The Heart of an Athlete

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Solomon knew the importance of taking care of the heart. It is not only the most important muscle in the body for physical life, but also for spiritual life. Have you ever considered that your behavior is really a reflection of your heart? We are encouraged to guard our hearts because our attitudes, our thoughts, our emotions, our words and our actions all flow from the condition of the heart. Anger, jealousy, pride, conflict—all of these reveal the state of your heart.

Use this formula to determine your heart-rate training zone:

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) = 220–Your Age
MHR x 60% (.6) = Target HR (low limit)
MHR x 90% (.9) = Target HR (upper limit)


We also must guard our hearts for the sake of our physical health. In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer for both men and women in America. But heart disease is largely preventable through proper nutrition, exercise and a right relationship with God.

When most people exercise, they have no idea what their target heart rate should be. They don’t know if they are training in the right range for weight loss or sports performance. How hard do I have to workout? How far do I have to go? How can I make the most of my workouts? These are just a few of the frequently asked questions people have regarding training.

A simple solution is to use a heart-rate monitor. Elite athletes train exclusively with heart-rate monitors. Just ask Lance Armstrong how important it is for peak performance. But these devices are not just for athletes.

Whether your goal is to win a race or just live a long, healthy life, a heart-rate monitor is the most valuable tool you can have in your training equipment arsenal. It gives you immediate feedback throughout your workout so that you can train in the appropriate heart rate zone and reach your goals.

Depending on your training objectives, your heart rate should be between 60-90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Only well-conditioned athletes should exceed 85 percent.

Even if you don’t have a heart-rate monitor, however, you can still monitor your heart rate by taking your pulse periodically. Either way, you will be able to make the most of your workouts by training in the zone.

But along with this, you mustn’t forget to monitor your spiritual heart rate. Keeping that in check will make it easier to stay in the “spiritual zone” as well!

This chart offers guidelines for different heart-rate training zones:

 % of  Max HR   Intensity  Level Heart-Rate Zone   Description



Baseline Endurance

This zone is a great place to start developing basicndurance. It also is great for recovering from intense exercise.



Aerobic Conditioning

This zone will improve the body's ability to use oxygen and to perform on the field. It primarily uses stored fat as energy.



Anaerobic Conditioning

This zone will help you perform at higher intensity levels for longer periods of time, primarily using glycogen stores from muscle as energy.

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.