Calculate your 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.
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What are my 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 “Calculate Zones” button
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 50 year old 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.
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Let’s look at the Zones in Detail
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.
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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 (Tristan) 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 :-)
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Heart Rate Zones 4 and 5
This is the red line of training. YES, it is possible to RACE at increased periods of time in these zones, but it is NOT recommended to spend too much time in these zones when 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 Zone2 or even Z1 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.
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 Z5 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.
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