Benefits of Using Heart Rate Controls

heart rate control elliptical cross trainer

Have you always wondered if you could improve your performance by using the heart rate control on your elliptical trainer? If you are like me, you want to get the most you can out of your limited exercise time.

However, many of us actually will plateau in our exercise benefits without even realizing it. When plateau happens, you may be working out for the same length of time, yet you aren't receiving any incremental benefits.

One way to ensure you keep making gains during your exercise sessions is to use the heart rate control on an elliptical trainer.

There are many benefits to using of the heart rate control on an elliptical trainer, which I will outline in this article.

The theory behind using heart rate controls is that by knowing how hard your heart is working, you can determine your degree of exertion while exercising. On many elliptical trainer models, the heart rate control resides in two stationary handgrips that require you to hold onto these handlebars while it takes the readout. Of course, a definite downside to this method is that you aren't able to use the moveable handlebars, which provide a fantastic upper body workout.

When you are exercising, it is important to pace yourself and be in the right ‘zone'. If you've ever taken an aerobics class, your instructor probably stopped the class to take a heart rate check and then encouraged you to consult a heart rate chart to determine if you were working at the correct capacity for your age range.

If your heart rate gets too high, your activity could become counter productive. If your heart rate is too low, you're missing out on substantial health benefits.

In her book “Heart Rate Training”, Sally Edwards identifies five zones that follow, will help you strive for cardiovascular fitness. The beauty of getting in the zone is that it helps people of all fitness levels, whether you are looking to shed a few pounds or training for an upcoming marathon.

The five zones are as follows:

Healthy Heart Zone: In this zone, you are working at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. For most people, this comfortable zone is reached by an easy walk. Aim for this zone if you are just starting out with your exercise routine. You'll receive great health benefits exercising in this zone like decreasing your blood pressure and cholesterol and lowering your body fat percentage.

The Temperate Zone: In this zone, you are working at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. You will receive the same benefits as zone number one, but the workout is more intense and burns more calories. Enter this zone by walking at a fast pace or with a slow jog.

The Aerobic Zone: You will enter this zone through a steady jog. Using 70-80% of your individual maximum heart rate, you will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This zone also increases the strength of your heart.

The Anaerobic Threshold Zone: You will achieve this zone through high intensity exercise such as a burning run. While in the anaerobic zone, you are working at 80-90% of your individual maximum heart rate.

The Redline Zone: This zone, often used in interval training, is equivalent to running full out at your maximum exertion possible. In the redline zone you are working at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate and therefore this zone should be used with caution because you could injure yourself if you sustain it for long periods.

Note: Maximum heart rate = 220 - your age.

Understanding these zones and using the heart rate controls on your elliptical trainer can help ensure you are achieving an effective workout. Several personal trainers that I know suggest that you improve your fitness levels by exercising in several different zones. Working in the different zones improves your cardiovascular fitness and helps you to vary your exercise regimen.

Now that you know the benefits of using heart rate controls on elliptical trainers, why not try it next time you are working out. Using the heart rate controls can help you understand how hard you are working and it is a great tool for challenging yourself! Good luck!


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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