Heart Rate Training and Working Heart Rate Zones

by Jari Love

 Why is Heart Rate Training Effective?

Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. It is always functioning and maintaining itself. In most people, the heart operates at a fairly low level every day, but as with any muscle, regular exercise over time can increase its capacity to deal with more tasks with less strain.

Heart rate is an indicator of how hard you are working because it has a direct correlation with oxygen consumption (% VO2 max) when exercising. Monitoring your heart rate during exercise and training within specific heart rate zones will allow you to know more accurately what intensity you are working at, and allow you to exercise much more efficiently (less time!).

We know that as exercise intensity changes (through a combination of adjusting resistance and cadence) there is a linear increase in VO2R and heart rate. This is why monitoring heart rate is such an effective way to determine training intensity.  Heart rate monitors have made the ability for the average person to do this.

Determining Maximum Heart Rate
Heart rate training requires you to know your maximum heart rate (HRmax), which is the maximum number of times the heart can beat in one minute. The physiological testing that is required to obtain a true measure of HRmax is expensive and requires an individual to perform exercise at a maximal effort – not everybody wants to do this.

Fortunately, there’s an alternate way to determine HRmax through maximum heart rate prediction formulas, which are based on regression equations. It’s important to note that there are multiple formulas available to determine your HRmax and few researchers and exercise physiologists can agree on the best one.  Although using a standard formula will results in a degree of error due to genetic and gender differences, it is still a great way to get an approximation of where your heart rate should be for each of the heart rate training zones.

When it comes to group exercise, the most common and widely used Age Predicted HRmax Formula is:  HRmax = 220 – your age

Example:  An individual who is 43 years old would have an age predicted HRmax of 177bpm.  Answer: 220 – 43 = 177bpm

Checking Your Heart Rate as You Train

An excellent way to monitor exercise intensity is to take your pulse periodically by pressing lightly on your radial artery (the thumb side of your wrist, between the tendon and the bone). Use your index and middle fingers to exert pressure just light enough to feel the artery throb as your heart beats. Count the number of times your heart beats over 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to get your heart rate.

For a more accurate measurement, consider getting a heart rate monitor. These days, you will find that heart rate monitors are relatively inexpensive and are easy to use. In addition to its greater precision in measuring your heart rate, it can also act as a motivational tool during your workout sessions.

Heart rate monitors consist of a transmitter that fits around your chest area and a wireless receiver that is worn like a regular wristwatch. Using a heart rate monitor is an effective way to stay within specific heart rate zones during workouts. Instead of relying on guesswork, you will know exactly how you are performing and if you need to slow down or step things up.

 Heart Rate Training Zones

There are five heart rate zones that go from least to most intense. Each target heart zone is expressed as a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate.  Exercising within your target heart rate is a great way to make sure that you are not under-training or overtraining, and serves as one of the best guidelines for achieving personal fitness goals. Heart Rate Zone training will get you on the fast track to fitness success.

Determining Heart Rate Training Zones

In order to take advantage of exercising within heart zones, you will need to determine the heart rates that correspond to the different training intensities. Using the chart below as a guide, calculate your heart rate training zones using your HRmax.

% of Your Max HR

Formula

Your HR

50% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax_______ bpm x 0.50 =

60% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax _______ bmp x 0.60 =

70% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax_______ bmp x 0.70 =

80% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax_______ bpm x 0.80 =

90% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax_______ bpm x 0.90 =

Next, you will simply join the percentages together in order to determine your heart rate training zones.  Copy the chart below into a notebook that you can keep with you while you are training.

Zone 1

(50 – 60%)

Zone 2

(60 – 70%)

Zone 3

(70 – 80%)

Zone 4

(80 – 90%)

Zone 5

(90 – 100%)

 Example:  An individual who is 43 years old would have an age predicted HRmax of 177bpm (220 – 43 = 177bpm).  Their charts would look like this:

% of Your Max HR

Formula

HR

50% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax 177 bpm x 0.50 =

88.5 bpm

60% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax 177 bpm x 0.60 =

106.2 bpm

70% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax 177 bpm x 0.70 =

123.9 bpm

80% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax 177 bpm x 0.80 =

141.6 bpm

90% of your Max Heart Rate  =

HRmax 177 bpm x 0.90 =

159.3 bpm

 

Zone 1

(50 – 60%)

Zone 2

(60 – 70%)

Zone 3

(70 – 80%)

Zone 4

(80 – 90%)

Zone 5

(90 – 100%)

88.5 – 106.2 bpm

106.2 – 123.9 bpm

123.9 – 141.6 bpm

141.6 – 159.3 bpm

159.3 – 177 bpm

 Zone 1 – Healthy Heart Zone – Getting Fit!

  • In this zone, you stay at 50% to 60% of your maximum heart rate; this is gentle exertion
  • When working in Zone 1, your Rate of Perceived of Exertion (RPE) on a scale of 1-10 (10 being maximal effort) should be approximately 2-3 out of 10.
  • Fuels burned in Zone 1:  10% carbohydrates, 60-85% fat and 5% protein.
  • This is not a hot calorie-burning pace: you only burn ± 5 calories per minute.
  •  In this zone you’re at 55-65% maximum aerobic capacity (VO² Max, a body’s maximum capacity to carry and use oxygen during exercise).

