How Heart Rate Training Creates Elite Athletes

Uncategorized Mar 26, 2017
By: Jake Tanenbaum

It’s the difference between life or death. It’s linked to love, affection, the soul, and so many other things. It also tells you how good of shape you’re in. It’s no wonder some of the best athletes in the world use heart rate training in their programs in order to compete at the most elite levels.This article will go in depth about heart rate and it’s link to physical fitness, and by the end I hope you will be able to incorporate some aspect of heart rate training into your wrestling program.

Resting Heart Rate

Let’s start with resting heart rate. This is your heart when it’s at rest, such as when you’re sleeping or have been resting for a couple of minutes. This is a good indicator of how fit you are. Lance Armstrong was said to have a resting heart rate of 35, what’s yours?

Let’s start with the average. The average adult male’s resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute. Females are generally a little higher than males, as are kids. Take a few moments to get your resting heart rate by placing your two fingers (index and middle) over your radial or carotid artery (radial is underneath your thumb, and carotid is below your chin on your neck, you can look these up on Google if you need help). Now, once you can feel the beat, take a stopwatch and count the beats for 10 seconds. Then, multiply that number times 6 and that is your heart rate (in beats per minute). You can also use devices such as heart rate monitors or smart watches to calculate heart rate for you. However, sometimes smart watches may not be as accurate because they are inhibited by things such as skin color, if you have tattoos, hairiness, etc. So although most of them are accurate while at rest and if worn tight, be sure you double check with another method to be sure.

Let’s say you have a resting heart rate of below 60, what does this mean? Well, in cardiac terms, it’s called bradycardia, or another fancy word for a slow heartbeat. This can be good or bad. Usually, if you are very healthy and in great shape, this is a good thing. However, in sedentary adults it could mean there is a heart condition. If you have a heart rate much lower than 60, and you are in great shape, that is an indicator of a strong heart. Like your chest or biceps, your heart is also a muscle, just a different kind of muscle. But the more you workout, the stronger it gets because it has to pump blood more forcefully to the rest of your body. Thus, a low resting heart rate simply means that your heart is pumping with more force and getting more blood throughout your body, so it does not have to beat as fast to do this.

Maximum Heart Rate

Now let’s go to the opposite extreme of that and go over maximum heart rate. That is how fast your heart can possibly beat. Although in some rare cases, though not good ones, the heart could get up to beats nearing 300 beats per minute. However, that just means the heart is beating way too fast, and specific techniques have to be used to get it back down to normal. But let’s not worry about that for now. Generally speaking, your maximum heart rate comes down to a simple equation (although there have been more advanced equations coming out as of recently). The basic equation is 220-your age. That is the estimated max heart rate. Most of the time, it’s higher than that based on my research and studies. However, that’s not a bad gauge to go by. Although your resting heart rate may be altered by exercise, your maximum heart rate, however, will not change as much.

So there you have the two extremes, resting heart rate as well as max heart rate. Now, let’s talk about what happens in between. As you’ll learn as you peruse through the rest of the site, heart rate indicates a lot of different things. You just learned how resting heart rate is influenced by working out more, and maximum heart rate can be influenced by things such as age. So, what else is there? Well, you may have heard the terms aerobic and anaerobic. Let’s talk about those for a moment.

Heart Rate in Relation to Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

I briefly covered aerobic and anaerobic training in my article on training for altitude, and we will cover these more extensively later. Basically, aerobic means with oxygen and anaerobic means without oxygen. Long distance runners, swimmers, and cyclist have very strong aerobic systems. Although they do not look as strong as athletes such as power lifters, they have different types of muscles that are very efficient at going long distances and lasting over the course of long races.

Anaerobic athletes are those such as short distance sprinters, power lifters, football players, etc. Those athletes generally have large muscles that are very powerful for a short period of time. Although a football game can last over 2 hours, each play typically lasts around 11 seconds. These muscles can recover quickly if trained well, but generally do not last long periods of time (such as throughout a marathon).

So, what does heart rate have to do with this? Depending on your heart rate, you can tell if you’re body is in an aerobic or anaerobic state. But first, we need to know the terms lactate threshold (LT) and anaerobic threshold (AT). We’ll be referring to the anaerobic threshold (AT) for now

Your AT is the point at which your body shifts from being in a primarily aerobic state to an anaerobic state. What happens when you cross this threshold is that you’re breathing starts getting faster, you’re exhaling more carbon dioxide than you’re taking in oxygen, and bluntly put, you start to fatigue. This threshold depends on things such as genetics and the environment. Meaning, you can train this threshold. In an untrained athlete, the heart rate at the AT might be close to 155-160. The more one trains, the higher the heart rate is at the AT.

I hope I haven’t lost you yet, because this next paragraph can really help you and change the way you train yourself or your athletes. The more aerobic training you do (with heart rates under the AT, such as below 160) the more this threshold gets pushed back. What I’m indicating here is that the more aerobically you train, the better your body will be at using that system. Which is very important in wrestling, because we use both systems heavily. However, if one can go most of the match in the aerobic system with heart rates below 160 and still be victorious, this athlete has been very well trained and is in top shape. It is very important, however, to train the anaerobic system as well. Because this is the explosive system, but it does have its limits. So, the more the aerobic system is in top shape, the easier it is for the anaerobic system to perform and recover.

We’ll talk more about anaerobic and aerobic training in further articles and videos. The main point of this article was to go over heart rate and how important it is for your training. And we only scratched the surface. There are other measures, such as heart rate variability (HRV) which indicate things such as how well rested you are. Top trainers around the world are beginning to use HRV methods to know when to push their athletes the hardest, and conversely, when to back off and give them a rest. Filip (Novachkov) talks about using HRV methods in his article on how he won the Schultz tournament. It’s a great read as well.

More and more athletes are using advanced techniques in their training, and it’s time wrestling caught up to the curve. Athletes such as Mixed Martial Artists are lucky to have some of the top strength and conditioning specialists in the world to cater their programs and tell them what to do on a day to day basis. Strength and conditioning plays a huge role in wrestling, as I’m sure you know. In our Bulgarian Muscle system, we will detail out training programs and systems used to maximize you or your athlete’s potential. Our system is hands down the best and has been tried and tested amongst elite wrestlers all over the world.


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