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Strength

High heart rate strength training (HHRST)

Danny O'Dell explains what high-heart-rate strength training is all about and provides an example six-week training programme

You may be asking yourself "what is this high heart rate strength training all about"? The short answer is combination cardio at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate (HRmax) and strength training at 70-80% 1 repetition max (RM). This type of training is the foundation of general physical preparation for all who strive to be the best at their sport.

Key to abbreviations

  • HRmax Maximum heart rate
  • HRreserve heart rate reserve
  • HRrest Resting Heart rate
  • HRtarget Target heart rate
  • RM Repetition Maximum

In order to perform this demanding type of exercise regimen you must already be in excellent condition as it is not appropriate for the inexperienced to do. Excellent condition by my definition is as follows:

  1. You have been exercising consistently over the past year
  2. You have an established and known regular resting heart rate (HRrest)
  3. You are currently performing no less than 30 to 45 minutes of cardio every other day at 70-80% of your HRmax (see Appendix A)
  4. You understand the Borg Scale "perceived exertion rate" scale of 0 to 10 (See Appendix B). Where 0 is perceived as being the lightest easiest and ten is the hardest most difficult and impossible to do
  5. You have an established specific repetition maximum in the following eight exercises:
    1. Military press
    2. Chin ups (maximum number performed at one time with no rests between each one) OR Pull downs
    3. Bench press
    4. Barbell row-three reps
    5. Squat
    6. Sit ups (maximum number performed at one time with no rests between each one)
    7. Back extensions (maximum number performed in one minute at one time with no rests between each one)

You also need to determine and record your

  1. height and weight
  2. hip to waist ratio
  3. stomach girth

Once you have fulfilled the above criteria then the program can begin with an introduction into the training regimen. This "starter routine" will be performed for the first two weeks to make certain you are up to the stress and the activity pace. It is recommended you consult with your doctor before performing any new exercise routine or program. Pay very close attention as to how you feel, as it is easy for you to become faint unless you are in excellent condition. If you feel queasy or light headed, then lie down so that your feet are above your heart and slowly consume some fluid e.g. water or a high glycaemic drink.

Introduction to the 6-week High Heart Rate Strength Training program

Warm up before exercising, a rope-skipping routine provides an excellent general warm up. Once the general warm up is completed and before beginning a specific exercise perform several mimicking movements of the exercise before adding external weight.

Week one and two Do the following exercises two to three times per session for two weeks, two times a week. Keep track of your heart rate throughout the session. After each rope-skipping episode begin the next set of exercises when your pulse reaches 70% HRmax. Do not let it drop below the 70% HRmax.

  • Skip rope for one minute at a steady pace
  • 360's (bridges) one at each position for 15 seconds with perfect form for one minute
  • Skip rope for one minute at a steady pace

Note: Warm up your shoulders and arms with the shoulder series of moves as described here before moving on to the push-ups:

  • Do each one of the following 15-20 times. Start with bodyweight only and work up from there. Some advanced elite athletes use up to twenty kilograms for these exercises.
    • Arms outstretched in front of you - perform wide clockwise circles with the hands
    • Arms outstretched in front of you - perform wide counter clockwise circles with the hands
    • Arms straight down to the sides with palms facing the body move arms out to the front and back up over head without bending them
    • Arms outstretched in front of you - bend arms at the elbows to 90° and then extended rapidly to the front and back to the 90° starting position
  • One minute of push-ups

Note: Warm up your lower body with a set of 15-25 good mornings and one set of 15-25 bodyweight only squats before beginning with the weighted squats that follow.

  • One minute of squats at 40% 1RM
  • Skip rope for one minute
  • One minute full range of motion sit-ups with hands on the chest Note:

Warm up the chest and upper arms with an additional series of shoulder warm ups but this time do only ten each of the series before beginning the bench press and barbell rows.

  • Bench press one minute at 40% 1RM
  • Barbell row one minute at 40% 1RM
  • Skip rope for one minute
  • Back extensions for one minute
  • Skip rope for two minutes

Cool down

The cool down provides your body the opportunity to return to a near normal state. The static stretches make use of the muscle's warmth and lower viscosity of the tissues. There are six rules of stretching as recommended by the stretching authority Brad Walker of Australia. The stretching rules are:

  1. Warm up prior to stretching
  2. Stretch before and after exercise
  3. Stretch all of the major muscle groups and their opposing muscle groups
  4. Stretch gently and slowly
  5. Stretch only to the point of tension, these are not meant to be painful
  6. Breathe slowly and easily

The cool down routine

Do static stretches of your choice for the following areas until your heart rate is once again normal, i.e. your regular pulse rate while out of bed in your daily routine.

There is a myriad of stretches that are equally effective at the end of your HHRST session, just pick out the ones you enjoy doing during this relaxing point of the exercise session.

  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Chest
  • Legs quads and hamstrings
  • Lower back

Weeks three and four

The warm up protocol will remain the same as in weeks one and two. The intensity of the strength exercises rises to 50% 1RM with the heart rate staying at 70% HRmax. In these next two weeks, the strength movements will be packaged together in pairs before moving onto the cardio portion.

