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How To Determine Heart Rate Zones

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What Is A Target Heart Rate Zone

How to Calculate Your Heart Rate Training Zones

The problem is that its not accurate to define intensity only as a percentage of maximum heart rate.

A heart rate zone is a defined range , yes, but people are not that straightforward. Or similar.

Heart rate zones differ from person to person due to a trainload of factors. Which is why absolute numbers dont matter.

We can do a killer sprint set or not get enough sleep one day and see our heart rate going bananas next morning. Overall stress level, hectic lifestyle, illness these are just some examples of factors that affect athletes fitness condition and, ultimately, heart rate zones.

To account for this, a so-called Target Heart Rate Zone is used. It takes into account both maximum and resting heart rates to determine an accurate zone reflecting athletes actual condition.

Determine Maximum Heart Rate

Once you learn your maximum heart rate , you can use heart zone training to gear your workout to the correct intensity. Your maximum heart rate is as fast as your heart can beat. This varies for each person, but age is generally used as a guide to estimate what your maximum heart rate is likely to be.

One of the easiest ways to determine your MHR is to subtract your age from 220. For instance, if you are 40 years old, your MHR is 180 .

You can also use the Tanaka formula, which is multiplying your age by 0.7, then subtracting that number from 208. So, for a 40-year-old, this calculation would also give an MHR of 180 = 180).

A more individualized number can be provided through testing by a personal trainer or as a function of some of the more expensive heart rate monitors. You can also use an age-based heart rate chart to find your target heart rates based on percentages of your max.

Know Your Heart Rate Zones In Real Time With Whoop

WHOOP measures your heart rate 24/7 and quantifies the strain your body takes on each day. Every morning, our recovery metric tells you how prepared your body is to take on strain. And when you track your activities with the WHOOP Strain Coach, you can see in real time which heart rate zone youre in, so youll know exactly when to dial it back, or kick it up a notch.

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How To Calculate A Heart Rate Zone

There are useful formulas to count the maximum rates and both of them are counted for males and females.

214 Age * 0.8 193 Age * 0.7

Cycling, Inline Skating, Rowing heart rates for those sports are rather between the positions, so you can count it approximately.

It is better for you to count your indicators specially for each of the sports. So you always know whether you are doing it right, or the workout load is too heavy.

Heart Rate Training Zones Explained

Is It Really That Important to Know Your Heart Rate During ...

So what are heart rate training zones?

Each training intensity triggers a specific physiological process and adaptation in the body. Structuring sessions around a certain effort allows athletes to customize their training and adapt it for specific needs.

In essence,

Heart rate training zones are ranges of intensities where the heart rate falls in.

Zones are always a reference to maximum capacity, so knowing athletes maximum heart rate is a pre-requisite for setting these up.

There are five heart rate training zones that categorize every intensity level. To calculate heart rates all you need to do is input your maximum and resting heart rate in the fields below :

Your Resting HR:
Your Maximum HR:
Speed Training

Target Heart Rate is a heart rate adjusted for both maximum and resting heart rates. Using this formula will provide more accurate zones, compared to simple percentage of Max HR.

Once heart rate training zones are calculated, next step is to create a structured training plan. Every phase of that plan should focus on specific area , measured in time spent in relevant zones.

And thats all the magic.

If you dont have a coach, Id be happy to create a program and coach you. Go to my personal training page for more info.

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How To Calculate Target Heart Rate Zones

The most precise way how to calculate heart rate zones would be to take a supervised VO2 lab test, where exercise intensity is gradually increased every minute until the point where athlete can no longer maintain it.

Zones, as well as aerobic/anaerobic thresholds are determined based on the speed of lactate accumulation and oxygen intake. Needless to say, such test is quite precise.

However, its not practical to do one for someone just starting out . So, the easiest way to determine heart rate zones would be to use a Target Heart Rate formula :

Target Heart Rate = * XX% + Resting HR

Semi-fun fact: difference between a maximum heart rate and a resting heart rate is also called Heart Rate Reserve .

There are 5 heart rate training zones in total, each having a certain training benefit:

90% 100% Speed Training

Target Heart Rate Zones are sport-specific, therefore in calculating heart rate zones for a particular sport its critical to use the maximum heart rate from that particular sport. Only then it would be a true benchmark for maximum output.

Heart Rate Zone Training

Have questions about heart rate training? Need help with your new & fancy sports watch? Ready to take your training to the next level?

Calculating target heart rate zone is really only about putting correct numbers in right places.

  • 60% effort for him would be x 60% + 50 = 134 bpm
  • 70% effort would then be x 70% + 50 = 148 bpm

How Do Heart Rates Affect Workouts

Heart rate zones let you know how hard your heart is working and what energy source youre using carbohydrates or fat. The higher your heart rate gets, the more youre relying on glycogen from carbohydrates for fuel.

