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    Thanks for opening this thread, I have already learned things!

    I have a couple of questions regarding heart rate.

    First, I learned decades ago that you should subtract your age from 220 and treat the result as your maximum safe heart rate in beats per minute. If I Google it today, the same advice comes up. Is that scientifically valid, or just one of those things that everyone thinks they know that is actually incorrect?

    Secondly, how concerned should I be about getting my heart rate up close to that maximum? For instance, when I use my climbing machine for cardio, it gets up into the 80-85% range of that maximum, but for a long walk, or for some cardio workouts, it does not get that high. Am I missing out a lot of benefits because of that? Do I need to raise intensity to get the benefits, or should I stop worrying and just do stuff? I hope that question makes sense.


      CarbonaraTamara what a lovely can of worms this opens. Despite everything we know about the heart it is a difficult organ to study for obvious reasons. In addition, there are so many external factors that affect its operation that studies of twins have shown that even they don't share the same heart rate! So, while cardiovascular science is now beginning to map the heart rate better and understand how factors such as blood vessel physiology and rest/exercise ratio play a role we are still stuck with the one-size-fits-all, American Heart Association recommendation you learnt decades ago.

      We know that volume of blood pumped per stroke in the body is different for men than it is for women and also, fresh data, shows us that it is different for Asian people versus Europeans. We don't yet know enough to adjust this fresh knowledge into exercise recommendations with confidence because there are not enough cohort studies on the subject just yet.

      This leaves us with an interesting dilemma: to better understand the role heart rate (HR) plays in fitness and weightloss which are the two means it is being used to gauge exercise effectiveness. To understand this we need to first point out how the heart, lungs and blood circulatory system work as an integrated system. As our heartbeat goes up blood is pumped faster around the body carrying oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and the lungs have to work harder as a result. Because we lose weight only through exhaled CO2 molecules (yep, that is the only real mass we lose every time we exercise) elevated heart beat during exercise comes with fancy labels such as "fat-burning zone" and so on.

      The reality is a little more prosaic. Every time we exhale we lose a little bit of weight. If we increase the number of exhalations in a given period of time (like a workout program for instance) we have, indeed, increased the amount of mass we've lost in that time because we were highly active but the heart and lungs drop to a below average work rate afterwards in order to recover, so in terms of exhaled mass in a 24-hour period we may have the exact same result whether we exercise or not. Or at least the difference may be so small that it doesn't really matter that much.

      This indicates that what really matters is the overall amount of exhaled matter (for weightloss). If we want to, for example, lose weight, increasing our activity to a sustainable level over 24 hours is more important and realistic than exercising like crazy for an hour each day. Obviously here the amount of food intake we experience is also key. A person could walk ten hours a day non-stop but if they also eat two bags of sugar (as a wild and unrealistic example) in that same time period one will cancel the other out and they may not see any weightloss at all.

      Heart rate range however is a good indicator of other things. While we may all be different the one true leveler of fitness between differences such as sex, physiology and age is the recovery rate. Recovery basically means how quickly do the heart and lungs get back to a normal heartbeat and breaths-per-minute after intense exercise? Cardio activity that elevates your heartbeat is designed to train the myocardial muscle to be tolerant to a high number of strokes per minute and return to its normal beat range quickly. When we aim for peak fitness (athletes, boxers, etc) this is key because the know they have to engage in prolonged, high-performance physical activity and recover quickly in order to do so again. The ability of the heart muscle to take such loads is also a good indicator of endurance.

      To get back to your question more precisely, for the rest of us, the best indicator of fitness is how hard we breathe when exercising. Cardio workouts (and walking) that do not leave you out of breath show that your fitness level is good. From time to time you do want to chase that feeling where your lungs are laboring and your heart feels like it's about to leap out of your chest so you can increase your physical ability and level up. Counting heartbeats in that sense, for most of us, is counter-productive. There are many external factors that will affect performance each time. So the subjective feeling of breathing hard I mentioned above is the best indicator.

      I really hope this helps and has fully answered your question.


        Thank you for your answer Damer. Having done the workout now I could feel what you mean with the hamstrings having a different intensity from the workout than the rest of the body. I usually follow rest times quite loosely (I either get impatient or I get distracted, usually the latter) so I'll try to track the difference between me properly following the stated rest times and not.

        Does this mean we'll see more stretching workouts in the style of Hamstring Mobility in the future? Or changes to older stretching workouts?


          Zastria you're most welcome and I am really glad this helped. We tend to re-work older workouts either as something can be further refined to deliver greater value or as some of the underlying logic of the workout has changed because exercise science has provided more evidence. For now we are focusing, in this particular aspect of training, in creating more mobility workouts so a lot of what I said will start to surface in new workouts.


            I'll look forward to seeing the new workouts then


              Re: HR~ Thank you, CarbonaraTamara for asking the question (i have been curious about the same thing) and thank you, Damer for answering; fascinating!


                Damer, thank you very much for that detailed answer! It certainly does answer my question.


                  Only three more days left until I close this thread. If you have questions that have been burning at the back of your mind, now's the time to ask.


                    I've noticed that Darebee does incorporate weight training exercises (to best effect in The Gauntlet and Ironborn). Would the Darebee gang ever consider incorporating more complicated gym movements like the clean or squat?

