Using Music To Keep Your Exercise Intensity High

If you are doing plenty of cardio but not seeing results, you might be falling into a trap that many others are caught in.  The trap is lack of proper intensity, and my experience has shown that a huge number of people lack the high intensity needed to see the results they desire.  If you are doing a form of cardio, where you can unknowingly slow down as you daydream and solve the world’s problems, I suggest you utilize the beat of music to help keep your pace.

The beauty of a treadmill is that once you set the belt to the proper speed and incline, you have the choice of keeping the pace or falling off.  The motor on the treadmill will keep you locked in, so no matter where your mind goes you are forced to keep up. But this will not be the case with a bike, elliptical, stepper, walking, jogging, rowing, or swimming.  You are left to stay focused on your pace and muster up the motivation to keep it high.

Often, the music you listen to can make a huge difference on your intensity.  Obviously, the music genres you enjoy will make it a little more pleasurable, but another way to tap into the musical motivation is to look at the beats per minute (BPM) a song offers.  Music is also measured in BPM, and a song with 160 BPM, might equate to a 10 minute mile pace while jogging, and this may put your heart in it’s targeted BPM.

So given your cardio of choice, you need to figure out the necessary BPM, or tempo, of the music to give you the targeted BPM for your heart.  Once you know this, there are playlists that you can make yourself, or buy, with all the songs having your targeted tempo.  If you stay in rhythm with the music, your heart will also stay in rhythm, and you will maintain the proper intensity.  This is a great way to keep focused, and you can mix various tempos to create an interval type workout if you wish.

The critical component is determining your proper target heart rate, and most people still do it incorrectly.  Let me give you the formula that I prefer, it is call the Karvonen Method.

1.  Determine your pulse rate at rest for one minute.

2.  Subtract this number from 220, and this will be your maximum pulse rate.

3.  Subtract your resting pulse rate from your maximum pulse rate.  This is called your heart rate reserve (HRR).

4.  Multiply your HRR by your intensity level range.  60-70% is lower intensity, 70-80% is moderate, and 80-90% is higher intensity.

5.  Add your resting pulse rate to each of the 2 numbers (the low end and high end of your intensity range) you attained in step 4, and this will be your target heart rate for exercise.

The above method of determining your heart rate is accurate for those taking beta-blockers for high blood pressure, which affect heart rate.  And remember, as your conditioning improves and your resting heart rate drops, you might need to adjust your intensity.  So periodically checking your resting heart rate is good idea.


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