When it comes to exercise, we can talk about the quantity of physical activity with how far we walked, how long we ran, how many hours we spent at the gym, or even how hard a class was. This is all very good information. However, none of these descriptions give any indication of the quality of the movement associated.

Heart rate is a measure of quality.

You can think of heart rate like the tachometer on a car. The speedometer shows how fast you are going, but tachometer shows how hard the engine is actually working, no matter what the speed. Here is an example:


When the car starts and the accelerator is pressed, the car is going nowhere as indicated by the speedometer on the left. However, the tachometer on the right shows that the engine is working very hard. When the car does begin to move, the tachometer is always showing how hard the engine is working regardless of the speed.

Think of your heart as the engine. A cardio monitor shows how hard the “engine”, or your heart, is working by showing you your heart rate. The zones help you understand the benefit of working in that zone. It really is that simple to explain.

It is critical that we make things relevant to our clients when trying to explain why and how something is important to them (or at least should be important to them). If they understand the value of what you present to them and how it will help them reach their goals, be it a training routine, tool, or technology, it will build trust and establish you as the professional that you are.

When first introducing the concept of heart rate based training, it is important to teach your clients the WHY they should use it. We know the physiology and benefits of heart rate based training at a level that is appropriate for a professional trainer/coach. The job for trainer then is to be able to convey this information in an approachable and non-intimidating way, yet with enough information that clearly establishes the value.