Do this schedule three times a week for three rotations each time.

  1. Skip rope for two minutes
  2. Sit ups for one minute at a steady pace
  3. 360's (bridges) for six repetitions, holding at each of the four positions for 5 seconds
  4. Skip rope for two minutes
  5. Squats for one minute with 50% 1RM at a steady pace-use a metronome set to thirty beats per minute or more
  6. Calf raises for one minute with an external load equal to your body weight
  7. Skip rope for two minutes
  8. Sit ups for one minute
  9. Warm up your shoulders with the same series as in weeks one and two
  10. Military presses at 50% 1RM for one minute
  11. Pull downs at 60% of your body weight for one minute
  12. Skip rope for two minutes
  13. Back extensions for one minute
  14. Bench presses at 60% 1RM for one minute
  15. Triceps extensions for one minute at a perceived exertion rate of 6-7
  16. Skip rope for two minutes
  17. Sit ups for two minutes

Cool down and let your body return to near normal again. As you cool down perform static stretches for the following areas:

  • Calves, hamstrings and quads
  • Lower back
  • Shoulders
  • Chest and arms

Weeks five and six

The intensity of the strength exercises rises to 70% 1RM with the heart rate moving to 80% HRmax. In these next two weeks, the strength movements will be separated before moving onto the cardio portion.

Do this schedule twice a week for three rotations.

  1. The warm up is five minutes of skipping rope followed by 25 sit ups, 25 good mornings, 25 body weight squats and 15-25 press ups modified or regular
  2. Squats at 70% 1RM for thirty seconds
  3. Check your pulse
  4. Skip rope for three minutes
  5. Hanging Leg raises for one minute
  6. Shoulder and chest warm up - see above shoulder series in weeks one and two
  7. Bench presses at 70% 1RM for thirty seconds
  8. Skip rope for two minutes
  9. Barbell rows-maintain your solid back arch
  10. Skip rope for three minutes
  11. Military presses at 70% 1RM for thirty seconds
  12. Skip rope for two minutes
  13. Chin-ups or pull downs. If doing the pull downs, then use a weight that is 70% of your body weight for one minute
  14. Skip rope for five minutes

Cool down with static stretches for these areas:

  • Hamstrings, lower back and quads
  • Chest and upper back
  • Shoulders and arms

You now have an outstanding six-week fat burning training schedule that will raise your cardiovascular capabilities as well as increasing your strength levels in the major muscle groups.

Once you have completed the six weeks training schedule it is time to take a few days active rest and let your body fully recover. Find an activity you thoroughly enjoy and just have fun as your neuromuscular systems recuperate. After this self-imposed break is over it will be time to get back into the gym.

Once back into the HHRST mode start out at 70% HRmax and strength for the first week of just two sessions. The following week make sure to raise the intensity up to 75% cardio and strength for the three times you will work out.

Alternate the intensity levels between the twice a week and three times a week session. At the same time, you are alternating, you will also be raising and lowering the percentages each week until you are working out at between 80% and 85% in both categories.

Appendix A - Maximum heart rate (HRmax)

The most commonly method to determine your HRmax is to subtract your age from 220. However, this can be off as much as 10% of the true figure. Once you have determined your HRmax multiply this answer by 60-80% and you will have your exercise target heart range. The Karvonen formula is a better option to use:

  • Determine your HRmax with 220 minus your age
  • HRmax minus your resting heart rate (HRrest) equals your heart rate reserve (HRreserve)
  • Multiply your HRreserve by the percentage of exercise intensity, add your HRrest to this figure and you will have your target heart rate (HRtarget) for the training session

The most precise target heart rate formula is the one devised by Tanaka:

  • 207 minus 70% of your age will yield your maximum heart rate (HRmax)
  • HRmax minus your HRrest equals your HRreserve
  • HRreserve multiplied by 70% plus your HRrest will result in your HRtarget for your exercise period

The Tanaka formula is especially good for the older person. This formula has a correlation of 0.81 and a standard error of about 6.0% indicating a good degree of accuracy and reliability.

Appendix B - Borg scale 0-10

SCALE SEVERITY
0 No Breathlessness at all
1 Very Slight
2 Slight Breathlessness
3 Moderate
4 Some What Severe
5 Severe Breathlessness
6  
7 Very Severe Breathlessness
8  
9 Very Very Severe (Almost Maximum)
10 Maximum


Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • O'DELL, D. (2007) High heart rate strength training (HHRST). Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 39/ February), p. 1-3

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • O'DELL, D. (2007) High heart rate strength training (HHRST) [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni39a1.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Danny O`Dell is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning coach from the USA. He is the author of a number of training manuals including: The Ultimate Bench Press Manual, Wilderness Basics, Strength training Secrets, Composite training and Power up your Driving Muscles. Danny has published articles in national and international magazines describing the benefits of living the healthy fitness lifestyle.

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