Feb 222012

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Today is a continuation of Jennifer Lynn’s multipart series on Heart Rate Training Decoded. If you missed part 1 and part 2, click on the links and read them to get caught up.




Heart Rate Training: The next step!

I am excited to say, “Hello again to all  Fitness Electronics Readers!”  I hope by now you have had a chance to collect your resting, ambient, and maximum heart rate numbers.  You may be still working on this process, but you will catch up!

We are honing in on the precision pieces of Heart Rate Training mastery. Today you will use your maximum heart rate to calculate your training zones. What are training zones?  Training zones allow you to categorize your workouts into a 5 tiered system. Level 1 is the lowest level of exertion and level 5 is the highest level of exertion. Here is a brief explanation of each zone’s benefits and it’s correlating percentage points in relation to your maximum heart rate. The five zones descriptions below were developed by Sally Edwards in The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook.

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Zone 1 is “The Healthy Heart Zone.”

The Healthy Heart, Zone 1, is 50-60% of your Maximum Heart Rate and it is a great starting point for a true beginner with poor fitness. To find your Zone 1, Take your maximum heart rate and multiply it by 50%. That is your lower Zone 1 threshold. To find your upper Zone 1 threshold, take your maximum heart rate time 60%.

For example, if your maximum heart rate is 200, then your Zone 1 would be 100-120 beats per minute or  50-60% of Maximum Heart Rate.



Sally Edwards does a great job of explaining the benefits of Zone 1 when she says,”For years, many have said that there’s simply no benefit to exercising in this zone…HOWEVER, there IS noticeable improvement in several other wellness categories: blood pressure lowers, cholesterol levels improve, body fat decreases or stabilizes, and muscle mass increases.”

Wow! That is tremendous! If you are looking to improve your health, this is step one.

Zone 2 is “The Temperate Zone.”

The Temperate Zone, Zone 2, is 60-70% of your Maximum Heart Rate. To calculate Zone 2, take your Maximum Heart Rate times 60% and 70% to find your lower and upper thresholds for this Zone.

The Temperate Zone,”is so-called for a simple reason: It’s a moderate and comfortable zone. In zone 2, approximately 70%-85% of all of the calories that are burned come from fat and the rest from carbohydrates.” (The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook)

Zone 3 is “The Aerobic Zone.”

The Aerobic Zone, Zone 3, is 70%-80% of your Maximum Heart Rate. To calculate Zone 3, take your Maximum Heart Rate times 70% and 80% to find your lower and upper thresholds for this zone.

“The aerobic zone gives you the most “bang for your buck.”…it is at this point that you begin to realize substantial cardiovascular benefits…once you cross over from the Temperate to the Aerobic zone…you’re shifting into the zones that use more carbohydrates as their fuel source… It’s also the first zone where performance training effects begin. …It’s a training zone that enhances the features of all the other zones, and it’s a wonderful place to be.” (The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook)

Zone 4 is “The Threshold Zone.”

Zone 4, the threshold zone is 80-90% of your Maximum Heart Rate. To calculate your lower and upper thresholds in this zone, simply take Maximum Heart Rate time 80% and 90% to find your range.

This is very important

If you are unfit and your threshold heart rate point is within your low zones, you can’t train in Zone 4 or Zone 5.  It is too difficult at this point in your training.

Zone 4 is considered a performance zone and it is to be utilized once an individual achieves a baseline fitness level. Here are some cool facts about Zone 4: “your threshold heart rate number changes with your conditioning. This is a moveable and trainable heart rate number–not a fixed one like maximum heart rate–threshold heart rate is dynamic. If you are interested in high performance, one of your goals must be to raise your threshold as close as you possibly can to your maximum heart rate. ..your goal is to improve your maximum sustainable heart rate….researchers have discovered that maximum sustainable heart rate is one of the best predictors of your success….to improve the threshold heart rate…a large percentage of your “time in zone” needs to be at/about/ around your threshold.” (The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook)

Zone 5 is “The Red Line Zone”

Zone 5 is the most taxing and intense of all zones. It is 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your red line numbers, simply take your maximum heart rate times 90% and of course 100% is your max heart rate!

When have you been in the red line zone? Have you ever run so fast and so hard that you feel your heart pounding in your chest and breathing is so difficult you can no longer speak? That’s pretty much the red line zone. It is not for everyone! Also, it is a zone that requires precision training and planning.  If you train too much in Zone 5, bad effects will happen. If you don’t train enough in  Zone 5, too few results will happen….so….your training in Zone 5 must be “just right.” When you are in zone 5, you would be unable to sustain this for more than a minute. Your body draws from alternate fuel sources. It is primarily utilizing glycogen which is a fuel that only lasts your body for a short time and thus when you run out of fuel…your body stops functioning properly.

Wow! What a mouthful of information! For next time, it is your assignment to decide your personal training goals/purposes (i.e. heart health, weight loss, improve athletic performance). Also, write out your Zone Chart so you will be able to apply your heart rate numbers to your new training plans and program your heart rate monitor with these numbers.

Thanks for reading and supporting the Fitness Electronice Blog!! Have an awesome day!!

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  One Response to “Heart Rate Training Decoded Part 3”

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