For endurance athletes, its best to exercise in the zones that mostly rely on fat for fuel, says Travers. Fat is a longer-lasting energy source and better for longer, intense workouts.

Best heart rate zone for fat loss

Youll burn fat at every exercise heart rate zone. If youre just starting to exercise, aim for the lower-intensity heart rate zone. As you build stamina, push yourself into the next zone until youre comfortably at the aerobic level. Thats your heart getting stronger.

Cardio exercise is designed primarily to improve heart and metabolic health, says Travers. It helps lower your:

  • Blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol.
  • Blood sugar.

For fat loss, he recommends strength training to build muscle. Having more muscle mass boosts your metabolic rate , helping you burn more calories throughout the day.

If you havent been active before, then cardiovascular exercise will help with weight loss in the beginning. But at some point, youll become aerobically fit, Travers notes. Then you wont use as much energy to complete the same amount of exercise, so youll stop seeing significant weight loss.

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Zone 3 Training Aerobic Endurance / Marathon Pace

Effort: moderateTarget heart rate: 70% 80%Duration: long intervals, 10 to 60 minutes

They call this zone a no mans land.

Its challenging enough that you feel youre out of your comfort zone, but not challenging enough that you cant sustain it. Its comfortably uncomfortable.

At this point its barely possible to complete a sentence, before catching a breath, compared to conversational Zone 1 & 2 effort.

Many amateur athletes make the mistake of spending almost all of their training time in this zone. It feels like youre training hard and, indeed, athletes build quite a lot of fatigue with it.

The truth is, it does not provide enough intensity to radically improve speed or power, but is not so easy that the body is able to fully recover. So, athletes feel tired all the time, but not necessarily getting faster.

But it doesnt have to be like that.

Get Your Heart Rate Reserve

Understanding & Calculating Your Heart Rate Zones 101

Heart Rate Reserve is the difference between your Resting Heart Rate and your Maximum Heart Rate. It’s used primarily for determining heart rate zones during exercise, and the amount of cushion in heartbeats available for exercise. To get your HRR, subtract your heart’s resting rate from your maximum rate.

Your HRR is used in the PAI Health app to calculate activity intensity zones, which you can view by navigating into the PAI Earned section of the app. To get there, tap on the PAI Earned Today section of the Home screen, directly underneath your current PAI Score.

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Calculate Max Heart Rate

To identify your personal target heart rate zone, you must first calculate your maximum heart rate. The easiest and safest way to calculate your maximum heart rate is using the Karvonen Method: 220 your age = your maximum heart rate. This method is accurate enough for most people and is a good starting point to base your heart rate zone training.

Then, you will need to take 85% of your maximum heart rate in order to find out your target heart rate zone for maximum performance.

Energy Efficient Or Recovery Zone: 60

Starting at the bottom is the energy efficient or recovery zone. In this zone, where you can get plenty of oxygen into your blood, your body learns to better utilise that oxygen, pump blood efficiently and utilise fat for energy. For that reason, this is a great zone to aim to burn fat while re-energising your muscles with glycogen.

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Heart Rate Zones Classification

At first, when I saw the heart rate zones, I didnt worry too much about it because I dont even know what they meant in the first place. However, it is important to understand what they mean:

  • Zone 1 This is a very light intensity effort, such as having a nice walking pace where you can carry on a conversation and you are breathing without any difficulty. Benefits of this zone are beginners level aerobic training and reduce stress.
  • Zone 2 When you are in this Zone, you can still have a conversation and breathe easily so you can see it when you are warming up or cooling down. Benefits of this zone are basic cardiovascular training and good recovery pace.
  • Zone 3 This is a long run type of effort and you may feel how it gets difficult to breathe. Benefits of this zone are improved aerobic capacity and optimal cardiovascular training.
  • Zone 4 This zone represents a harder intensity effort and you may notice how you can reply to single word responses but breathing becomes harder. Benefits of this zone are improved aerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed.
  • Zone 5 You could see this during a spinning class and certainly would be difficult to maintain or hold a conversation. Benefits of this zone are improved anaerobic capacity and threshold, improved speed.

Your Resting Heart Rate

Determining your Heart Rate Training Zones &  calculate Max HR

The AHA recommends that you find your resting heart rate, or resting pulse, before starting any exercise routine. Your resting heart rate is a good baseline for determining whats normal and healthy for you. To find your resting heart rate, you can either use a smartwatch, fitness tracker, or follow these steps:

  • Find your pulse by placing two fingers on the inside of your wrist, just below your thumb. Press lightly on the artery there.
  • Once you find your heartbeat, count the beats for 30 seconds.
  • Double the result to get the number of beats per minute.
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    What Is Target Heart Rate

    Your target heart rate is a range of numbers that reflect how fast your heart should be beating when you exercise. A higher heart rate is a good thing that leads to greater fitness, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H. During exercise, you can monitor heart rate and try to reach this target zone. Doctors also use target heart rate to interpret the results of a cardiac stress test.

