The Heart Rate Training Zone

Find your heart rate training zone for each type of workout by using either scientific or more crude but effective methods. There is a heart rate training zone that is dedicated to every kind of running workout. We've all heard the credo ‘Train smarter not harder’ but what does that really mean?

We all have the same amount of time to get our training done while juggling our other priorities, which of course means that it's important to make the most out of your training time.

Paying attention to your exercise heart rate while training, ensures that in your training program, your efforts are properly placed. That is, make sure that you are running easy/moderate pace on the days that you should be so that you have more to give to the designated HARD days in your program. Basically, finding out what your heart rate training zones are and then paying attention to what is going on during your workouts, optimizes your adaptation and minimizes your risk for injury. This is what training smarter is all about!

For me, a heart rate monitor most often keeps me from going too hard on 'recovery' days. Those days where you feel great but your heart says 'I’m tired'! A very effective way to avoid over training is to regularly check your resting heart rate.

What are the Heart Rate Training Zones?

While some folks have a different numbering system for the training zones, I've provided an explanation below for each one in this context. Basically in terms of pace for the various training zones can be described as:

  • Zone 0: Easy/Recovery – fat burning
  • Zone 1: Moderate General Aerobic – most miles
  • Zone 2: Steady pace (marathon race pace)
  • Zone 3: Anaerobic threshold/lactate buffering – point at which lactate in muscles continues to rise
  • Zone 4:VO2 max
  • Zone 5: Red zone

Roughly translated, with slight variations from individual to individual, here is another way of putting it:

  • Zone 0 - 55% - 65% of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
  • Zone 1 - 65% - 75% of MHR
  • Zone 2 - 75% - 80% of MHR
  • Zone 3 - 80% - 87 % of MHR
  • Zone 4 - 88% - 94% of MHR
  • Zone 5 - >95% of MHR
Notice that these zones are all based on a simple percentage calcuation of your maximum heart rate !

Your true maximum heart rate, despite popular belief, is actually quite unique to you. You've all seen suggested training zones based on age graded averages at your local gym on posters and on treadmills, however these are based on maximum heart rates calculated by population norms.

Therefore, if you don't currently know yours, refer to my page on the various methods you can explore to establish your true maximum heart rate.

How to Find Your Heart Rate Zones

As you'll see on that page, there are a few ways, some easier and less expensive and hence less accurate than others.

Once you've established your maximum heart rate , you can then find your heart rate training zones by referring to my target heart rate chart. If you end up getting the step test, you'll have all of your ideal zones provided to you as part of your test!

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