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Some atheletes use from 3 to 5 heart rate zones for training purposes. Sometimes the zones are calculated as a simple percentage of your maximum heart rate while another approach is to also consider your resting heart rate. Some advocate to use your Lactate Threashold instead of Maximum Heart Rate. The zones reflect different physiological states during exercise and proper training in the various zones can enhance your fitness. Below are approaches used for five, four and three zone methods. Pick which one you would like to use. You need to know your maximum heart rate first so see this article estinmating your maximm heart rate.

Recommended Method

I would normally use the Five Zone method. Although four zones is sufficent, may devices, such as the Garmin Edge use five zones, so I follow that practice. . Since a person's maximum heart rate does not vary with fitness, using it to establish your heart rate zone may not be the best approach. A well conditioned athelete may be able to stay at 80% of their maximum heart rate for an hour, while someone less fit may not last more than 20 minutes.

Based on Lactate Threshold

Using your Lactate Threashold and five zones, you can get the zones as follows:

  • Active Recovery: < 80% of LT, very easy pace
  • Aerobic: 80-87% of LT, slightly faster pace, still able to talk
  • Threshold: 88-93% of LT, moderate pace, increased breathing
  • Lactate: 94-100% of LT, fast pace, breathing is getting uncomfortable
  • VO2 Max: >100% of LT, very fast pace, breathing is deep and quick

My parameters:

  • Age = 63
  • Resting HR = 45
  • Maximum HR = 175
  • Lactate Threshold = 162

Yields these zones:

  • Zone1 < 130
  • Zone2 130-141
  • Zone3 142-151
  • Zone4 152-161
  • Zone5 >162

Based on Maximum Heart Rate and Resting Heart Rate

An altnerate method, which uses your maximum and resting heart rate, and five zones will yeild these. Instead of just using a fixed percentage of maximum heart rate, this method uses a percentage of your heart rate reserve, which is the difference between your maximum heart rate and you resting heart rate, or you Heart Rate Reserve. After calcuating the percentage of this difference, you add it to your resting heart rate. This approach is often refered to as using the Kavonen formula.

  • Warmup Zone: 50-60% of Heart Rate Resreve, used for warmup and cooldown
  • Recover Zone: 60-70% of Heart Rate Reserve, used for long, slow runs or cycling, or for recovery rides and runs
  • Aerobic Zone: 70-80% of Heart Rate Reserve, used for overall cardiovascular fitness.
  • Anaerobic Zone: 80-90% of Heart Rate Reserve, used for for training to increase your lactate threashold
  • Redline Zone: 90-100% of Heart Rate Resrve, used only by the very fit for short periods, usually for interval training.

My parameters:

  • Age = 63
  • Resting HR = 45
  • Maximum HR = 175

Use the above percentages for a particular zone to determine how far between your resting HR and Max HR you should go to be in that zone. In my case my resting HR is 45 and Max HR is 175. So the difference between the two is 175-45= 130. I get these for the different percentages:

50% Zone 0.5 x 130 + 45 = 110
60% Zone 0.6 x 130 + 45 = 123
70% Zone 0.7 x 130 + 45 = 136
80% Zone 0.8 x 130 + 45 = 149
90% Zone 0.9 x 130 + 45 = 163
100% Zone , just your Max HR

So with these numbers I can define the zones FOR MYSELF as follows:

Warmup Zone: 110-123
Recovery Zone: 124 to 136
Aerobic Zone: 137 - 149
Anaerobic Zone: 150 - 163
Red Line Zone: 162 - 175

 

Five Zone Method

This method uses only your maximum heart rate and calculates five zones base on it. It is advocated by Sally Edwards, and others. This method may well be good for some individuals but there is two wide of a range for the most difficult zone and there is too much emphasis oneasy heart rate ranges that good atheletes do not actually perform in very much.

