Heart Zones FIT Points
Thanks to Ken Cooper, MD, writing the paradigm-shifting book Aerobics almost fifty years ago, the world has taken a giant step forward by following his exercise prescription of counting “aerobic points”. He carefully designed a new generation of exercise and sparked a revolution in fitness that was based on important principles, including self-testing, measurement tools to manage your workouts, and a quantification method to reward exercise outcomes – the Aerobic Point System.
I was an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley’s Physical Education department in 1968 when Cooper, then a young Air Force officer and physician, came to campus and lectured on the principles of aerobic training. Those same principles have stayed with me and allowed me to better appreciate what’s needed for high performance training and racing.
The Heart Zones Training Point system is truly one of the first high performance athlete, coach and trainer systems that has allowed to quantify workload. This is a pivotal step which can take you to an entirely new level of training and performing.
Training load is the quantity of exercise stress as measured by the LIFT formula of frequency, intensity and time (or duration) equals load. If you were to multiply these three parameters of an exercise bout, you would have a measurement of total workload called dosage. Now, with the Heart Zones Training Point system, there is a way to calculate these three variables.
The formula is as follows:
LOAD = Intensity x Frequency x Time
The missing piece in this formula which has prevented the measurement of exercise workload and eluded and frustrated us for all of these years is the “I” for intensity. A heart rate monitor measures exercise intensity. Only now, with the use of this piece of fitness hardware, can we measure workload.
The Heart Zones Training Point system uses the quantification of frequency as number of workouts per week, intensity as measured by numerical heart zones, and me as the amount of me in each zone to determine daily, weekly, and monthly points.
The first step to determine your Heart Zones Training points is to use heart zones. If you spend twenty minutes a day in zone three that work- out is valued at 60 points which is 20 x 3. If you did that workout for five days, which meets the ACSM Guidelines for minimum exercise, you’d discover that you’d earn 450 points, the minimum number of points needed to obtain the minimum exercise requirement. What’s the maximum number of points? What’s a healthy number of points? What’s the ideal number of points? What’s the best number of points you need to set a PR (personal record) in a race?
Here’s the incredible news. We can now, using the Heart Zones Training Point System and the Variability Index or, V.I., predict when you will be at your peak performance level. You can now know when you are training towards the point of injury or over-training or when you are at high probability for a breakdown – mental or physical. That’s because each person has an individual training load threshold or a quantifiable amount of exercise that they can sustain which allows them to achieve peak performance.
If you are wondering how, the answer is that your training load threshold is a certain range or number of Heart Zone Training points. You may have a threshold of 4,000 points per week and someone else may have a workload threshold of 1,000 points. It doesn’t mean you’re a better athlete, faster, or fitter but that your tolerance of exercise quantity is higher than mine. I may have a more sensitive immune system than yours or you may have an injury that, after a certain amount of stress, just says it’s enough or you will re-injure yourself. The workload threshold for exercise varies widely among individual athletes. It’s your responsibility to train at different weekly point levels to determine just how much, how hard, how long you can exercise to reach high performance and your goals.