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Heart Rate Zone Training

Heart Rate Zone Training

Let’s have a conversation about heart rate zone training. You’ve probably heard of heart rate zone training or heard people talking about using some kind of monitor to track their heart rate zones while working out and in their everyday life. You may wonder why they are doing it and what benefits, if any, there might be from tracking your heart rate zones.

They aren’t just crazy tech gadget people who love to use the latest watch to do something that seems mostly useless. There is good reason to track your heart rate zones when exercising and there are benefits to doing so beyond sounding cool with your friends when you talk about your target zones.

What are the different heart rate zones?

The different heart rate zones are determined by your maximum heart rate. Generally, you can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. There are five heart rate zones based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate:

1. Zone 1 – 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is considered the easiest and is best used for warm-up and cool-down.

2. Zone 2 – 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is used to help improve your aerobic fitness and is great for general fitness and fat loss.

3. Zone 3 – 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. This is the zone used for improving your anaerobic fitness and is best for interval training.

4. Zone 4 – 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is used for your highest intensity workouts and is great for improving your speed and power.

5. Zone 5 – 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. This is your maximum effort zone and should only be used for short bursts of activity.

It’s important to point out that this method of calculating your maximum heart rate is a guesstimate based on the average of a lot of people. It may not be terribly accurate for you as there are many factors that can impact your maximum heart rate.

The best way to get your maximum heart rate and to calculate your zones as accurately as possible is to get a VO2 max test done while wearing a mask connected to a machine that is measuring the air you are exhaling.

This test can be done while conducting exercise either on a bike or a treadmill and will help determine your maximum heart rate that you can achieve during exercise which will then help you determine your target heart rate and your heart rate zones.

If you are not able to get to a location that provides this kind of testing, then the heart rate formula will help you at least have an idea of your zones to help you train more efficiently to reach your fitness goals.

What are the benefits of training in different heart rate zones?

Training in the different heart rate zones has many benefits. Using heart rate zone training helps keep your body from breaking down from over-training. It helps determine the correct pace for exercise and determines whether you are conducting moderate exercise or light exercise. Should a workout be more vigorous, or should you just go for a light jog? Heart rate zone training helps determine your level of output.

Zone 1 helps you with recovery.

Zone 2 helps to build your aerobic base and teaches your body how to burn fuel more efficiently. Zone 2 is known as the fat burning zone and where you should spend at least 80% of your time training.

Zone 3 is aerobic exercise. You switch from burning fat to burning carbs in zone 3. This zone helps build endurance and your muscles.

Zone 4 is for tempo exercise. This zone will challenge your heart which is beating faster here and reaching higher beats per minute than the previous zones. This zone helps you build speed and endurance.

Zone 5 is going all out. It’s something you might do at the end of a race or to test out your maximum output levels. You will not be able to sustain activity in this zone. You don’t need to train often in this zone, but you should reserve some of your training time for zone 5 so you know how this feels and you can train your brain to work this hard even though it’s screaming at you to stop whatever it is you are doing that is causing this amount of pain.

What exercises can be used to train in the different heart rate zones?

When training in the different heart rate zones, it is important to choose exercises that are appropriate for each one. For the low intensity zone (50-60% of max heart rate), exercises such as walking, light jogging, gentle swimming, stretching, and low-impact aerobics are all good options. For the moderate intensity zone (60-70% of max heart rate), exercises like jogging, fast swimming, small group sports, and biking can be used. For the high intensity zone (70-85% of max heart rate), exercises like sprinting, interval training, and high-intensity interval training are all great options. Lastly, for the very high intensity zone (85-100% of max heart rate), sprinting and short bursts of maximal effort exercises like plyometrics or hill sprints are recommended. With all of these exercises, it is important to keep in mind that the goal is to reach and maintain the desired intensity for a certain period of time.


Heart rate zones training is a very effective way to exercise to reach your fitness goals. Getting a professional Vo2 max test done is the best way to calculate your maximum heart rate to help determine your zones, but you can use a formula also that will roughly help you set your zones as well.

This method of training is used by professional athletes from all kinds of sports disciplines from track athletes to cyclists and triathletes.

If you have questions about heart rate training or you are have questions about determining your max heart rate and your heart rate zones, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our expert trainers at Upgrade Group Training.

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