully equipped exercise
physiology laboratory. Ventilatory threshold is measured using
collected exhaled air as you exercise at higher and higher intensities.
By analyzing breathing rate and exhaled air, the two ventilatory thresholds, VT1 and VT2,
can be measured. The ventilatory thresholds correspond to how your
body is creating energy and how the heart and lungs are working.
Training below VT1 (Zone 1) can be sustained for long periods of time,
but usually doesn’t lead to much improvement in cardiovascular fitness.
Training between VT1 and VT2 (Zone 2) cannot be sustained for very
long, but leads to greater improvements in cardiovascular fitness.
Training above VT2 (Zone 3) can only be sustained for very short periods
of time and is most effective in maximizing work capacity. Heart rate
matched to the laboratory measured ventilatory threshold is a very
accurate way of prescribing cardiovascular intensity
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