WODify Pulse and Heart Rate Training Basics

So WODify Pulse, our new Heart Rate Training System is now up and running and hopefully most of you have had a play around and familiarised yourself with the system. There maybe a couple of teething issues the first couple of times you use it but we’ll have you up and running in no time.

So to recap, why are we using Heart Rate Training at ION?

1. First and foremost – It’s ‘FUN’ having live/post feedback – simple as that.

2. It’s a useful metric to have LIVE on the big screen during sessions to achieve the correct stimulus and intensity that the workout is geared towards and as a result, optimise performance.

Having WODify Pulse will also help to educate and increase your knowledge base of training. What may seem very complicated at the moment will become a lot clearer the more you use it.

If you haven’t done so already, please read the previous post on ‘Energy Systems Simplified’ and how different types of workouts stress your energy systems in different ways. Following on from that post you hopefully will have a better understanding as westart to relate it to Heart Rate based training.

Let’s first start with some basic facts on Max & Resting Heart Rate…..

An individual’s MAX Heart Rate is affected by Age & Genetics – training has little to no impact on Max Heart Rate. Max Heart Rate decreases as you get older – hence why the formula to calculate predicted Max. Heart Rate is 220 – Age. This is the formula that many of the Heart Rate training devices use and from all the studies researching Heart Rate and Training this is the most accurate. However, at times and for some individuals there will be an error of discrepancy in this predicted measure. For example, my prescribed max heart rate of 220 – Age (36, believe it or not) = 184 bpm, however during my first few sessions I was reaching 90+% of my predicted max heart rate and into the labelled RED zone, this indicated to me that my prescribed max was slightly out. As you will see later in the post, being in the RED zone is an all out effort, known as the DEAD zone, I wasn’t at this truly uncomfortable position so knew this wasn’t my red zone and, I gauged I was out by about 5 bpm so I manually altered my max heart rate to 191 bpm and its now far more accurate within sessions (its not the recommended way but through experience I was able to make this adjustment). A better alternativewould be to undertake a fitness test that will establish your true max heart rate. I will post a RAMP style Fitness Test that will give those the option to do the test to establish a true max heart rate should the suspect an inaccurate predicted Max. HR. Also, with the WODify Pulse devices, it also is clever enough to recalculate your max heart rate should you exceed your prescribed max heart rate in a training session!

Resting Heart Rate however, IS affected by fitness level, as well as age and genetics. The more efficient your cardiovascular conditioning is, the lower your resting heart rate will be. When you wake up in the morning put your strap on and measure you resting heart rate, repeat this on a daily basis for 5 days to get an average resting heart rate.

The tendency for most in workouts is to take the approach of  ‘3, 2, 1 eye balls out’ and hold on for as long as you can, we’ve all done that and I like this mentality from time to time as it does teach mental toughness and grit. However, training like this day in, day out is not the recommend way and causes a lot of stress on your body that will greatly effect your Central Nervous System and your ability to perform in workouts at an optimal level. In order to avoid this happening, utilising different training intensities in your training will prove to be incredibly beneficial and help to improve your performance across varying time domains of workouts.


So moving to more specifics with regards Heart Rate Based Training and the use of WODify Pulse at ION, its important individuals have an understanding of the Anaerobic Threshold.

What is our Anaerobic Threshold?

As mentioned in my post on Energy Systems Simplified, for the majority of our workouts at ION you are working a combination of the different energy systems, workouts may predominately tax one energy system more than another but there is still input from other areas. When working at a High Intensity you will be either working below or above your ‘Anaerobic Threshold’ – if you are working just below it you will be working a combination of both your aerobic and anaerobic system but your aerobic system is still in control. The higher the intensity of the workout the more dominant your anaerobic system becomes. When you are working at high intensity the muscles breakdown glycogen/glucose (Carbs) to produce energy and as result there are by-products in the form of lactate and hydrogen ions. When oxygen is present (aerobically) these by-products are cleared and converted into energy, when working at too high an intensity (anaerobically) these by products build up and the hydrogen ions lower the ph levels in the muscles causing the acidity levels to rise and that’s what causes the burning sensation and eventual fatigue and decrease in levels of performance.

If you tip over the Anaerobic Threshold it is at this point oxygen can’t get to your muscles quick enough to clear the by products, your muscles are predominately working anaerobically. So, for alot of the workouts we do, the aim is to stay as close to the anaerobic threshold as possible without going past it – that way we are working at a high intensity but efficiently.

Over time, your Anaerobic Threshold can be increased as you expose your self to high intensity efforts during training sessions. When increasing your anaerobic threshold it will allow you to work at a higher intensity with the body being able to prevent the build up of hydrogen ions that cause the acidity in the muscles/blood to rise, resulting in delaying fatigue.

Understanding Heart Rate Zones

What do the colours mean on the big screen or app mean?

Zone 1 – GREY (50 to 59% Max HR)  – helps with Recovery (steady state, gentle exercise)

Zone 2 – BLUE (60-69%) – jogging pace/warm up (steady state/active recovery)

Zone 3 – GREEN (70-79%) – working predominately aerobically but also anaerobic system is kicking in.

Zone 4 – YELLOW (80-89%) – the higher end of this zone is where your ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD will be – for a lot of workouts your goal should be to remain in this coloured zone for large portions of the workouts.

Zone 5 – RED (90-100%) – this is an all out max. effort, when you are kicking for home and emptying the tank, in workouts you shouldn’t be able to accumulate that much time in this zone.


Some important points

  • Red Zone – don’t fall into the trap of thinking being in the RED zone in workouts is where you want to be, it’s not, if you’re in the RED zone mid workout 2 things are happening, you are either working at a point that you will crash and burn very soon or your max heart rate is off and needs increasing (speak to one of the coaches). If RED zones were to appear it should be at the very latter stages of a workout where you are giving one last big push for home.
  • When doing more interval based workouts – objectives will be to work hard and this may take you ‘above’ your anaerobic threshold (higher 80s% Max HR) but during your rest periods monitor how quickly you are recovering. During the recovery your aerobic system is working hard to clear the muscles of by products built up during the work period. the fitter you get the more efficient you’ll be during the rest periods that will allow you to work harder during the reps. Watch your Heart Rate drop into the Green and Blue Zones! The same applies at the end of the workout, see how quickly it is taking you to recover. This will be a good marker of your cardiovascular system and as your fitness improves, the quicker you will recover post workouts.

Enjoy WODify Pulse!

Robin Sowden-Taylor, ASCC


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