One of my clients has started wearing a heart rate monitor during his workouts recently to make sure he is working as hard as he needs to – his goal is fat loss and to recapture some of the health lost during the last 20 years of smoking. What is more interesting than the information the monitor reveals are the views of the client.
After a particularly grueling super set the monitor revealed a heart rate of 170 BPM. He was gasping for air, pouring sweat and looked extremely tired. Resting before starting the next set, he said “a month ago I thought that I would have died if I ever got my heart rate higher than 150 BPM”. I laughed because I thought he was kidding but he wasn’t. He had never in his life worked with that kind of intensity and really did think that he was an ideal candidate for a heart attack if he pushed himself that hard.
He didn’t die. In fact, 170 is tough for him, but he’s able to work that hard fairly consistently – we’ll get his heart rate up to 170 5 or 6 times during the high intensity intervals we’re doing. His body fat is dropping, his energy is increasing and his posture and muscle mass are improving.
The irony of the entire thing is that his lack of intensity was shortening his life. Because he didn’t get his heart rate up, he had gained a lot of body fat, had very poor cardiovascular health and had basically given up doing anything that was unpleasant. He was well on his way to an early grave and, as a husband and father of two, setting his family up for unnecessary hardships when his life ended prematurely.
If you need to reduce your body fat and get your life back, get medical clearance, go to the gym and work with as much intensity as you can handle, and then push a little further.