Heart Rate Zones Training – Which Zone Is Best For You

Training in the right heart rate zones benefits everyone, from the beginner through to the highly conditioned athlete. Heart rate zones training is an essential method that you need to know if you want to effectively reach your goals.

What is the goal that you are trying to achieve? Do you want to lose weight, or improve your cardiovascular fitness, or maybe you are preparing for your next competition? You need to be training in the perfect heart rate zone suited for your goal!

The key to making progress is to elevate your heart rate into the correct heart rate zones, so your effort matches your goals.

What Are Heart Rate Zones?

Heart Rate Zones are certain percentage brackets calculated from your maximum heart rate. Let’s say you have a maximum heart rate of 200 beats per minute (200bpm), and the heart rate zone that you need to be in for most of your workout is between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate.

You need to find out just how many times your heart is beating per minute throughout your workout, and make adjustments to the intensity of your workout to either, raise or lower your heart rate.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, it’s easy to take your heart rate yourself. Place your fingers where it is easy to feel your pulse. Set a timer on your phone for 10 seconds. As your phone counts down the 10 seconds, count how many times your heart beats. Once you have the number of beats, multiply it by 6 and the answer will be your heart rate per minute.

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Calculating Your Heart Rate Zones

There are a few numbers that you are going to need to work out and remember to calculate your goal heart rate zones. These numbers are your maximum heart rate, your resting heart rate, and lastly your heart rate reserve. This may sound complicated, but it is actually quite easy to do. Let me take you through this step by step and get you training at the perfect heart rate zone for your goal.

Firstly You Need To Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

The calculations for finding your maximum heart rate is going to be determined by your age and gender.

For men, the formula is quite easy. All you have to do is subtract your age from 220 and this will give you your maximum heart rate.

For example: 220 – 30 = 190

For women, it is a little more complicated. You need to first multiply your age by 0.88. You then need to subtract the answer you got from 206, and this will give you your maximum heart rate. For example: 206 – (0.88 x 30) = 179.6

As you can see from the examples above, there is a vast difference in maximum heart rates between a 30-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman.

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Next Is Calculating Your Resting Heart Rate

The easiest way to calculate a good average resting heart rate is to take your pulse in the morning before you get out of bed. You will need to do this for a few days and see what the average is of your heart rate over those days. I would suggest doing it for 5 consecutive days to get a decent accuracy in your answer. I am going to be using a resting heart rate of 80bpm for the rest of this article.

Now You Need To Calculate Your Heart Rate Reserve

This is really easy to calculate. All you need to do is subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. For example: 30 year old man: 190 – 80 = 110 and for a 30 year old woman: 179 – 80 = 99.

Now that you have your maximum, resting, and reserve heart rates, you are ready to start finding out what is the best heart rate for your goals.

Let’s start with the one heart rate zone that is great for beginners.

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Aerobic Training Heart-Rate Range For Fat Burning

The fat-burning zone lies between 50 and 75 percent of your heart-rate reserve. I am going to be using the above heart rate reserve example of 110 to demonstrate.

Take your reserve heart rate (110) and multiply it by 0.5. In this case, the answer is 55. And then do the same multiplying your reserve heart rate by 0.75. Which gives me an answer of 82.5, but lets just round it off to 82.

You now need to add your resting heart rate to both of the above answers:

55 + 80 = 135

82 + 80 = 162

These 2 answers are your 50% and 75% heart rates respectively. This means that you need to keep your heart rate between 135bpm and 162bpm if you want to target your workout at losing weight.

Aerobic Training Heart Rate For Fitness

The range required to improve aerobic endurance is higher than that needed for fat burning, between 75 and 85 percent of your heart rate reserve

Using the same method above, instead of using 55 as the starting percentage, you need to use 75. So the calculation will look like this:

Start Heart Rate Zone: 110 x 0.75 = 82 (rounded off) + 80 = 162

Ending Heart Rate Zone: 110 x 0.85 = 93 (rounded off) + 80 = 173

This means you need to keep your heart rate between 162bpm and 173bpm to target cardiovascular fitness.

Bobby Lane Fitness - Heart Rate Zones Training

Aerobic-Anaerobic Heart-Rate Zone

Please Note: Working out close to your maximum heart rate can be dangerous if you have certain medical conditions. Please consult your doctor before attempting any workout that makes you exceed 85% of your maximum heart rate.

This range represents the upper limits of aerobic exercise—the point just before you push yourself into exhaustive anaerobic work. Exercising at this intensity is usually done to improve athletic performance and is not recommended for weight loss.

The range to accomplish this task lies between 85 and 90 percent of your heart-rate reserve. Again, using the example of a person with a heart-rate reserve of 110 and following the same calculation process as in previous steps: the desired range would be between 162bpm and 179bpm.

Be advised, training at this intensity level will not burn body fat. It becomes a carbohydrate (muscle glycogen burning) exercise.

Anaerobic Training Heart-Rate Zone

This is all-out effort and represents 90 to 100 percent of your heart-rate reserve. The goal here is to go as fast as you can for as long as you can.

Using the same example, anything from 179 beats per minute to your maximum of 190 beats per minute becomes pure anaerobic, carbohydrate-burning, exhaustive, lactic acid-producing exercise.

This is the no-pain, no-gain training zone.

Bobby Lane Fitness - Heart Rate Zones Training

Jumping Heart Rate Zones For Maximum Benefit

I am sure you have asked yourself the question by now,”Will using multiple heart rate zones in one training session be more beneficial to me?” The answer is yes… if you are confident that you are ready for it.

One of the best training types to accomplish this is called High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT can be very tiring and a great deal of persistence and dedication is needed to perform it, but the results are worth it! Keep in mind that you need to keep your lower interval heart rate should be kept between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. And your higher intervals should not exceed 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Take a look at my post, HIIT – How to do it and How Will it Benefit You, to find out more about HIIT.

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