Five things to know about Zone 1:

  • Even at this comfortable pace, the health payoff is huge: a Zone 1 workout lowers blood pressure, builds muscle mass, reduces body fat, improves our immune system and cholesterol levels, and lowers your heart attack risk.
  • Most of the calories burned in this zone, even though you won’t burn a huge number, are fat calories. That’s a good thing.
  • This is a safe zone, so it’s ideal for inactive people trying to become more active.
  • To get the benefits of working in Zone 1, you must spend at least 10 minutes in the zone every day.
  • You will feel fatigue after a time in Zone 1 because your energy and fluids are being depleted. Drink water!

Zone 2 – Temperate Zone – Staying Fit!

  • In this zone, you work at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.
  • When working in Zone 2, your RPE on a scale of 1-10 (10 being maximal effort) should be approximately 3-5 out of 10.
  • Fuels burned in Zone 2:  10% carbohydrates, 50-80% fat and 5% protein.
  • You burn ±10 calories in Zone 2 – twice as many as in Zone 1.
  • In Zone 2 you’re at 66-75% VO² Max.

Five things to know about Zone 2:

  • This is the level at which most people exercise every day – a moderate and comfortable zone.
  • You’re still burning mostly fat calories in Zone 2 – more than in Zone 1 – and building muscle mass at the same time.
  • With more muscle mass, you burn more calories even when you’re inactive.
  • The more you train in Zone 2, the more efficient your body gets at using fat for energy, because your fat-burning enzymes are more active overall.
  • When you develop more stamina, you’ll be able to use Zone 2 as a recovery zone or a long, slow endurance zone.

Zone 3 – Aerobic Zone – Getting Fitter!

  • In Zone 3, you’re working at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.
  • When working in Zone 3, your RPE on a scale of 1-10 (10 being maximal effort) should be approximately 5-7 out of 10.
  • Fuels burned in Zone 3:  60% carbohydrates, 35% fat and 5% protein.
  • Your calorie burn in Zone 3 increases slightly to ±13 per minute.
  • In Zone 3 you are at 76-80% VO² Max.

Five things to know about Zone 3:

  • This zone is the “sweet spot” of training; it’s where you get the most benefits in the least amount of time.
  • You’re in good company here; this is the zone where high-performance athletes will spend most of their time.
  • In Zone 3 the emphasis of calories being burned shifts from fat calories to carbohydrates.
  • Two major benefits of working in Zone 3: here your body builds resistance to fatigue, and you improve your VO² Max.
  • The body can only hold so many carbohydrates needed for energy, so it’s important to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition before long periods of Zone 3 training, or any work in Zones 4 or 5.

Zone 4 – Threshold Zone – Getting Even More Fit!

  • In Zone 4, you’re working at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate.
  • When working in Zone 4, your RPE on a scale of 1-10 (10 being maximal effort) should be approximately 7-9 out of 10.
  • Fuels burned in Zone 4:  80% carbohydrates, 15% fat and 5% protein.
  • The calorie burn increases only slightly again in Zone 4, to ±15 per minute.
  • In Zone 4 you are at 81-90% VO² Max.

Five things to know about Zone 4:

  • Benefits of working in Zone 4 include increased aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways, a higher anaerobic threshold, a better oxygen transport system and higher lactic acid clearance.
  • For most fit athletes, Zone 4 is an anaerobic threshold – the point at which oxygen is consumed more than it’s delivered. Also, your body produces lactic acid faster than it can be metabolized in this zone.
  • Training at or just below the anaerobic threshold allows your body to buffer, recycle and clear waste from lactic acid production. For that reason, endurance athletes work to get their anaerobic threshold as high as possible.
  • Your body transports oxygen better in Zone 4.
  • This is the maximum sustainable heart rate; staying at this threshold for too long may cause your arms and legs to feel rubbery and your breathing to become shallow and erratic.  Make sure you know your limits!

Zone 5 – Red Line Zone – Getting Fittest!

  • In Zone 5, you’re working at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate.
  • When working in Zone 5, your RPE on a scale of 1-10 (10 being maximal effort) should be approximately 9-10 out of 10.
  • Fuels burned in Zone 5: 90% carbohydrates, 5% fat and 5% protein.
  • Calories burn at a rate of ±20 per minute in Zone 5.
  • In Zone 5 you are at 91-100% VO² Max.

Five things to know about Zone 5:

  • Benefits of working in Zone 5 include increased anaerobic energy sources, better speed and improved neuromuscular coordination.
  •  Zone 5 workouts are very difficult but they sharpen muscle efficiency and coordination.
  • If you’re running a race, you would use Zone 5 to break away from the pack early, or to finish a long run with a sprint.
  •  You cannot work in Zone 5 for sustained periods without slowing for a breather; you will fatigue quickly.
  • Too much time spent training in a Zone 5 may increase your risk of injury and becoming over-trained.  When it comes to Zone 5, think quality over quantity!

Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.

By Collage Video | | Abs, exercise, fitness, Healthy, Jari Love, practice, tips, Weekly Blog, Wellness | 0 comments
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