Want to know what's your ideal heart rate in different training zones? Use our Heart Rate Zone Calculator!
Once you have determined your Maximum Heart Rate the next step to heart rate monitor training is to calculate your HR zones.
Heart Rate Training zones allow you to better understand what you are doing and why. There are DOZENS of websites that can provide this type of information but we have adopted a method that we've worked with and endorsed since we started reviewing HRM in 1999.
The method we prefer is Polar"s Sports Zones (however, we prefer to use our own MHR calculation). Please enter your MaxHR in to the field below and press CALCULATE ZONES. If you want to know more about the precise method of calculation, please proceed further down the page.
CardioCritic recommends the Garmin Forerunner 35 with 5 x Heart Rate Zones
How to determine my HR Training Zones?
Once you have your Max HR simply enter that figure in to the “Your Max HR” box then press the “Calculate Zones” button – this is our heart rate training zones calculator.
IMPORTANT – please do NOT use our Heart Zones calculator if you are on beta blockers or any other medicine prescribed to treat heart related illnesses/problems. Please talk to your GP. These figures are intended only for fit, healthy adults with no contraindication to exercise.
Example – Heart Rate Zones (50 year old)
The chart below illustrates the results obtained from the Heart Rate Zone calculator for a healthy 50 year old male with a predicted MaxHR of 178bpm.
Most of their training time should be spent in HR Zone 3 to improve cardiovascular performance and aerobic endurance.
For Recovery sessions a majority of their time should be spent in Zone 2.
For Speed endurance training and improving sprint performance short periods of time need to be spent in HR Zones 4 and 5.
Heart Rate Training Zones Chart Of a 50 Year Old Male
Heart Rate Training Zone
Benefits: Helps to warm up and cool down and assists recovery
Feels like: Very easy, little strain
Recommended for: For recovery and cool-down exercises throughout the training season
Benefits: Improves general base fitness, improves recovery and boosts metabolism
Benefits: Enhances general training pace, makes moderate intensity efforts easier and improves efficiency
Benefits: Increased ability to sustain high speed endurance
Less than 5 minutes duration
Benefits: Increases maximum sprint race speed
What are the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones?
Heart Rate Zone 1
This zone is little more than a fast walk / very gentle jog. The idea is that this is a very light and sustainable kind of exercise; something that you can keep up for the duration. Gentle stretching, and kind of warming up your body are the kind of exercise that will keep you in zone 1. A fitbit is a good tool for this zone, as it is low tech, and you can wear it all day long to get a sense of the fluctuations between your general heart rate throughout the day, vs when you are moving into zone 1.
Zone 1 is the zone you want for warming up and cooling down. This is also the “recovery” phase of HIIT (High Intensity Interval training), meaning that after you have pushed yourself to the limit in zones 4 and 5, you can recover your breath and lower your heart rate back to zone 1. When you are in this zone, you can easily talk, and you start to literally warm up and perspire.Generally speaking, it is about 60-70% of your HRR
Training in heart rate zone 1 is done at very low intensity. Any athlete should know that training at the appropriate intensity is vital, however, they must also they RECOVER correctly and give the body time to heal, recover and grow.
Performance improves when recovering after training as well as during training.
It is possible to accelerate the recovery process by training in Heart Rate Zone 1 at this very light intensity
Heart Rate Zone 2
This heart rate zone is for also for recovery and should be utilised by those undertaking aerobic/endurance training.
Training in heart rate zone 2 is specifically for endurance training, however, it should be a part of any training program including sprinters and power athletes.
Training sessions in this zone is supposed to be easy and aerobic, you should be able to hold a full conversation and not be short of breath.
Training for extended periods in this Zone 2 should result in an increased effectiveness in the body's expenditure of energy.
Exercises for zone 2 are activities like a light aerobics class, pilates or yoga or other strengthening/stretch combo, brisk walking or easy jogging, or long distance biking on a fairly flat course. When you are in Zone 2 you can still speak in sentences, but you will find it is a bit harder than usual. speech become a little harder. Although you will sweat in zone 2, you will still feel that exercising is an enjoyable, fun activity. The experience of Zone 2 is about 70-80% of your HRR.
To measure your heart rate, we highly recommend the Mio Fitness Watch.
With a bit more bulk and bells as whistles than the average fitbit, you can accurately monitor your heart rate through zones 1 and 2, and even beyond. You will be able to take your workout efficiency to the next level, by getting used to the subtle distinction between zones 1 and 2, and maximizing light aerobic exercise and HIIT recovery periods, which will boost calorie burning and fine tune the science of your workout.
HR Zones Calculator
Heart Rate Zone 3
This is the zone that a majority of sportive riders, fun runners, recreational exercisers and anyone particularly interested in simply staying fit and increasing their aerobic capacity.
Examples of this kind of exercise are: High Intensity Aerobics, a high level Pilates class where you are super focused and pushed to your limits, intense running, uphill biking or spinning, and other types of exercises that get you into a serious, hard working mode, that begins to interfere with speech.
