Incorporating heart rate zones into a training program makes it easy to follow hard-easy training system by helping runners to choose the best training intensity for a given workout.
Heart rate zones are intensities expressed as a percentage of an athlete’s heart rate reserve. Your heart rate reserve is the difference between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate. This way of of calculating heart rate zones is known as the Karvonen formula.
How do I measure my heart rate?
The easiest and most effective way to measure heart rate would be to use a heart rate monitor. It consist of a chest transmitter that you wear and a wireless receiver worn like a wristwatch.
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To measure your heart rate via your pulse you only need a watch that displays seconds. Find your pulse at your neck wrist. Take your pulse for 6 seconds then multiply your count by 10 to find your beats per minute.
What is maximum heart rate?
Your maximum heart rate is as fast as your heart can beat. This varies for each person, but age is generally used as a guide for what your maximum heart rate is likely to be. A more individualized number can be obtained by performing a running test which you can do on a track, in a park or on a treadmill. You should not do this without medical advice if you are over 50, if you are obese, or if you have any history of heart problems.
After warming up, run at an even pace for three minutes, as fast as you can. Jog for two minutes; then run again for three minutes as fast as you can. Your maximum heart rate is the maximum level reached during the second 3 minute run.
Our heart rate zones calculator is will automatically fill in an age and gender based max if you do not select one.
What is resting heart rate?
Resting heart rate is your heart rate when you first wake up and before rising. The best way to measure your resting heart rate is to use a watch or a heart rate monitor before you get out of bed in the morning (and before your first cup of coffee, since caffeine stimulates the heart rate). Some athletes even sleep with their heart rate monitor strap on.
As you get fitter, your resting heart rate should gradually reduce (unlike your maximum heart rate, which falls slowly with age but is not much affected by fitness).
Training zones based on heart rates
Zone 1 = Comfortable Zone
This is an easy and comfortable zone to exercise in. You will be able to carry on a full conversation in this zone, although you may be breathing a little heavier than usual. Walkers are often in this zone unless they press themselves to walk faster.
Your workout in this zone is less intense and won’t give the most cardiorespiratory training benefits. But studies have shown that it works to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Zone 2 = Recovery Runs
Recovery runs in heart rate zone 2 give you time to recover from harder workouts. Use recovery runs the day after hard workouts.
Zone 3 = Long, Slow Runs Long, slow runs
in heart rate zone 3 builds endurance, and develop the strength of your muscles, bones and joints. They also help to develop the metabolic system that enables you to burn more fat, burn more calories, and so reduce weight. You should do at least one long, slow run a week with 80-90% of your training mileage at recovery run pace or long slow run pace.
Zone 4 = Lactate or anaerobic threshold pace
Runs done in this heart rate zone increase the ability of the running muscles to use available oxygen to convert carbohydrate and fat fuel into output. You shouldn’t do this type of run more than once a week and it shouldn’t make up more than 10 to 15 percent of total training mileage (About 3-8 miles a week).
Zone 5 = VO2 max pace
Runs done in this heart rate zone improve the body’s ability to transport blood and oxygen and improves running economy. You shouldn’t do this type of run no more than once a week and it shouldn’t make up more than 4 to 8
percent of total training mileage.