Using the Advanced Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Advanced Cardio Assessment is designed for people who are in good shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week). It requires maximum-effort output, which should not be attempted by those who aren’t used to high levels of activity.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Advanced Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Advanced Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to maximum effort over a 10 minute period (for a sub-maximal assessment see the ‘Beginner Cardio Assessment’)
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Advanced Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment. For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

How Fit Are You? Take the 2 Minute Heart Rate Recovery Test

Heart rate recovery is a great way to assess your fitness level; the quicker your heart rate recovers, the more fit your heart and body is. It is one of those factors like Resting Heart Rate and Fitness Assessments that can tell you a lot about your body and fitness.

The original idea for the recovery had it’s roots in the Bruce Protocol, which basically takes a short but stressful treadmill test and was able to see a correlation between how fast the heart recovered and how fit or potentially unfit the subjects cardiovascular system.

We’ve found over the years that endurance or low effort activities have very different recovery rates. We enjoy measuring our recovery after a good hard workout, but for general informational purposes only. See below for a sample test and generalized results using the 2 minute recovery from Enhanced Medical Care.

Running the Heart Rate Recovery In-App Feature

When your workout is paused (while wearing a heart rate monitor), instead of tapping End Workout, tap Recovery.

Fitdigits will begin a 2:00 minute countdown.

Stop your activity and focus on breathing, relaxing and bringing your heart rate down. Take long (slow) deep breaths, breath through your nose and relax. Watch your recovery on the chart which will show how many beats your heart rate has slowed since the start of the recovery period.

Heart Rate Recovery

2 minute heart rate recovery

After 2 minutes, Fitdigits apps will display your recovery results including the percent of recovery by minutes. In the example, my heart rate recovered 15% or 20 beats per minute in the first minute, only halfway through recovery. By the end of the recovery, my heart rate was down to 105, a total drop of 28 BPM, or 21%. These results generally show a healthy recovery. According to the test published below, that puts me in the “Your biological age is about the same as your calendar age” category. I’ll take that, but try to improve as well.


Enhanced Medical Care Heart Rate Recovery Test

Enhanced Medical Care offers a good guide to a healthy recovery:

Age Target Zone 2-Zone 3
20-29 120-160
30-39 114-152
40-49  108-144
50-59  102-136
 60-69  96-128
 70-79  90-120
 80-89  84-112
90-99 78-104
100+ 72-96
Click here to see our rant on how off 220-Age can be for heart rate zones, and how to make them better with Fitness Assessments.

Do any exercise you want to until you hit Zone 2 through Zone 3 (60%-80%), that is your Target BPM before starting recovery. Then tap/swipe for pause, then tap Recovery.

Subtract your 2-minute heart rate from the heart rate you took immediately after exercising. The faster your heart rate recovers (or slows down ) the fitter and healthier your heart.

If the difference between the two numbers is:

< 22 BPM Your biological age is slightly older than your calendar age.
22-52 BPM Your biological age is about the same as your calendar age.
53-58 BPM Your biological age is slightly younger than your calendar age.
59-65 BPM Your biological age is moderately younger than your calendar age.
66+ BPM  Your biological age is a lot younger than your calendar age.