One of the most accurate and effective ways of keeping track of what is happening inside your body during exercise is to use your heart rate as a guide for your training.
A heart rate monitor can tell you exactly how hard or easy that you are training by measuring your pulse via a sensor in the chest strap. Wrist based heart rate monitors are good too but they tend to be less accurate.
Your heart rate can be used to ensure you are training at the right intensity based on your own metrics and for your personal goals. Other ways to measure intensity are the talk test i.e how easy you can hold a conversation, and to simply grade your training on how it feels on a scale from 0-10. While all these tools can be used to define the intensity at which you are training, your heart rate is still the most accurate and easiest way to know how your body is responding to the training.
And this is where the heart rate zones come in.
Heart rate zones are the values that lie between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate (HRmax). These zones correspond to different training intensities and have different training benefits. By monitoring your heart rate with a heart rate monitor, you can accurately determine the correct zone to train in and make certain that you get the best results from your training.
The special zones can be used for different situations and activities, for example:
- to make sure you hit the right intensity levels during a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session
- to ensure you stay in the recovery phase after a competition
- to help you plan the effort used during your next run
The heart rate zones are divided into five zones, 1-5, and are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate.
Zone 1: Very Light Intensity 50-60% of HRmax
This is the very low intensity zone. Use this zone to prepare your body for work in the higher heart rate zones during your warm-up, but also during the cool-down and training at this intensity is also great for recovery.
Zone 2: Light Intensity 60-70% of HRmax
Exercising in this zone feels light and comfortable, and you should be able to go on for a long time at this intensity. If you want to increase your endurance, this is the zone to work in.
Zone 3: Moderate Intensity 70-80% of HRmax
Now it’s getting a little tougher but it stills feels easy to hold a conversation with your training partner. This zone also increases on your endurance but will challenge your body more than zone 2, and because of that it will make your body work more efficient.
Zone 4: High Intensity 80-90% of HRmax
Zone 4 is where the training gets harder. You’ll be breathing hard and while you may be able to speak in short sentences, whole conversations are definitely off the table.
Zone 5: Maximum Intensity 90-100% of HRmax
Heart rate zone 5 is your maximal exertion. This is hard effort, and your body is working at maximum capacity so you will only be able to continue at this intensity for a couple of minutes before getting fatigued. This is where you want to be for short sprints and maximal effort.
If you are interested in learning more on how to incorporate heart rate zones into your training or want to know what zones are best for your training goals, book an appointment with us today and we will help you every step of the way.
Sport & Exercise Scientist Evelina Kortzon holds a Bachelor degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Master of Philosophy in Skeletal Muscle Physiology from the University of Stirling, UK. Her main interests are muscle physiology, health and wellbeing, and as a former swimmer she is definitely up for giving clients an advice or two that can be used in the pool.
As a sport scientist, she takes a scientific approach when helping clients, using the data from performance tests and current research to give the best advice possible. No matter if you are an athlete or just starting out your journey to a healthier lifestyle, working with a sport scientist can help you reach your goals.
Book an appointment with Evelina to learn more about how you can use heart rate zones to optimize your training and how she can help you reach your goals.
You can also book her and the other members of the XpertHealth team for workshops or talks at your company or sporting organisation.
Contact us today to learn more!
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