Follow Your Heart: Workout by Heart Rate, Maximize Results!

Follow Your Heart

Workout by Heart Rate, Maximize Results


by Dr. Rick Kattouf II and Dr. Richard Vest III


Heart rate training is the ultimate key to success. Success for what you may ask? Well, whether your goal is to lose 100+ pounds of body fat, improve as a professional/elite athlete or somewhere in between, working out/training/racing by heart rate is the key to unlock the door to success.


Why is heart rate training not used more often? Why do so many athletes and coaches seem to shrug off heart rate training? Why does every coach & athlete not embrace HR Training? It's simple; it's due to a lack of detailed understanding and knowledge in the area of human physiology and how to apply and implement it. Heart rate training takes a great amount of knowledge, time, effort and energy. It is not something that someone learns in-depth by taking online course or weekend course. In addition, for a coach to properly apply the precision of heart rate training, not only does it take an in-depth knowledge base and understanding, but it takes a tone of time, effort, energy and patience. It's a lot easier for a coach to simply tell an athlete, "Just go easy/moderate/hard" as compared to providing exact parameters in terms of heart rate for the athlete to follow. This also requires a lot of follow-up and feedback from the coach, as they have to be able to properly analyze the heart rate data and give feedback to the athlete.


For similar reasons, athletes tend to reject heart rate training as well. Often times, an athlete would rather work out more/harder as opposed to working out smarter. (It is easy to workout hard, but it takes time, effort, energy, focus, patience and discipline to workout smart). The payoff is huge when one properly trains by heart rate. Often times you get a knee-jerk reaction from coaches and athletes such as, "heart rate training doesn't work!" Knee-jerk reactions like this simply stem from not having a complete and detailed understanding in the area of human physiology, heart rate and its application and implementation. Because here is a guarantee; heart rate training works 100% of the time when it's properly implemented, applied and followed 100% of the time. That's a pretty good guarantee.


Factors That Affect Heart Rate

It's very common for athletes and coaches to want to follow parameters such as power, pace and perceived effort. While there is value of course in these, according to Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist, Richard N Vest III, M.D., "only following pace, power and perceived effort is very shortsighted because we are ignoring the most important factors that affect heart rate.” Much like an airplane pilot needing to know factors such as heat, humidity, altitude, etc.; because these factors will affect the engine, take off, etc., the same holds true for the human body. As Dr. Vest III mentions, heat, humidity, altitude, sleep, stress, etc., all affect heart rate even at the exact same pace. Even though pace/power may be the same, VO2 max will change. Pace/power does not determine exertion because oxygen consumption is different in different conditions. Bottom line is this, if an athlete thinks that they are going to hit the same pace/power in 100° temperatures as they do in 50° temperatures, this is shortsighted because they are ignoring the only number that tells us, physiologically, what the body is doing and that is heart rate.



In addition to proper heart rate training helping to improve performance, it can also help significantly assist in improving one's recovery. According to Dr. Richard Vest III, working out more/harder and not smarter (proper heart rate training) can put a big oxidative stress on the body and this can inhibit recovery. Just like pace does not determine exertion, the same holds true for recovery. How we feel does not determine our recovery, rather, heart rate will tell us exactly how we are recovering. Too much working out/training/racing combined with too much intensity (too high of a HR) will impede recovery. Therefore, when we commit to recovery by working out and racing smarter by following the proper heart rate zones, recovery will be enhanced which will lead to improved performance.


Cardiology & Physiology 101

Richard Vest III, M.D. mentions that oxidative stress can occur in both aerobic and anaerobic states. During anaerobic metabolism, lactic acid and hydrogen ions will damage the muscles and physiologically, this is not what we were designed to do. From an athletic performance perspective, this can result in an athlete stopping completely, acidosis, acid in the blood, lactic acid in the muscles and the inability to metabolize oxygen. Working out in the proper heart rate zones of course can prevent this from occurring. Dr. Vest III says that heart rate drift can and will occur and if we cross the anaerobic threshold to early in a workout or race, the body cannot perform and we are going to get crushed. Properly following heart rate will enable an athlete to cross these barriers at the appropriate time and maximize their performance no matter what the conditions.


Body Composition

Nutrition and body composition cannot be ignored because these are two additional factors that greatly affect heart rate. There are many marathon runners and Ironman triathletes that are overweight and obese. Despite this, you will hear these athletes say things such as, "I'm healthy because I can finish a marathon/Ironman." Dr. Vest III says, "just because an overweight/obese individual finishes a marathon/Ironman, this does not mean they're healthy; it just means, well, they are overweight and they finished a marathon/Ironman.” Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist, Richard Vest III, M.D. mentions that it is great to be active course, but body composition must be addressed in order to avoid potential health issues directly associate with being overweight and obese. Oxidative stress can increase with obesity along with the production of free radicals, which can increase inflammation. And again, even more confirmation as to why working out in the proper heart rate zones is key. In addition, a higher body fat percentage can lead to increased levels of cortisol, higher blood glucose, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, etc., all that can adversely affect heart rate, which in turn affects performance and recovery.


Cardiologist Professional Perspective

Dr. Vest III treats conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation, Ventricular Tachycardia, Supraventricular Tachycardia, etc., and more and research is showing the potential negative effects of endurance sports. Are these negative effects due to anaerobic metabolism? Working out at too-high of a heart rate for too long a duration is a set up for the creation of oxidative stress and free radicals which will then bring about negative physiological effects. Does the avoidance of higher heart rates have a benefit? We do not know for sure because all we have is associations. For example, if you take 10,000 individuals and have them perform regular exercise and 10,000 individuals train for marathons, the result is that the marathon group is at a higher risk for Atrial Fibrillation. And again, this is not proven causation, just association.


Cardiologist Personal Perspective

Prior to working with Dr. Rick Kattouf II and TeamKattouf® and implementing HR Training, Dr. Vest III ran 2 marathons. He ran these on feel and perceived effort and ran between 3:29:53-3:33. He found he was not able to push much beyond mile 20 and in his 2nd marathon; Dr. Vest III was at risk of not finishing, experienced tunnel vision and almost passed out. In 2012, Richard Vest III, M.D. joined TeamKattouf® and started strict HR Training as instructed by Dr. Rick. The first 6 months were tough as Dr. Vest III found himself having to run much slower than he was accustomed to in order to hit the Rx’d heart rates. It took a good 8-10 months (this goes back to the time, effort, energy, focus, dedication and patience) for him to really start seeing positive results. In his words, “I started to notice that I was running a lot faster at the same or lower heart rates and in addition, I lost 5-7 pounds of body fat." 90% of Richard’s training was done in heart rate zones 1 & 2. His next 3 marathons resulted in a 3:11, 3:05 and 3:00:35. At the 2015 Boston Marathon, Dr. Vest III only kept 1 number on his watch, Heart Rate. That is the only number he looked at for 26.2 miles; he never looked at his time or pace. And he crossed the finish line in a personal best of, 3:00:24. As you can imagine, sub-3:00 was the next goal. In October 2015, this goal came to fruition and once again, only following heart rate, and not even paying attention to the time/pace, Richard Vest III, M.D. crossed the finish line in 2:58:13. Proper heart rate training for Dr. Vest III not only allowed him to improve greatly on his overall marathon times, but it led a leaner & lighter physique, strong closing final 10k of each marathon, reduced injuries and not feeling crushed after training and racing.


Are you ready to take your performance, recovery and body composition to an entirely new level? If so, heart rate training is your key success. It works each and every time. The only time HR Training does not work is when its not applied and implemented. Are you ready to implement?


Workout Smart, Eat Right, Get Results®!


Rick Kattouf II, O.D. is a 2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert and has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite® Trainers of the Year. Rick is a Sports Nutrition Specialist, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Master Personal Trainer & Triathlon Coach. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune,,, FIGHT! Magazine, Florida Cycling Magazine and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Inc, CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Nutrition LLC, CEO/Founder of Virtual Gym LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf® Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury® Nutrition Supplement, 5-Round Fury Fitness® workout app, Creator of Coach2CEO, Creator of Fuel Keeper®, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Dr. Rick has personally coached individuals in 30+ states and 10+ countries.

Richard N. Vest III, MD, FHRS, graduated from University of Alabama School of Medicine in 2003. He completed Internal Medicine Residency at Duke University, Cardiology Fellowship at Emory University, and Electrophysiology Fellowship at Medical Univ. of SC.  He has an active clinical practice and works with Birmingham Heart Clinic in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Vest is board certified in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society.  Dr. Vest remains active with his weekly workout schedule that includes strength training and running. Dr. Vest continues to train for running events from 5k-Ultra Marathon. Dr. Vest has a 2:58:13 marathon PR (Oct. 2015) and has run the Boston Marathon twice.

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