What Are Heart Rate Zones And Why Should You Care?

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Running Training Insights, Featured, Run, Training

Understanding (and using) your heart rate zones in your training will go a long way to improving your workouts.

Understanding the science behind heart rate zones can be a game-changer for any dedicated athlete. Training with a heart rate monitor is a common practice, but to truly maximize the benefits of your training programs, it’s essential to delve into the nuances of heart rate zones.

Heart Rate Zones: How To Calculate Your Max

The widely-used formula of 220 minus your age for calculating maximum heart rate (HR) is a starting point, but for a more accurate figure, consider this advanced formula. Take 210, subtract half your age, then deduct 5% of your body weight in pounds (not Kg – this comes from the US). Finally, add four for males and zero for females. While this formula offers a closer estimate, the gold standard remains a physiological test at a sports science centre for the most precise max HR measurement.

Heart Rate Zones
(c) Onur Binay / Unsplash

Heart Rate Zones Explained

Once armed with your accurate max HR, it’s time to explore the distinct heart rate zones that will shape your training. Each zone serves a unique purpose, allowing you to tailor your workouts for maximum efficiency.

  1. Zone 1 (60-65% of max HR): The foundation zone, ideal for warm-ups, cool-downs, and long, steady-state runs.
  2. Zone 2 (65-75% of max HR): The aerobic zone, is essential for building endurance and burning fat efficiently.
  3. Zone 3 (75-82% of max HR): The tempo zone, where you’ll push your limits for sustained efforts, improving your lactate threshold.
  4. Zone 4 (82-89% of max HR): The threshold zone, crucial for boosting anaerobic capacity and enhancing race-specific performance.
  5. Zone 5 (89-94% of max HR): The VO2 max zone, focuses on short, intense intervals to elevate your aerobic capacity.
  6. Zone 6 (94-100% of max HR): The sprint zone, is reserved for brief, all-out efforts to improve your top-end speed.
Heart Rate Zones
(c) Artur Luczka / Unsplash

Putting Heart Rate Zones Into Action

Understanding your heart rate zones and monitoring them during training will be invaluable in aiding you to train with enhanced precision, ensuring workouts align seamlessly with the designated zone, particularly during leisurely runs. To do this best you need a heart rate monitor. The utilisation of a heart rate monitor empowers you to regulate intensity effectively, guaranteeing that easy runs maintain an optimal level of exertion. Find out more about how to choose the right one and how to use it, here.

*Featured image by Filip Mroz / Unsplash

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