Since it’s Heart ❤️ Health Month, let’s dive into some facts about heart rate zone training, shall we?
Knowing your Heart Rate Zone is something important to know when you are staying active or just starting out a fitness routine.
This is something I do for my clients at the beginning of our coaching where I calculate and let them know their HR max and the HR zone to stay within, even if they just walking.
Heart Rate zones are a % of your max HR. If you exercise too close to your max HR (Mhr) your heart & body will struggle to keep up with the demands. (1)
The goal of Heart Rate zones is to help you work efficiently but to allow you to challenge yourself to improve cardiovascular fitness. It can help make sure your workout is both safe and effective.
You’ve probably seen those charts slapped on your gym cardio machines and confused about it. OR you probably try to reach the ORANGE zone when you are working at Orangtheory but just know it is an “Afterburn” zone to strive for at least 12min but don’t know much else on the zones. (2)
Most of those charts are oversimplified and some don’t take into account your fitness level that you see online or on cardio equipment. BUT with some simple math, you can figure out the right zones for you if you are unsure where to go.
First thing is first. What are the zones and how many are there? There 5 zones from very list to very hard/max. Here is the breakdown.
- Zone 1: Very light, between 50% – 60 % of MHR. (this is with very little effort)
- Zone 2: Light, 60 %-70 % of MHR. (this is your fat burning zone and your recovery zone after aerobic/anaerobic periods)
- Zone 3: Moderate, 70 % to 80 % of MHR. (this is your aerobic zone-endurance, challenging but doable)
- Zone 4: Hard, 80 %- 90 % of MHR. (this is your anaerobic zone-hardcore training) Stay in this zone only 10% of your time.
- Zone 5: Very hard, 90 % – 100 % of MHR. (should not be in this zone too long only 5% of your time) only experience athletes should train in this zone for short burst periods like HIIT or TABATA.
If you are unsure what app to use to find your Heart Zone, here is a simple and effective way to find the zones you need to be within. All you are just two things:
- A calculator and
- To know your resting heart rate (which is your pulse before getting out of bed in the morning). Bonus tip, if you use a fitness tracker you can easily find this on your tracker.
NOW here is how to Calculate your MAX HR (MHR) with this formula:
220 – your age = maximum HR (MHR)
2. Calculate your HR reserve by subtracting your resting heart rate from your max heart rate (MHR above):
MHR – resting HR = HRR (heart rate reserve)
3. Then, simply multiply your HRR by your target zones … & add your resting heart rate number back in.
(HRR x target zone percentage) + resting HR = target HR
EXAMPLE: Let’s say you are 40 years old and your resting heart rate is 65. Here is how you’d calculate your zones:
220 – 40 (age) = 180 (or, MHR)
180 – 65 (resting heart rate) = 115 (HRR)
For moderate intensity (50% to 70%):
(115 x .50) + 65 = 122
(115 x .70) + 65 = 145
For vigorous intensity (70% to 85%)
(115 x .70) + 65 = 145
(115 x .85) + 65 = 163
The American Heart Assoc recommends staying within a target heart rate ranging between Moderate intensity of 50% to 70% (this is your fat burning zone) and Vigorous-intensity of 70% to about 85% (this is your aerobic zone) (3)
MAKE SURE TO NOT GO OVER YOU MAX HR! If you do, just reduce your intensity. Beware of pushing yourself too hard too often. If you are short of breath, struggling to keep up, or are in pain, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows. Back off a bit and build intensity gradually.
This is where having a fitness tracker or wearing a heart rate monitor comes in handy for you to easily view your heart rates zone and make sure you are within the zones you need to be in while you are working out.
*Some meds (like certain blood pressure drugs) can interfere with your heart rate, always consult with your doctor before starting a workout regimen or kicking up your intensity, especially if you have any heart disease risk factors.
Bottomline, Monitoring your workout and heart rate zones can help you avoid training too hard by knowing exactly when you’re overexerting yourself. It will also allow you to bounce back faster by ensuring you stay in the proper zone on recovery days. AND make sure you are working out safely.
Question ⁇ Do you pay attention to your heart rate during your workouts? Comment and let’s know your thoughts.👇