Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | October 29, 2008

The 5 Heart Rate Training Zones

       Greetings – in my last post I introduced the concept of “training with heart rate”.  I want to continue that discussion by introducing the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones.  The zones are typically based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR) and are divided into ranges as follows:

  • Zone 1 = 50 to 60% of MHR
  • Zone 2 = 60 to 70% of MHR
  • Zone 3 = 70 to 80% of MHR
  • Zone 4 = 80 to 90% of MHR
  • Zone 5 = 90 to 100% of MHR

Each zone serves a specific purpose in your physical development.  Zone 1 is referred to as the recovery zone.  Workouts in this zone will feel very easy.  You can talk in full sentences because breathing is effortless.  This is a good intensity for recovering from a hard workout.  It’s also a good place to start if you are new to exercise.  Zone 2 is famously referred to as the fat-burning zone because workouts at this intensity use about 80% fat as a fuel source.  You are working harder than Zone 1, therefore breathing is more labored.  However, you can still talk fairly easily.  Zone 3 is the aerobic zone where breathing becomes labored and talking becomes somewhat difficult.  This is also the zone where you can make great improvements to your aerobic endurance.

Zone 4, known as the threshold zone is where your workouts get hard.  You will not be talking in this zone!  Competitive endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists spend a lot of time in this zone because it will increase your lactate threshold, which is the key to improving performance (I’ll describe this in greater detail in a future post).  Finally, Zone 5 is all about pain!  Known as the anaerobic zone, it is not sustainable for long periods because it utilizes the body’s anaerobic energy systems which only last for a few seconds to a maximum of a few minutes.

NEXT POST – November 3, 2008

Calculating Your Heart Rate Training Zones

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