  • Zone 1 50%-60% of Max HR. This is a comfortable zone which you might reach walking briskly.
  • Zone 2 60%-70% of Max HR. This is often refered to as a temperate zone, reached with easy jogging.
  • Zone 3 70%-80% of Max HR. This is the Aerobic Zone, reached by running or cycling.
  • Zone 4 80%-90% of Max HR. This hte Anaerobic Threashold Zone, reach by going hard.
  • Zone 5 90%-100% of Max HR. This is the Redline Zone, reach by running or cycling all out and is used mostly for interval training.

My parameters

  • Age = 63
  • Maximum HR = 175

Gives me these zones:

  • Zone 1: 88-105
  • Zone 2: 106 - 123
  • Zone 3: 124-140
  • Zone 4: 141-158
  • Zone 5: 159-175

Four Zone Method

This method uses both your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate and calculates four zones. It typically uses the Kavonen formula. I prefer to use this method and for devices such as Garmin, that has a setup for five zones, I just assign zone 1 to values below the first zone (see Recommended method above).

  • Recovery zone - 60% to 70%. Train in this zone to develop basic endurance and aerobic capacity and during a recovery portion of interval training.
  • The Aerobic Zone - 70% to 80%. Train in this zone to develop your cardiovascular system, or the ability of your body to transport oxygen to your muscles.
  • The Anaerobic Zone - 80% to 90%. Train in this zone to develop your lactic acid system. In this zone you are using up the glycogen stored in your muscles, which produces lactic acid. Using the correct training you can increase your ability to deal with lactic acid for a longer period of time or even push your threshold higher.
  • The Red Line Zone - 90% to 100%.Train in this zone for short periods, such as during interval training. It is really only for use by very fit atheletes. It helps you to develop speed.

My parameters:

  • Age = 63
  • Resting HR = 45
  • Maximum HR = 175

Use the above percentages for a particular zone to determine how far between your resting HR and Max HR you should go to be in that zone. In my case my resting HR is 48 and Max HR is 178. So the difference between the two is 178-48= 130. I get these for the different percentages:

60% Zone 0.6 x 130 + 45 = 123
70% Zone 0.7 x 130 + 45 = 136
80% Zone 0.8 x 130 + 45 = 149
90% Zone 0.9 x 130 + 45 = 163
100% Zone , just your Max HR

So with these numbers I can define the zones FOR MYSELF as follows:

Recovery Zone: 123 to 136
Aerobic Zone: 137 - 149
Anaerobic Zone: 150 - 163
Red Line Zone: 164 - 175

Calculate your own zones.

Three Zone Method

This method has too broad of zones, or leaves gaps, athough the simplier nature of 3 zones may have some benefit for certain athletes. Here the traning zone values are calcuated using the Kavonen formula:

Heartrate = (Max HR-Resting HR)*%X/100)+Resting HR (where %X=%Max, e.g. 60)

  • Easy zone - 60-75%
  • Anaerobic Threshold Zone - 85-90%
  • VO2 Max Zone - 90 - 100%

Use this Heart Rate Zone Calculator

My parameters:

  • Age = 63
  • Resting HR = 45
  • Maximum HR = 175

Gives these zones:

  • Resting: 123-142
  • AT: 158-162
  • VO2Max: 162-175

Comparision Using 3, 4 and 5 Zones

Using the above methods with this parameters:

  • Age = 63
  • Resting HR = 45
  • Maximum HR = 175
  • Lactate Threshold = 162

We can calcuate the zones for each approach.

3 Zone Approach
4 Zone Approach
5 Zone Approach
Recommend Max HR
Recommend LT
            1 Healthy 88-105 1 Warmup
110-124
1 Recovery < 130
1 Easy
123-142
1 Recovery
123-136
2 Temperate 106-123 2 Recovery
124-136
2 Aerobic 131-141
   
2 Aerobic
137-149
3 Aerobic 123-140 3 Aerobic
137-149
3 Threshold 142-151
2 Anerobic
158-162
3 Anaerobic
150-163
4 Anerobic Threashold 141-158 4 Anerobic
150-162
4 Lactate 152-161
3 VO2 Max
162-175
4 Redline
164-175
5 Redline 159-175 5 Redline
163-175
5 VO2 Max 162-175

 

 

 


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