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Heart Rate Training

Heart rate training for high school athletes is a lot easier now than ever before. This is due to the number of athletes that have Apple I-watches and similar devices. These devices keep track of their heart rate while exercising.  

How would a high school athlete train using a heart rate monitor?

To answer this question the athlete needs to understand what they are hoping to get out of the training session.  You can’t walk around in top conditioning shape year around.  This is the reason why the Olympics happen every four years. Why the NFL, MLB, NHL, and every other professional athlete organization have seasons.  UFC athletes who probably have some of the top tier conditioning levels compete 3-4x a year.  This schedule allows an athlete to “ramp” up for in-season training.  

Out of Season

If an athlete is out of season, the recommendation is to work on the aerobic base.  This is low intensity training with a lower heart rate.  This training is typically completed at a heart rate of 135-150 beats per minute.  These training sessions need to take 30-90 minutes to have the best effect.  

What kind of workouts can you utilize in these “low intensity” workouts?

The author’s favorite low intensity workout is pulling sleds with a belt attached to his waist and walking 30-45 minutes.

Why sled work?

This workout builds aerobic capacity. Also, at the same time will work on building strong glutes, low back and hamstrings – aka the posterior chain.  In effect this workout is doing two things:

  1. building the weakest area for a lot of high school athletes, the posterior chain
  2. building up athletes general endurance.  

Other low intensity workouts could be using an assault bike, a concept 2 rower, bike erg, or ski erg. These machines with the updated software allow a second by second update of the heart rate on the screens. These screens are great to ensure compliance with the desired heart rate training.  

The above mentioned machines can be rotated on a 10 minute cycle for a 30 or 40 minute workout. Or an athlete can train on one machine continuously.  

Contact sport athletes

For athletes that play contact sports I like mixing in weighted carries(think sandbags, cheese curds, kettlebells, db’s). This works on building up the athletes upper back, along with building their conditioning base. 

As athletes progress into competition season, the workouts need to transition. From building a base to getting “in shape” for the season.  Or from a lower heart rate and sustained effort to high heart rates and shorter durations.    

In season or moving towards competition phase

These types of higher intensity workouts can be repeated effort work. One example, a 10-30 calorie assault bike workout every 5:00 for 5 cycles or 25:00 minutes.  This type of workout will get significantly harder after a round or two. 

Athletes could do sustained effort or for time workouts that are “shorter in duration”. 5-12 minutes but include a series of exercises such as two exercises coupled together or three exercises coupled together.  For example, 21-15-9 repetitions of each exercise – assault bike calories and burpee box jumps.  

This type of workout can be repeated later in the preparation phase to “re test” and see progress.  

A heart rate monitor is a tool for high school athletes but can be abused or misused. If misused the training would a negative effect on the athlete.  The top three criteria the author always considers when starting a training program:

1. The athlete’s background

2. General level of physical preparedness(GPP)

3. Timeline required to achieve goals with the athlete. 

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OC Sports Performance is Bend, Oregon’s premier athletic training facility.  Located in Bend, Oregon we have been training youth athletes in Central Oregon for 12+ years.

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