Heart Rate Zones Demystified
In the fitness world, there are a lot of things that we take for granted. We assume that someone knows how to put a basic workout together. Or that they know how to make sense of the myriad of numbers on the display of their treadmill. But one fitness concept that continues to confound even the most seasoned gym-goer is heart rate zones. What are they? Do they actually matter? And most importantly, how do you find out what yours are?!
The first step in understanding heart rate zones is, well, understanding what your heart rate is. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute (bpm). You can check your heart rate manually by taking your pulse or using a heart rate monitor. Once you know your bpm, you can calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) using this formula: 220 - your age = MHR.
From there, you can start to understand what all those % numbers next to different intensity levels actually mean. Here's a quick breakdown:
Zone 1 (50-60% MHR) : This is considered warm-up territory. You should be able to hold a conversation while working out at this level.
Zone 2 (60-70% MHR) : You're starting to get into moderate intensity now. This is where you'll start to feel like you're working, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Zone 3 (70-80% MHR) : Now we're getting into somewhat strenuous territory. You'll definitely be feeling it now, and conversation will be difficult.
Zone 4 (80-90% MHR) : This is considered high intensity and approaching your anaerobic zone. Now is when things get serious and you should only be able to utter a few words at a time.
Zone 5 (90-100% MHR) : This is the true anaerobic zone where you're working as hard as you possibly can. All bets are off when it comes to talking—just focus on surviving!
So there you have it! Heart rate zones demystified. Now that you understand what they are and how they work, you can use this information to tailor your workouts and make sure you're getting the most out of them.
Just remember—no matter what intensity level you're working at, always listen to your body first and foremost. If something doesn't feel right, stop and reassess. After all, YOU are the best judge of how hard YOU should be working!