Calculate your 5 Heart Rate Training Zones


Once you have determined your Maximum Heart Rate the next step to heart rate monitor training is to calculate your HR zones.

Heart Rate Training zones allow you to better understand what you are doing and why. There are DOZENS of websites that can provide this type of information but we have adopted a method that we've worked with and endorsed since we started selling HRM in 1999.

The method we prefer is Polar"s Sports Zones (however, we prefer to use our own MHR calculation). Please enter your MaxHR in to the field below and press CALCULATE ZONES. If you want to know more about the precise method of calculation, please proceed further down the page.

CardioCritic recommends the Garmin Forerunner 35 with 5 x Heart Rate Zones

How to determine my HR Training Zones?

To determine your 5 x Heart Rate Training Zones you will need your Maximum Heart Rate (Max HR). If you don’t know your MaxHR, use this calculator to get your predicted value.

Once you have your Max HR simply enter that figure in to the “Your Max HR” box then press the β€œCalculate Zones” button

Your Max HR (required)

IMPORTANT please do NOT use our Heart Zones calculator if you are on beta blockers or any other medicine prescribed to treat heart related illnesses/problems. Please talk to your GP. These figures are intended only for fit, healthy adults with no contraindication to exercise.

Example – Heart Rate Zones (50 year old)

The chart below illustrates the results obtained from the Heart Rate Zone calculator for a healthy 50 year old male with a predicted MaxHR of 178bpm.

Most of their training time should be spent in HR Zone 3 to improve cardiovascular performance and aerobic endurance.

For Recovery sessions a majority of their time should be spent in Zone 2.

For Speed endurance training and improving sprint performance short periods of time need to be spent in HR Zones 4 and 5.

Heart Rate Training Zones Chart Of a 50 Year Old Male

Heart Rate Training Zone

Heart Rate


Zone Details

Zone 1


20-40 minutes

Benefits: Helps to warm up and cool down and assists recovery

Feels like: Very easy, little strain

Recommended for: For recovery and cool-down exercises throughout the training season

Zone 2 


40-80 minutes

Benefits: Improves general base fitness, improves recovery and boosts metabolism

Feels like: Comfortable and easy, low muscle and cardiovascular load

Recommended for: Everybody for long training sessions during base training periods and for recovery exercises during competition season

Zone 3


10-40 minutes

Benefits: Enhances general training pace, makes moderate intensity efforts easier and improves efficiency

Feels like: Steady, controlled, fast breathing

Recommended for: Athletes training for events, or looking for performance gains

Zone 4


2-10 minutes

Benefits: Increased ability to sustain high speed endurance

Feels like: Causes muscular fatigue and heavy breathing

Recommended for: Experienced athletes for year-round training, and for various duration. Becomes more important during pre-competition season

Zone 5


Less than 5 minutes duration

BenefitsIncreases maximum sprint race speed

Feels like: Very exhaustive for breathing and muscles

Recommended for: Very fit persons with athletic training background

Polar M430 with 5 x Heart Rate Zones

>>Back to Heart Rate calculator

CardioCritic recommend the Garmin Vivosport with 5 x Heart Rate Zones

What are the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones?

Heart Rate Zone 1

This zone is little more than a fast walk / very gentle jog.

Training in heart rate zone 1 is done at very low intensity. Any athlete should know that training at the appropriate intensity is vital, however, they must also they RECOVER correctly and give the body time to heal, recover and grow.

Performance improves when recovering after training as well as during training.

It is possible to accelerate the recovery process by training in Heart Rate Zone 1 at this very light intensity

Heart Rate Zone 2

This heart rate zone is for also for recovery and should be utilised by those undertaking aerobic/endurance training.

Training in heart rate zone 2 is specifically for endurance training, however, it should be a part of any training program including sprinters and power athletes.

Training sessions in this zone is supposed to be easy and aerobic, you should be able to hold a full conversation and not be short of breath.

Training for extended periods in this Zone 2 should result in an increased effectiveness in the body's expenditure of energy.

>>Back to HR Zones calculator

Heart Rate Zone 3

This is the zone that a majority of sportive riders, fun runners, recreational exercisers and anyone particularly interested in simply staying fit and increasing their aerobic capacity.

Aerobic power and endurance is enhanced in this heart rate zone 3.

Training in Zone 3 is harder than in Zones 1 and 2, but you should still be able to talk, answer questions and hold short conversation.

Although it only covers the same 10% band as the other zones, the difference in perceived effort from the bottom of Z3 to the top is quite noticeable.

For me, my Z3 starts at about 127bpm  and goes up to about 145bpm. 127 is a VERY EASY jogging pace, something I could do for hours and chat at will with my training partner.

On the other hand, 145 is getting close to the "discomfort" zone after half an hour or more.

It's a great zone as it encompasses both close to anaerobic (but still aerobic) EFFORT at the top end and active RECOVERY at the bottom end.

When looking back at a training log it could be possible to make a simple statement, 90% time in Z3. However, that doesn't really tell the whole story as Z3 can be maintained throughout an INTERVAL training session.

Training in this zone is especially effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles.

If you have to spend a majority of your training time in one heart rate zone, go for Zone 3 πŸ™‚

>>Back to HR Calculator

Heart Rate Zone 4

Beyond zone 4 is the red line of training. You will experience heavy breathing during training and muscle fatigue after your training.

YES, it is possible to RACE at increased periods of time in zone 4, but it is NOT recommended to spend too much time in zones 4 and 5 when TRAINING unless you're an experienced athlete performing year-round-training.

If you are a SPRINTER or other power burst athlete then you will have to spend considerable time in heart rate zones 4 and 5 to improve your anaerobic capacity. HOWEVER, a similar amount of time should be spent in zone 2 or even zone 1 to fully recover.

Interval training is the best way to improve fitness.

If you want to know more about High Intensity Interval Training we have a short article on HiiT here.

Heart Rate Zone 5

Zone 5 is the time when you are completely exhausted, and all you want to do is stop.

Both zone 4 and zone 5 are here to help you improve your performance and compete at your top potential. To achieve this you will have to train in heart rate zones 4 and 5.

In these zones, you exercise anaerobically, in intervals of up to 10 minutes. The shorter the interval, the higher the intensity.

Sufficient recovery between intervals is very important. It is unlikely when training in zone 5 that you will be able to hold much more than a single word conversation, maybe just a nod and a grunt. 

The training pattern in zones 4 and 5 is designed to produce peak performance.


By now, you should be able to accurately calculate your Heart Rate Training Zone with our HR calculator. It is very important to know your correct HR training zone in order to achieve your ultimate training results. This will prevent you from over-training and reduce the risk of fatigue. Following the correct training zone enable you to train at different intensities accordingly. So, how can you monitor your heart rate while you're running or cycling vigorously? We highly recommend you to check out this in-depth review of Polar M430 wrist-based heart rate GPS watch, for sure, it won't let you down.  

Last Updated on May 8, 2019

Calculate your 5 Heart Rate Training Zones
4.8 (96%) 5 vote[s]

Article Name
If you are going to train with a heart rate monitor you MUST be train at the correct intensity. The best method is to use 5 x Heart Rate Training Zones ...
Publisher Name
Publisher Logo
  • 2