In the zone
One of the most effective ways of working out how hard you are working is by measuring your heart rate. Most cardio vascular exercise (running, swimming, cycling, rowing etc) can be split into five overlapping zones based on the intensity of training with regard to your maximum heart rate...
IN THE ZONE?
One of the most effective ways of working out how hard you are working is by measuring your heart rate. Most cardio vascular exercise (running, swimming, cycling, rowing etc) can be split into five overlapping zones based on the intensity of training with regard to your maximum heart rate.
An effective training plan will include different types of workout frequency, duration and intensity. So some workouts might be short and fast whilst others longer and slower.
Before we go on to Heart Rate Zones (HRZ’s) let’s first look at frequency, duration and intensity:
- FREQUENCY - how many times you exercise for a given period of time: e.g. per week
- DURATION - this is how long you exercise in that session
- INTENSITY - this is how hard you are working in any given session and this is where our heart rate and HRZ’s come in.
WHAT ARE HEART RATE ZONES?
We all have a personal resting heart rate (minimum heart rate HRMIN) and maximum heart rate (HRMAX). And between these values are different heart rate zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit. So two people that might be working at the same heart rate level might actually be working in a different zone because of their age, fitness level and gender.
ZONE 1 (50-60% of HRMAX)
This is the very low intensity zone known as the recovery zone that will boost your recovery and get you ready to train in the other zones. A gentle walk or slow cycle will suffice. Good for the start of warm ups and cool downs.
ZONE 2 (60-70% HRMAX)
Commonly referred to as the fat burning zone, this is low intensity and you should be able to go on for quite some time. This is the zone that improves your general endurance where your body gets better at oxidising (burning) fat and to a lesser extent glycogen.
ZONE 3 (70-80% HRMAX)
Zone 3, known as the aerobic zone is particularly effective for improving your cardio circulatory system. This is the zone where we start to see the build up of lactic acid in our bloodstream from anaerobic respiration. Training in this zone will make your moderate efforts easier and will improve your efficiency.
ZONE 4 (80-90% HRMAX)
This anaerobic training zone is where things get tough. Although working aerobically (using oxygen) our bodies are also taxing the anaerobic system (without oxygen) heavily. Within this range however our bodies can get rid of the anaerobic by products (like lactic acid) as quickly as they are building up.
If you train at this intensity you will improve your speed endurance and you will build a higher tolerance for lactic acid for longer.
HEART RATE ZONE 5 (90-100% HRMAX)
The VO2 max zone is all about maximal effort. Your heart, blood and respiratory system will be working at their maximal capacity. Lactic acid will build up in your blood and after a few minutes you wont be able to continue at this intensity.
If you are new to exercise or have only been training for a short time it is wise not to train at this intensity until you have built up a good level of fitness.
If you are more athletic then look at incorporating interval training into your exercise routine for peak performance.
So there we have an introduction to the zones, in the next blog we will discuss how to work out your Heart Rate Max and subsequent training zones.