Lifting heavy to raise your heart rate

April 28, 2018


Typically, workouts programed to raise your heart rate will have running, jumping, rowing, moving fast, or something in this realm. What I am suggesting to raise your heart rate is to lift heavy. And what I am speaking of when I say heavy is your 3-5 rep max.

For example: If you normally press the PKB 45lb for 10 reps, try stacking TWO 45lb PKBs on top of each other for 3 or 4 reps. Rest for 1 minute then press with the other arm. THIS WILL SPIKE YOUR HEART RATE. Your heart rate monitor will look as though you are doing interval training.

Orange Theory has built an entire fitness chain around the concept of getting your heart rate in the “Orange” zone for as long as you can within the hour spent at their class. Depending on the heart rate monitor, the fat burning zone may be blue or green.

I personally use My Zone. I am not here to promote any certain heart rate monitor, I just would like to make the point that I also use one and am a geek about it.

There are many ways to program your workouts to get into ALL of the zones, which I endorse fully after working with others that get just as geeky as I do about training.

We all have energy systems that we are better at and energy systems that we suck at. I am really good keeping a steady pace at an 80-85% heart rate for a long time. I can stick with the suck. But once I get into the 90% range I fold like a wet paper house. I am also not great at the lower 70% heart rate for a steady slow burn merely because I get bored. Not that I “can’t”, I just don’t prefer it.

That all being said, we are only as strong as our weakest link. So I have been doing an hour of steady rowing on the Concept 2 rower at 70-75% of my max heart rate once a week. And doing 85-89% of max heart rate on the rower for 30-40 minute two times a week. I want all of my “zones” or Energy Systems to get worked.

I started writing this article with the intention of writing on the topic of how to raise your heart rate by exercise that is not aerobic based.

Another 3-5 reps max exercise that will have your heart rate spike is PKB front squats. Place the bags in the rack position, not on your shoulders, so it feels as though there is a small elephant sitting on your chest, then squat. Try the technique described above and stack TWO PKB’s on top of each other (I recommend training one arm/ one side at a time) and squat 3-5 times.

Begin to lessen the rest time from 1-2 minutes between sets down to 30-45 seconds. The cumulative work will have your heart rate spike in the later rounds.

There you have it!! Your own Orange Theory with PKB and getting stronger while you are at it!!


You will also be in the fat burning zone. Two birds with 2 stones! Enjoy your new found strength within a couple of months.


Robert is a former RKC and Strong First Team Leader. He’s the creator of “Kettlebells at 10,000ft” video workout series and Kettlebell Training: The Basics (Apple App). You can reach Robert at

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