                    I admit that's a bit of a 180 from Darebee's focus. Perhaps it would be possible for the weight training movements in the aforementioned programs to be given some love (ie explanation or videos)? Maybe an article?

                    Keep up the excellent work!


                      GentleOx thank you for bringing this up. Internally we've discussed just how far we should go each way, both in the bodyweight exercises and the equipment-needed ones. Everything we do is guided by our understanding of our audience needs. While we have Darebee followers who are truly outstanding in their capabilities at both ends of this spectrum and, understandably, they want to see more demanding workouts and programs that push them past their limits the majority are in the middle working to increase their capability and fitness and also, in quite a few cases, working with a restriction on their budget. We take all this into account.

                      This doesn't mean we actively ignore those who are further along their fitness journey or because they have space and a budget for specific equipment. But we do bring workouts that are aimed specifically for these groups, out at a slower pace. It is also harder and slower to adequately field test these before we release them because we have fewer people trying them out. Having said that, as we move forward we will have more and more of these so, to directly answer your question, definitely we shall have some that specifically address heavy lifting techniques and, on the other end of the scale, bodyweight activities such as really high box jumping and backflips. It will just take us a little longer to bring them out.


                        I've got another one, if that's okay? This one has to do with unequal strength in legs.

                        My observation is that a couple of days ago, when doing a workout that called for 20 lying-down side leg raises with each leg, my right leg could get through the 20 with no problem, getting a little bit tired towards the end but no stopping, for all five sets. My left leg, in contrast, struggled from the first set, and I had to rest it for a few seconds after about the first 10, then rest again after four more et cetera. I've noted previously that Right Leg does everything better than Left Leg, meaning that, for instance, Right Leg gets up a bit higher and feels a bit stronger when doing standing side leg raises. There's one exception to this, and that is balancing. When I balance on Left Leg, I can go longer and steadier than when I balance on Right Leg. I've noted that difference before, but never so dramatically as doing those lying side leg raises.

                        My questions about this are: Is this normal to have such an imbalance, or am I a freak? And secondly, should I do something specific to try to correct it, such as extra work for Left Leg?

                        As data points, I'm right handed, and I haven't noticed an imbalance between sides in upper body or core.


                          CarbonaraTamara I have exactly the same problem, only reversed. I'm also right handed and have not noticed a difference in the upper body sides.
                          Interesting question!


                            CarbonaraTamara I have the same thing and once asked my sports doctor about it (I also thought it would be weird), and he said it's totally normal; we al have a 'standing leg' which is stronger and steadier, and we have a 'using leg' with which we kick a ball or something.


                              CarbonaraTamara that is also a great question and it is frequently left unasked so I am glad you brought it up. NancyTree's sports doctor's explanation is correct if somewhat pithy so you are most definitely not a freak. There is a longer version to this which I will give here, taking the opportunity of the AMA, to add to our general knowledge.

                              We all have a dominant side. If we are right-handed this means our right arm is stronger and our right leg is also stronger. When we walk we visually constantly adjust subconsciously in a manner that is very similar to how we make constant small adjustments to the steering wheel when we drive in what appear to be straight parts of road. The dominant side becomes apparent when we walk in a jungle or the dessert where there are no visual landmarks to guide us we make no adjustments. Without those landmarks our dominant side takes steps that are slightly longer than the non-dominant one. The effect is exactly the same as if we are in a paddle boat with two people and one of them is working at a faster rate than the other: we end up going round in circles even though we think we have walked in a straight line.

                              The dominant side has root in initial neural connections and this "sidedness" has led to the theory of lateralization of cognitive functions which, in the popular press, is depicted as people having a "left or right brain dominance". Scientifically this is untrue and neuroscience has proved this repeatedly with repeated studies of subjects where the physical dominance was not reflective of cognitive dominance. An awesome study and explanation of lateralization and its effects can be found here.

                              Where brain lateralization comes into its own and naturally leads to the core of your question is when we examine physical differences and how the brain handles the body. One such study centered around musicians and how they responded can be found here. Basically the brain's neural network is spread throughout the body. Strength, agility and balance are the result of A. Physical substrate traits (that's the muscles, tendons and ligaments and we are talking about strength, flexibility and agility) B. The complex network of neurons that activate the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

                              People who have a 'favorite' side use it more frequently because they find it easier to control it. As a result that side grows stronger and more dexterous not just because the muscles get stronger but because the strength of the connection between neurons that control those muscles is stronger too. The phenomenon which you experience is the result of that exactly. If you have a favorite leg you use to kick with, step up first with, raise on its own first etc, then the other leg becomes the supporting leg and helps maintain balance. When you switch legs the stronger leg may be physically stronger but the muscles, tendons and ligaments are not used to maintaining balance and the neurons in them are not used to processing balance signals. A period of re-adjustment is needed.

                              The fact that training both sides of the body produces greater neural development in the brain and the network of neurons that send back sensory input to the brain is one of the reasons Darebee workouts target both sides of the body equally. Over time, we've found, it delivers greater physical control, better results in terms of fitness, better awareness of how the body moves and how to use it better plus, we know from studies, that there are cognitive gains in terms of neuroplasticity as the brain is forced to grow fresh network connections. This helps improve attention and focus. A study on school-age children was done on this and can be found here.

                              I hope I covered your question here but do not hesitate to let me know if you would like me to clarify anything further.


                                Damer thanks for your detailed information! It makes totally sense! 😊