Round 3 Hybrid, Day 5: Legs & Back; ARX & Matters of the Heart


A few days back I mentioned that I was considering purchasing a heart rate monitor. Since I’m now 49 years old and I’ve been engaging in taxing exercises with P90X and Insanity, it seems like a prudent idea. Well for those who’ve since been sitting on the edge of their seats wondering if I did, what I purchased and when it arrived, you can relax: I bought one a few days ago and it arrived yesterday. And, yes, I decided to purchase the Polar FT7 on Amazon.com for $69.99, including shipping.

Even though my motivation to purchase was to get a sense of whether or not I’m overtaxing myself pushing through Insanity workouts, I was so excited to have a new toy that I tried it out for yesterday’s Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X routines.

The FT7 comes with a 1/4 inch thick Getting Started Guide with 14 pages of very basic instructions. The booklet is so thick because it’s printed in 11 different languages. The complete Polar FT User Manual is available on Polar’s web site as a download. After a few minutes setting the monitor up by entering my preferred language, units (metric or imperial), the date, time, my weight, height, and birth date and sex, I was ready to go.

I pressed “play” and began recording my heart rate as I started warming up in the Legs & Back routine. Bear with me, gentle reader, because I’m below a novice with very little knowledge about the heart rate tracking stuff. Anyway, after I had entered all the set up dats in the heart rate monitor, it informed me that my “Max” Heart Rate (90%) was 154 BPM. This number seems consistent with the Fox and Haskell chart available on Wikipedia. Soon after I began the actual Legs & Back exercises–during Calf Raise Squats, to be specific–I started to hear a beeping sound. Guess what? I was already over my “Max” heart rate! Okaaaay….. Is this a problem? I’ve been doing Legs & Back in a similar fashion for 8 months now. What the heck is it gonna tell me when I start monitoring Insanity workouts?

So naturally, since this little watch thing is yelling at me, I take small breaks as needed between exercises, waiting for my heart rate to drop back to the 130s. Then I started paying attention and writing down my heart rate for each exercise where I exceed the Max Rate. And here they are:

  • Reverse Grip Chinups: 165 BPM
  • Wide Front Pull Ups: 159 
  • Alternating Side Lunge: 157
  • Closed Grip Overhand Pull Ups: 160, in Round 1, 165 in Round 2
  • Deadlift Squat: 157, and
  • 80/20 Cyber Speed Squat: 156 

My overall Stats for the entire workout (including Ab Ripper X) were:

Total Time:  87 minutes
Calories:  952
Avg Heart Rate: 131
Max Heart Rate:  167
Time in fat burning zone: 20 minutes
Time in fitness zone: 67 minutes

As I write this, I can honestly say I have no idea how to interpret this information. What is optimal? What is dangerous? I will find out. I’m interested in your experience, if you don’t mind sharing.

With yesterday’s Legs & Back, I was able to keep all my leg-related reps and weights the same as in week 12 of Round 2. I may increase some of the weights next week. As for Pull Ups, I was able to pretty much keep up with my prior performance. I managed to do 110 cumulative, unassisted pull ups, versus my all time high of 114 in week 12 of Round 2. Good stuff.

Tennis tomorrow. After which I’ll know for sure the status of my shoulder.

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