    Determine Your Resting Heart Rate

    This one’s a little more time consuming, but it’s one of the best ways to manually record your Resting Heart Rate . Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning, and continue this for 3-4 days in a row to get consistent readings.

    Your RHR improves, aka decreases, as you improve your fitness. That means if you’re earning 100 PAI per week on a consistent basis, you may see your resting heart rate go down! Because your RHR can change depending on your lifestyle, it’s a good idea to measure it on a regular basis to track your progress.

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    Vigorous: 77% To 95% Of Mhr

    The vigorous heart rate zone is from 77% to 95% of your maximum heart rate. You are now in the vigorous-intensity zone. You will be breathing very hard and able only to speak in short phrases.

    This is the zone to aim for when training for endurance. It spurs your body to improve your circulatory system by building new blood vessels and increases your heart and lung capacity. Aiming for 20 to 60 minutes in this zone is believed to give the best fitness training benefits.

    With the increase in intensity, you burn more calories in the same amount of time, as you are covering more distance in that same time. The calories you burn depend most on distance and your weight. If you go farther in the same amount of time, you burn more calories per minute.

    In the vigorous zone, you burn 50% of your calories from carbohydrates, less than 1% from protein, and 50% from fat.

    You would typically be in this zone by running or cycling, but you could achieve it by racewalking or walking fast for an aerobic walking workout.

    When you train at the high end of this range , this intense exercise will improve the amount of oxygen you can consumeyour VO2 max. This exertion level takes you to the limit where your body begins to produce lactic acid. Runners, cyclists, and racewalkers use this zone to build their ability to go even faster.

    In the high end of the vigorous zone, the body burns 85% carbohydrates, less than 1% protein, and 15% fat.

    How We Calculate Hr Zones In Welltory

    How to Calculate Your Heart Rate Zones

    We take your age, resting HR, fitness level, and then follow these six steps to calculate your zones. Note that HR zones have nothing to do with your gender.

    1. First, we determine your maximum heart rate using the formula:

    Max HR = 208 0,7 * age

    2. After that, we compare the result with your maximum HR within the last year and use the greater value.

    3. Then, we figure out your resting HR as follows:

    • If you have a fitness tracker that shows your resting HR, well get todays latest data from it.

    • If your tracker has no idea what your todays resting HR is, well use the most recent data from your heart rate variability measurements in the past 7 days.

    • If such data is unavailable, well use the arithmetic mean of your lowest HR scores.

    • If theres no information on your heart rate at all, well turn to the default value of 55 bpm.

    3. Then, we calculate the lower HR value for the light zone using the formula:

    Resting HR + , where 0.4 stands for 40% of your functional capacity.

    And the upper value for the light zone :

    Resting HR +

    4. Now, were going to find your target heart rate for the fat burn zone:

    Your lower HR value is:

    Resting HR +

    And the upper HR value is:

    Resting HR +

    5. Finally, we use the same formula to calculate your HR ranges for other zones with the functional capacity factors of 0.75 and 0.85.

    Lets say you are a 30-year-old man, and your resting HR is 50 bpm, and maximum HR is 190 bpm. Your HR ranges for zones 15 will then be as follows:

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    Karvonen Formula For Estimating Hr Zones

    There are five heart rate training zones. They are based on the intensity of training with regard to your maximum heart rate. The Karvonen formula is a mathematical equation that helps to determine heart rate ranges for different training zones.

    It uses three different variables and looks as follows:

    target HR = + resting HR


    target HR – heart rate you need to achieve to be in the heart rate training zone

    max HR – maximum heart rate. It’s expressed in beats per minute , and it’s the highest heart rate a person can achieve without experiencing severe problems

    resting HR – resting heart rate. The number of times that your heart beats per minute when you are at rest and

    %intensity – the intensity of the training expressed as a percentage. This value is different for each of HR zones.

    The table below presents %intensities for all five of the heart rate training zones:


    Heart Rate Training Zone Calculation Accuracy

    There are concerns that heart rate training zones that are estimated are too generalized and may not be overall accurate. However, actual zone ranges tend to deviate only slightly for each individual. This is not enough to significantly impact the overall benefit from focused training.

    Yes, the most precise way to determine heart rate zones would be to take a supervised VO2 max lab test. Such test measures the speed of lactate accumulation and respective oxygen intake throughout the exercise. Based on the data aerobic and anaerobic thresholds are established which are key reference points in determining heart rate training zones.

    Over the years and multiple lab tests, however, I noticed that these ranges tend to deviate only by around 1-2% .

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