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Habit # 7 Train your Heart Rate Zone

Why heart rate zones are more important than calorie counts for successful workouts

What is Heart Rate Zones training?

Heart rate zone training is how most athletes train. They set out their training plans to incorporate short high-intensity workouts (higher zones) with long slower endurance training sessions (lower zones). They don’t keep doing the exact same workout and expect to improve. You can figure out your heart rate zone by figuring out your max heart rate.

What is Max Heart Rate?

The simplest calculation for your max heart rate is 220 minus your age. You will be in your peak heart rate zone for very short bursts during sprints or HIIT efforts. Most of your cardiovascular training should be in lower zones so you can build your endurance, pace, power and then speed. Just like in strength training, you wouldn’t walk into a gym lift your heaviest weight once and call it a workout. You need to lift all kinds of weights in all kinds of ways to build your strength.

How do I calculate my Zones?

Zone 1 is Light 50-60% of your max heart rate. This would be achieved through a walking pace that you could do all day. This is your recovery and warm-up heart rate.

Zone 2 is Endurance 60-70% of your max heart rate. This is light cardiovascular exercise and may help you lose weight if you kept it up for longer than an hour. 

Zone 3 is Tempo 70-80% of your max heart rate. This is where you will be when everything is feeling like you are in the meat of your cardio session. This is the last aerobic heart rate zone before you hit your anaerobic threshold.

Zone 4 is Power 80-90% of your max heart rate. You won’t want to talk in this zone. You’ll feel the workload. In this heart rate zone, you’ll be getting closer to your lactate threshold and anaerobic training. 

Zone 5 is Sprint 90-100% of your max heart rate. This is where you’ll find yourself during a really tough, intense part of a workout and it will only be sustainable for a very short amount of time as you aren’t using your aerobic system so you’ll fatigue quickly.

How Do You use Zones?

The purpose of heart rate zone training is to measure your workout effort and help you get more results from your efforts. As you build more endurance your heart will not have to work as hard during a workout. So you might have been in zone 4 when you first started running but now the same distance and speed is only a zone 2 effort for you. You can do a couple of different things with this information. You can increase your endurance by staying in a zone 2-3 effort for a much longer time or you can push yourself to get back into zone 4 for the same amount of time which will increase your power.

Heart rate zones are also an excellent way of managing your workouts during times when you aren’t 100%. Your heart rate will be higher if you are stressed, lack sleep, have allergies etc. This way you can listen to your body and either shorten your workout if you are in zone 4 or lessen the intensity of your workout. 

The more time you spend in the lower zones-building your base-you more efficient your body will become and the more obtainable speed and power will become. Start small with one change a week https://happyhealth.ca/2022/01/habit-2-schedule/