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Much Like A Stop Sign, It's Not a Suggestion

Dr. Rick Kattouf II

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Working out smart, training smart and working out in the proper heart rate zones is one of the most misunderstood concepts of training, why? Well, there are many reasons. First off, heart rate training done right is not a simple, black-and-white concept. It's not something someone just picks up by reading an article, a book or sitting in a weekend course. Understanding heart rate takes a very in-depth understanding of human physiology. In addition, it’s the ability to apply these concepts to each individual’s specific needs and goals. Also, working out smart and working out by the right heart rate zones takes time and patience; something, unfortunately, very few individuals are willing to focus on (they want overnight results). In addition, when coaching and training by heart rate, this takes a ton of work, effort, energy, time and physiology knowledge. It’s a lot easier for a coach or trainer to say ‘go hard, or go easy or go at a tempo effort’; as opposed to prescribing exact HR zones, analyzing HR zones, providing feedback on HR zones, adjusting workouts and training based on HR data, etc.


Always remember, working out hard is easy. But working out smart takes time, effort, energy, focus, dedication and commitment. These are two completely different animals. On the surface, sure, working out hard almost seems like a positive. But, all too often, working out hard results in working out at far too high of a heart rate. And while the immediate feedback of a "hard workout" may feel good and satisfy our subconscious, it's just another step down the self-sabotage pathway.


There is absolutely no disputing heart rate training; it's our heart we are talking about. How can training our heart smart and correctly not be a good thing? It's always a good thing. Whether the goal iss to lose 100+ pounds of body fat, become an elite athlete or somewhere in between, working out smart and working out in the right heart rate zones is the key to success.


When individuals dismiss heart rate training or say it doesn't work, it simply because they are not knowledgeable in human physiology; and they do not understand the physiology behind heart rate training. Therefore, the easy way out is to simply dismiss it as if it doesn't work. But, heart rate training works every time, 100% of the time when it's followed 100% of the time. The only time heart rate training doesn't work is when it's not implemented properly. So, if anyone ever says to you that training by heart rate doesn't work, it is simply because they do not have the human physiology knowledge to teach, educate and coach on the topic.


Always keep in mind, when it comes to our workouts, nothing tells us, physiologically, what is going on the body except heart rate. Perceived effort does not tell us, physiologically, what is happening with our body. Speed/pace does not tell us, physiologically, what's happening with the body. Power does not tell us, physiologically what is happening with the body. METS do not tell us, physiologically, what is happening with the body. In no way does this mean that these measures above are not important, because they are. The point is that none of these measures tell us, physiologically, what is happening with the body. Heart rate is the only measure that tells us, physiologically, what is happening with the body.


You will here people that are completely uninformed about human physiology and heart rate training say things like, "heart rate training doesn't work; my heart rates seems to be different day to day and week to week." The funny thing is that this response is the exact reason why heart rate does work every single time. Exactly, heart rate is always changing because many factors affect heart rate such as sleep, hydration, nutrition, temperature, humidity, fatigue, stress, etc.


As mentioned above, working out smart and working out in the right heart rate zones takes time, effort, energy, focus, dedication and commitment. And, it takes another very important component in that is this… Check your athletic ego at the door. This is as important as any when it comes to proper heart rate training. If someone is working out, they have an athletic ego and that's a good thing. But all too often, individuals’ perception of their fitness is higher than what their current fitness reality truly is. For example, a great cardiologist and endurance athlete said, "Just because someone is overweight/obese and finishes a marathon, does not mean they are fit. It simply means, well, they are overweight and they finished a marathon."


When an individual starts to work out smart and train by heart rate, it can be a punch to the gut and a bruise to the ego. Maybe this individual has completed a marathon, Ironman triathlon or simply just works out a lot and they think they are pretty fit. And then, when they start to work out by heart rate, they can't believe how slow of an effort they have to put forth in order to maintain the prescribed heart rate.


This can be the make it or break it point for an individual in terms of which path they're going to take; this is a true fork in the road. Are they going to take the smart path, check their ego at the door and set their body up for great success by choosing the heart rate training path? Or, are they going to take the "I want to satisfy my subconscious" path and go the other direction? Would they rather just keep training hard, which is easy of course as mentioned above, or, are they ready to put forth the time, effort, energy, focus and dedication to work out smart?


Working out in the right heart rate zones is much like a stop sign; it's not a suggestion. If someone chooses to blow through a stop sign, they are rolling the dice. Sure, they may be able to get away with this once or twice, but this is going to end up being catastrophic as they continue to roll the dice and blow through the stop sign. The same holds true with heart rate training. Sure, an individual may get away with their hard training and high heart rate workouts for a time, but, much like blowing through a stop sign, this will also end up being catastrophic.


 Let's look at an individual who has body fat loss and body transformation goals. When they are ready to make their lifestyle changes, they go at it hard with their workouts; in their mind, the harder the better. This is satisfying that subconscious and it feels good to work out hard. They feel that the harder they work out, the more calories they will burn and that body fat will just fly off. But, as they quickly realize, as the weeks and months progress, not only did they not lose any weight or body fat, despite the super-high intensity workouts they've been doing, but, they have actually noticed an increase in body weight! How can they work out this much in this hard and actually gain weight? (Weight Gain During high Volume Training? How To Avoid The 'Endurance 15') Well, nutrition has a huge part in this as well, but a big reason this individual is not seeing results is because of not working out smart, not following the proper heart rate zones and working out at too high of a heart rate zone.


Heart rate training, done right, is nothing shy of amazing and mind blowing in terms of results that individuals can achieve. And these results come in many different flavors such as life-changing body transformation, exceptional athletic performance, higher energy levels, less fatigue, never feeling over-trained, faster recovery, etc. One of the main goals of working out smart is to increase efficiency. And efficiency is this; teaching the body to go longer, harder, faster, more repetitions before fatigue. Bottom line is this; we are training the heart to beat as slow as possible and the same time move the body as fast as possible. Think about this, this is incredible. And there is no other way to do this right except by working out smart and working out in the right heart rate zones.


Whether you run or not, it’s a great example to show how increases in efficiency can occur with proper heart rate training. When we talk about heart rate zones, we break them down into zones 1-6. And, let's say an individual is just starting to work out smart and workout by heart rate. And the goal the workout is to stay within heart rate zone 1 for a total distance of 5 miles. And this individual averaged 10:00 per mile and executed properly and stayed within heart rate zone 1 the entire time. In time, as this individual continues to check their athletic ego at the door and follow the prescribed heart rates, they will find themselves running this same distance at the same or lower heart rate with drastically different results. This pace per mile will become 9:45, 9:30, 9:15, 8:45, 8:30, etc. Think about this; this individual is now running 90 seconds faster per mile at the same or lower heart rate, unbelievable! This is the true sign of fitness and this is the true sign of improving efficiency. This is absolutely amazing. And I will promise you this, when you start to become more efficient, you will find yourself at a higher fitness level than you ever imagined possible.


During your 9Round workouts and all of your cardiovascular workouts, let's start to make some changes. Let's start to work out smart and work out in the proper heart rate zones, no matter how easy or slow the effort may be. If you find that the effort is very easy and very slow in the beginning in order for you to maintain the prescribed heart rate zones, that's perfectly fine. This is just where we have to face our "current fitness reality" and realize we are not as fit and efficient as maybe we thought we were. And that is ok. Remember, working out smart takes time, effort, energy, focus, discipline and commitment.


 If you are ready to get the biggest return possible on your investment workout time and if you are ready to check your athletic ego at the door, buckle in tight because it is going to be a wild, amazing and exciting ride!


Dr. Rick Kattouf II

2x Best-Selling Author

Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year




2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert Dr. Rick Kattouf has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite™ Trainers of the Year. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf, Inc., CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Nutrition LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury Fitness™ workout app, 9Round Nutrition Coach Sports Nutrition Specialist, ITCA Triathlon Coach, MMA Conditioning Coach, Food Psychology Coach, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, Sports Nutrition Consultant, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker.