EXCERPT: From “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing” by Dr. Phil Maffetone

The 180-Formula and Heart-Rate Monitoring

An important training companion to assist you in developing optimal endurance and better fat burning is a heart-rate monitor. This simple device is a valuable tool that not only guides your training but is part of an important assessment process, and can even be used in some competitive situations. A heart monitor is really a simple biofeedback device. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines biofeedback as “the process of providing visual or auditory evidence to a person of the status of body function so that you may exert control over that function.” Unfortunately, most people use their heart-rate monitors only to see how high their heart rate gets during a workout, or evaluate the morning, resting heart rate.

In the 1970s, I first measured heart rates as a student involved in a biofeedback research project. I observed and jotted down responses in human subjects to various physiological inputs, such as sounds, visual effects, and other physical stimulation, including exercise. The subjects’ reactions were evaluated by measuring temperature, perspiration, and heart rate. Through this research, it became evident that using the heart rate to objectively measure body function was simple, accurate, and useful, especially for athletes. I began using the heart rate to evaluate all exercising patients, and by the early 1980s developed a formula that anyone could use with their heart monitor to help build an aerobic base. This “180 Formula” enables athletes to find the ideal maximum aerobic heart rate in which to base all aerobic training….

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