Principle No. 4 of Heart Zones Training: Wellness is a Continuum.
The great science fiction writer Ray Bradbury once wrote about, “the naming of names,” the all-too-human urge to make sure everything has a handle for us to hold on to. We in the fitness industry are no different. In fact, think about the word “fitness.” What does it mean, really? At its most basic, it can refer to cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, overall physical fitness or even mental fitness. A great word, but a little hard to tie down.
We have the same problem with “wellness,” which is certainly more than the absence of disease. For our purposes, let’s break wellness down into three areas, which, when taken together, form a continuum of good health and a critical aspect of Heart Zones Training.
The first component of wellness is one’s basic (but not so basic when it’s lacking!) health. For most of us, this is the key training area, because here we achieve the most essential health outcomes, such as weight management, lower cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. Training in the health area is usually at an easier activity level, where more fat as a percentage of total calories is burned. This is also the training area for those recovering from cardiovascular problems and undertaking cardiac rehabilitation. The two primary training zones in this area are the Temperate zone and the Healthy Heart zone.
The second component of aerobic wellness is fitness. When you’re in this area, you’re maintaining and improving your fitness, but this is measured by different parameters than it was in the health area. Aerobic fitness is measured as cardiovascular fitness, which is improved aerobic and non-oxidative capacity. The exercise physiologists have lots of more precise terms for the fitness area: lactate tolerance enhancement, increased VO₂ capacity, improved threshold heart rate, etc, etc. You can go to the back of this book for definitions of these terms – “Glossary of Heart Rate Terms”. It suffices to say you can exercise harder or with more intensity than you could in the health area. Training in the fitness zone is strenuous but fun, challenging yet comfortable, and you can see body changes quicker than changes in the more basic health outcomes.
The third component in our wellness continuum is performance. This is where the athletes hang out, exercising with high heart rate numbers – all the way up to their max. The feeling is much different; you breathe hard and fast, you feel the burn in the sport-specific muscles, you see the blood vessels emerging to release heat, sometimes you even have a faint metal taste in your mouth from the anaerobic metabolic processes spewing out with high concentrations of lactates.
There are three different Wellness Zones within the heart zones training system which are a part of the five different zones. In the following chart, you can see how the health zone is within the bottom zones while the fitness zone is in the middle and the performance zones for athletes and competitors are the hotter and higher zones.
When you begin your individualized Heart Zones Training, you select which of these wellness areas you want to work in on any given day. That depends on the goal of your exercise regimen.Do you want:
• to improve your health, by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and seeing weight loss or stability?
• to improve your fitness, as measured by improving your cardiovascular capacity?
• to improve your athletic performance, by raising your threshold as close as possible to your maximum heart rate?
Once you pick the one that suits you, then you know where you are going to spend time in the heart zones.
More to come ..
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to release excerpts throughout upcoming weeks. If you want to read the entire book, make sure to swing by our online store and grab a copy: The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook.