Return to site

High Heart Rate As A Limiter

Our second highest answer to our question last week was feeling a high heart rate as your most noticeable limiter in your workouts. While most everything ties in together we want to examine how we can train this limiter from a base level. If this is you, we need to get used to working for longer periods of time and really develop your aerobic system, both respiratory and cardiovascular.  In short you need better endurance. More often than not individuals with a higher HR as a limitation are more powerful or bigger athletes. So getting them to understand how to use minimal musculature to perform a movement will be very helpful in creating better endurance. As well as getting them on a cyclical progression building them out to anywhere from 30 min to 2 hours pending on how much volume their body can handle, what their training age is, and requirements for the level of the sport they are competing at. 

First let's take a look at a simple progression for developing better endurance. While this is probably the most boring looking training, it is crucial for base building with more powerful athletes. Once we have gone through a long cycle of base building roughly 3-6 months we can start to get more creative with the design which we will look at next. Here is a sample of what we might see for 3 of your sessions throughout the week. 

Base Building

Session 1

2-4 Sets

Row 5 Min @ 120-130BPM

Ski Erg 5 min @ 120-130BPM

EB 5 min @ 120-130BPM

Session 2

30-60min @ Cont Effort


Cal Row

Cal AB

Cal Ski 

Run 400M Btwn Each Round

Session 3

15 min EB @ 135-140 BPM

15 min Row @ 135-140 BPM

15 min Ski Erg @ 135-140  BPM

15 min C2 Bike @ 135-140 BPM

This is a sample of what you would see in your off season for an extended period of time. Pending on how much time the individual has to train we might lower the amount of time they are spending doing low level aerobic work like this so they can get other priorities and strength work in. If the individual has a second session in the day we can keep this work on the longer side and give them their other priorities in the second session. 

Once we have laid a base, or been through a base building before, we can start getting creative with their aerobic work. It’s possible that we might start doing more creative stuff like this a couple weeks into the session pending on how the athlete is responding. As coaches, we don’t need to be pushing more powerful athletes into high respiration, high power output workouts all the time. These athletes know how to go there and unless it’s a priority for them, most of their training needs to happen at a lower level of intensity building endurance and efficiency. If given too much sports specific work these athletes tend to go hard to close out a workout or on a workout in general. What our goal should be is to dose them sporadically through the week with intensity, 1-2 times, and the rest of the week is meant for some mixed intensity, or aerobic work like you saw above. Surges tend to be the best route to go when working with a more powerful athlete. 

Mixed Session Machines

Row 3 min @ 60% effort

Starting @ Min 2: 15 second surge to 85% effort 15 second easy x3

Easy 1 min Row @ 60% effort


15 Second surge to 85% effort 15 seconds easy x3

Rest actively on C2 Bike 2 min

C2 Bike 3 min @ 60% Effort

Into 30 seconds on 30 seconds off @ 85% effort x3

C2 Bike 1 min @ 70% effort

Into 30 seconds on 30 seconds off @ 85% effort x3

C2 Bike 3 min @ 60% effort

Rest actively 2 min 


Mixed Session CF

C2 Bike 5 min @ 130 BPM


30 seconds off 30 seconds on x3

DB Thrusters 50/35lbs

BBJO 24/20”

Deadlifts 135/95lbs

Rest 2-3 min 

X3 sets 

Here we have an individual working at low intensities for extended periods of time, and then getting spurts of intensity in. For the more powerful athlete this helps to get touches on their power and create some fatigue substrate that they will be experiencing in workouts, as well as build endurance and train the body to flush that fatigue during the easier work. The creativity for these sessions is endless, and as the athlete works through this progression there is a lot more than can be done to keep the adaptation process going!

Finally lets take a look at a session that helps to develop minimal muscular contractions. A more powerful athlete needs to learn how to do this so you don’t over excite your CNS, and create larger amounts of occlusion forcing your heart to have to beat faster to push blood through those blockages. 

A. Tempo Front Squat 6-8 Reps @ 3030 tempo rest 2 min x5 sets

B1. Back Rack Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat 8 reps with 3 second eccentric each leg rest 1 min x3 

B2. Double KB Front Rack Wall Sit 60 seconds rest 1 min x3 

C. Tempo Spanish Squats 20-25 reps with KB In Goblet Position @ 2020 tempo rest 90 seconds x3 

This session is designed to help an athlete develop better endurance in their anterior chain for squatting in the sport. We could also throw in a sports specific session here focused on squatting to create more endurance, or a different fatigue factor by going a little bit more intense with the intervals. We could also throw the interval in the beginning of the session and the lifting after words to work even more endurance in a fatigued state. The biggest focus here is to create a lot of time under tension to get the athlete understanding how to create contractions without firing every muscle fiber they have. 

Hopefully this helps to give you an idea of where you can begin to direct your training if you are a more powerful athlete or limited mostly by a higher HR in your training. As with anything we don’t want to rely too much on this training and we will want to make sure we are going through cycles where we are also touching on other things to improve our capacity. With a cycle like this other sports specific priorities can fall off, so making sure we are focused on maint work as well will be key during this time too. As always if you are looking for help directing your training, or are looking for a coach please reach out! We would love to be able to assist you!