Making Your Workout Sessions More Effective with Heart Rate Zone Training

Date Posted:26 April 2016 

Heart rate zone training is a smart way to get fit and improve your performance. It’s basically working out using a heart rate monitor (HRM) to measure how fast your heart beats for each minute. You can wear a heart rate monitor using a chest strap or an optical HRM that is built within a sport watch. A chest-strap HRM reads your heart beat electromagnetically from your heart while a wrist-based optical HRM reads the pulse on your wrist.

Heart Rate Training is Smart Training

If you’re serious about your achieving your fitness goals, you need to know if you’re working hard enough or too much. Sometimes some people would think that casually running or cycling will help them get them fit, but training at the right intensity is the key to get the most out of your physical activity. Whether you’re running, cycling or swimming, measuring how hard your heart works will help you determine your progress. This also prevents you from pushing yourself too hard to the point of exhaustion or even injury. 

Whether it’s to prepare for a sporting competition, lose weight, or improve your health, your fitness goals will help you determine the right level of exercise intensity you need to perform. For example, if you’re aiming to lose weight, the more intense or longer you exercise in a certain heart rate zone, the more calories you burn.

First Things First: Know Where Your Heart Is

We don’t have the same fitness level so the first thing you need to know is how fit our heart is. What feels like an easy run for a professional marathoner can be very difficult for someone who is just a beginner in running. If you would like to get started with heart rate zone training, you should identify the following information about yourself.

  1. Resting Heart Rate
  2. Maximum Heart Rate
  3. Heart Rate Reserve
  4. Heart Rate Zones

1. Resting Heart Rate

By definition, this is the status of your heart when your body is idle or totally relaxed. To get your resting heart rate, check how many heart beats per minute you have using the pulse at your neck or on your wrist when you wake up, before you get out of bed. 

2. Maximum Heart Rate

To get a general idea of your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For instance, if you're 30 years old, subtract 30 from 220 so your maximum heart rate would be 190. This number is the most number of times your heart should beat per minute while you're exercising. There are other methods of calculating your max HR but this is the simplest one. Unless you’re a professional athlete, it’s really not necessary to get very precise to the number. 

3. Heart Rate Reserve

The difference between your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate equals to your heart rate reserve (HRR). Based on our example, if you’re max HR is 190 BPM and your resting HR is 50 BPM, then your HR reserve is 140. This number will be the basis on what your heart rate zones will be.

4. Heart Rate Zones

There are five heart zones and they present a 10 percent range of heart beats or beats per minute (BPM) of your maximum HR. To find out which numbers to target on which runs, multiply your heart rate reserve by the zone you’re running in, then add back your resting heart rate. 

Here’s a table that would illustrate your heart rate zone using the calculations given earlier. 

Heart Rate Zones

If you would like to know how to choose the best heart rate monitor for you, please read our buying guide here.

If you’re curious which is better, a chest-strap heart rate monitor or a wrist-based heart rate monitor, you can learn more here.

Do you think heart rate zone training can help you achieve your achieve your fitness goals faster? Please comment below.

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Comments (1)

Using the heart rate zone calculator

By: on 26 July 2017
Great stuff! I have been working on loss weight for 3 months now but never thought about my heart rate zone. A friend shared the link with me and asked that I could use it to calculator my heart rate zone. I want to find out if you have other alternative to this?

Active Stride Response
Hi Patrick, What sort of alternative do you mean? I have had a quick look and it seems to be fairly accurate.

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