How To Find Your Heart Rate Training Zones



In a previous blog post, I talked about your Resting Heart Rate (RHR), how to measure it, what is healthy etc. Today I want to talk about how you can use your heart rate to work out harder and not longer. Because let's be honest our most common excuse for not working out is a lack of time.


There are five heart rate zones, going from easiest to hardest. Each of these zones is based on your maximum heart rate of 100%.


What Each Heart Rate Zone Means

Zone 1: 50-60% of your maximum heart rate, think of zone 1 as a casual walk. You are moving, but your breathing is moderate, you can easily carry a conversation. It is something you should be able to do for a long time.


Zone 2: 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, zone 2 is where you are going for a fast walk or a jog. You are still able to breathe through your nose. However, you need to use your mouth a bit more than zone 1. You should still be able to make some conversation at zone 2, but your breathing is breaking up your word patterns.


Related: 6 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Workout


Zone 3: 70-80% of your maximum heart rate; this is where you are going for a run rather than a jog. You are breathing solely through your mouth, and you have a definite ending in mind. Think serious workout.


Zone 4: 80-90% of your maximum heart rate; this is where you will start running out of breath. This is where you would be doing intervals where you work hard for a short time, then recover before you go again.


Zone 5: 90%+, this zone is not for everyone. Typically it is reserved for serious athletes. Because you are working at your maximum heart rate, this training is super short (only seconds) and very intense. In this zone it will feel like every muscle in your body is burning.


What Heart Rate Zone Should I train In?

Zone 1 and 2 (low intensity)

This is the ideal range for warming up and cooling down as it helps to improve blood flow and circulation to your working muscles. It is also the desired zone for low-intensity training, such as walking.


You should be in zone 1 for at least part of your day while you walk around the house or to work. Zone 2 is beneficial for those of you who are beginners to exercising. Try to get to this zone at least 3-4 times a week when you are first getting in shape.


These zones can also be useful for weight loss as your metabolism requires oxygen to burn fat. Training in this zone ensures that you can take in plenty of oxygen.


Zone 3 (moderate intensity)

This is excellent for developing endurance and burning calories. Training in this zone will cause your body to rely both on card and fats for energy, due to its higher energy demands. This is a good zone for those who want to up their general fitness level.


Once you have been training for a couple of weeks, most of your training should be done in this zone. You should be able to sustain it for 30-60minutes. As a general guide, try to work out at this zone for 30minutes at least three times a week.


Related: Why You Shouldn't Multitask Whilst Working Out


Zone 4 (high intensity)

At this level, your body is producing a large amount of lactic acid, and you can only maintain this level for a short period. This level takes you out of your comfort zone and improves your VO2 Max, which improves your bodies ability to utilise oxygen. In this zone, you are usually doing circuit training or high-intensity interval training.


Workout at this zone twice a week, and it will help you lose weight and get a better VO2 Max. Research has shown that shorter, higher-intensity exercises can do more for your health than a longer, more leisurely workout. Plus the bonus is you only need about 20 minutes to workout to achieve results. Meaning you can easily work it into your schedule.


Zone 5 (maximum effort)

This is your upper limit of physical capacity and is the toughest zone for your body. If you have only just started, you may not be able to reach that zone yet, and that is perfectly okay! This is usually only achieved by advanced exercises and can only be sustained for a short amount of time.


How To Find Out Your Heart Rate Training Zones

To find out our heart rate training zones, we are going to start by using the Karvonen formula. You start by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 22 like me, your maximum heart rate (MHR) will be 198 bpm.


Once you work out your MHR, you can quickly work out your different zones. Just multiply your MHR by the percentage you want to work out at. For example, if I wanted to work out at 50%, I would do 198(bpm) x .5 = 99bpm.


Knowing your target heart rate is a great tool to help you reach your fitness goals. If you have any questions about it, please don't hesitate to ask.


Related: 3 Main Reasons Your Scales Fluctuate


What you should do now

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