20.08.2015 15:18
Day 80: Workload and exertion assessment. Part I

Today we start a miniseries of posts on assessing workload and exertion. First we will talk about inner workload parameters (perceived exertion and heart rate), then we will talk about outer factors (training intensity and training volume). We think that it is important to understand before you are able to create your own training programmes.

Generally speaking, workload level is a complex value that combines such factors as sets, repetitions, number of exercises for a muscle group, exercise tempo, rest between sets.

Borg scale

Borg perceived exertion scale of one the tools to assess workload and exertion. It is based on subjective perception of workload.

The original scale ranges from 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (maximum exertion). The seemingly odd range of 6-20 is to follow the general heart rate of a healthy adult by multiplying by 10. For instance, a perceived exertion of 12 would be expected to coincide with a heart rate of roughly 120 beats per minute:

[pic here]

6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light (7.5)
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion

While assessing your condition you have to pay attention to all factors affecting exertion, neither leaving them out nor overemphasising them (for example heavy breathing or muscle aches).

If we apply the Borg scale to our programme, we suggest that the workload should be at the range between 13 and 15 (or 3 and 4 for the modified scale), you should feel it but not too much. If it easier than that then progress will slow down, if it heavier than you will not be able to recover in 24 hours.

Calculating optimal heart rate

There are more scientific, physiological ways to define workload. Directly it is done by measuring oxygen consumption during exercise, either in absolute values in litres per minute (l/min) or in relative values, either in percents of maximal consumption or in millilitres per kilogramme per minute (ml*kg/min).

One the most convenient ways is measuring heart rate (HR). It is usually assumed that the higher the heart rate the higher the workload.

There are many formulas on the Internet how to calculate optimal heart rates but we have not had time to study them all in detail so the following piece of information is provided as is. (mtbrDot: There are no universal formulas for calculating your Maximum heart Rate (MHR), they are all wrong. This value is too variable for humans so it is possible to find out only an approximate number and only through a stress test.)

For men (by Tanaka):

Maximum exercise HR (MEHR): 208 - 0.7 * Age
Strength training HR: 80% of MEHR
Endurance/interval training HR: 75% of MEHR
Weight loss HR: 65% of MEHR
Warmup HR: 55% of MEHR

(для интервальных тренировок 75%? это больничные значения, во время интервалов пульс наоборот разгоняется до больших величин, как раз под 100% MEHR).

"Age-predicted maximal heart rate revisited"
Hirofumi Tanaka, PhD, Kevin D. Monahan, MS and Douglas R. Seals, PhD)

For women (bt Martha Gulati):

Maximum exercise HR (MEHR): 206 - 0.88 * Age
Strength training HR: 80% of MEHR
Endurance/interval training HR: 75% of MEHR
Weight loss HR: 65% of MEHR
Warmup HR: 55% of MEHR

"Heart Rate Response to Exercise Stress Testing in Asymptomatic Women. The St. James Women Take Heart Project"
Martha Gulati MD, MS, Leslee J. Shaw PhD, Ronald A. Thisted PhD, Henry R. Black MD, C. Noel Bairey Merz MD, and Morton F. Arnsdorf MD
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