When you’re trying to get in shape there are a lot of different metrics that you can track to gauge your progress. Your weight, your waist circumference, how many miles you can run without stopping… the list goes on and on. But if you really want to get serious about your training, then you need to start tracking your heart rate zones.
Heart rate zones are a way to measure the intensity of your workout. They are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate (heartbeats per minute) and are generally separated into five zones. Different zones have different purposes and allow you to target specific training goals, whether that’s improving your aerobic & cardiovascular fitness, building strength, increasing endurance and better fat burning. In general, the higher the heart rate, the more intense the exercise.
There are typically 5 different heart rate zones that people train in, but some fitness trackers and apps will break them down even further into up to 10 different zones. The 5 main zones are:
Zone 1: 50-60% of max HR (Very light activity/recovery)
Zone 2: 60-70% of max HR (Light activity/warmup)
Zone 3: 70-80% of max HR (Moderate activity/endurance)
Zone 4: 80-90% of max HR (Hard activity/tempo)
Zone 5: 90-100% of max HR (Maximum effort/sprint)
Here's a breakdown of the last 3 zones:
Endurance Zone: This is the zone where you're working at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. The goal here is to build endurance by training at a moderate intensity for long periods of time. This is a good zone for beginners or people who are just starting to get back into shape.
Tempo Zone: This is the zone where you're working at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. The goal here is to build muscular endurance and speed by working at a slightly higher intensity for shorter periods of time. This is a good zone for intermediate exercisers or people who have been working out regularly for a while.
Anaerobic Zone: This is the zone where you're working at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. The goal here is to build power and initiative by working at a very high intensity for short periods of time. This zone is only for experienced exercisers who are in excellent shape. If you're not sure if you're ready for this level, consult with a certified trainer or coach before attempting it.
Calculating your maximum heart rate
The first thing you need to do is figure out what your maximum heart rate is. You can do this by subtracting your age from 220. So if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 190 bpm (220 – 30). Once you know your maximum heart rate, it’s relatively easy to figure out what percentage of that number corresponds with each zone. For example, if your max HR is 190 bpm and you want to train in zone 3, then you would aim for a heart rate of 133-152 bpm during your workouts (70-80% of 190).
At ORB Innovations we’ve seen how effective training with heart rate zones is as a measure of workout intensity, and allowing athletes to improve their fitness levels. By understanding the different types of zones and what they're used for, you can tailor your workouts to meet your personal fitness goals. Start by figuring out what your maximum heart rate is, and then use that number to calculate what percentage of max HR corresponds with each zone.
Once you have those numbers memorised, all you need to do is grab a heart rate monitor like ORB Smartguard and make sure that you stay within the desired range during your workouts. Trust us—your body will thank you for it! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start training!