We recommend the A370 Polar Fitness watch, which you can check out here: https://www.cardiocritic.com/fitness-watches/polar/
The stylish A370 is a feature-rich heart rate monitor based on the mid-range A360 activity tracking bracelet. It offers advanced sleep tracking, GPS sharing, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, smartphone notifications, and Polar Flow compatibility. Additionally, this neat HRM displays daily summary, speed and distance, and 5-zone heart rate. It can also share your smartphone’s GPS.The A370 is for people who want to step up their fitness game with the help of a stylish, motivational heart rate monitor.
Aerobic power and endurance is enhanced in this heart rate zone 3. This means that using a heart rate monitor to stay in zone 3 can help you increase your endurance and overall health, pushing past your comfort zone into a fat burning, muscle building exercise level that will positively affect your overall health.
Training in Zone 3 is harder than in Zones 1 and 2, but you should still be able to talk, answer questions and hold short conversation.
Although it only covers the same 10% band as the other zones, the difference in perceived effort from the bottom of Z3 to the top is quite noticeable.
For me, my Z3 starts at about 127bpm and goes up to about 145bpm. 127 is a VERY EASY jogging pace, something I could do for hours and chat at will with my training partner.
On the other hand, 145 is getting close to the "discomfort" zone after half an hour or more.
It's a great zone as it encompasses both close to anaerobic (but still aerobic) EFFORT at the top end and active RECOVERY at the bottom end.
When looking back at a training log it could be possible to make a simple statement, 90% time in Z3. However, that doesn't really tell the whole story as Z3 can be maintained throughout an INTERVAL training session.
Training in this zone is especially effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles.
If you have to spend a majority of your training time in one heart rate zone, go for Zone 3 🙂
In Zone 3, you will sweat more due to a steady increase in your body temperature. You will also feel that you are breathing more heavily to get oxygen to your bloodstream, to your muscles. Your muscles are hard at work, and this will be reflected in an increasingly difficult time sustaining conversation. The vibes is less towards enjoyment, and more serious, as you are working hard to sustain this level of activity. If you do not monitor your heart rate, you will tend to slide back into zone 2, as physical activity in zone 3 is a real challenge. Optimal time for Zone 3 is going to be about 10-20 minutes. Zone 3 is about 81-89, maybe as high as 93% of HRR.
Heart Rate Zone 4
Beyond zone 4 is the red line of training. You will experience heavy breathing during training and muscle fatigue after your training.
YES, it is possible to RACE at increased periods of time in zone 4, but it is NOT recommended to spend too much time in zones 4 and 5 when TRAINING unless you're an experienced athlete performing year-round-training.
If you are a SPRINTER or other power burst athlete then you will have to spend considerable time in heart rate zones 4 and 5 to improve your anaerobic capacity. HOWEVER, a similar amount of time should be spent in zone 2 or even zone 1 to fully recover.
This is really the extreme zone of effort. The types of activities that can get you into Zone 4 are sprinting, weight lifting that requires maximum effort, an advanced spin class, etc… Basically, imagine yourself pushed to the maximum physically; but don’t stay there. Short bursts of extreme effort, paired with “recovery” periods of low heart rate activities in zones 1 and 2 are the best way to burn fat quickly and improve respiratory health and endurance. However, these intervals need to be kept short, or the taxing of your system due to high heart rate levels is too much. That’s why it’s important to have a sensitive tool for measuring your heart rate in this zone, so that you don’t overdo it. We recommend a serious heart rate monitor like the Alivecor.
This slim device is actually an EKG machine for self monitoring, which can show results on your smartphone. The ratings for this machine are off the charts: top grade in heart rate monitoring, ease of use, and battery life. Basically, when you want to push yourself physically, while making absolutely sure that you are not over stressing your heart, this device will keep your mind at ease, and allow you to play at the top of your game.
Interval training is the best way to improve fitness.
If you want to know more about High Intensity Interval Training we have a short article on HiiT here.
In Zone for, intensity increases, and your heart rate will climb towards, and beyond 90% of maximum. Blood lactate will be forming fast, and it may feel unmanageable. It’s hard to sustain this zone, even for the short (less than 10 minutes) periods recommended. 2-4 minutes is about all you can expect of yourself, unless you are a professional athlete. This is not the time to talk, and you probably won’t be able to anyway; you will be totally focused on what you are doing to sustain this heart rate level. This, and zone 5, are considered unsustainable levels of effort. Zone 5 is experienced as the last push of effort that will cause total system fatigue, forcing the body to stop. Zone 4 is about 93% of HRR pushing up toward 100%.
HR Zones Calculator
Heart Rate Zone 5
Zone 5 is the time when you are completely exhausted, and all you want to do is stop. It is considered unsustainable, and it’s really just the last couple of minutes of the most intense exercising before your body forces you to stop. It is basically the extension of zone 4, before a recovery period in zones 1 and 2. Exercising in zone 5 is really tough and can only be maintained for less than 2 minutes. You cannot speak in zone 5, and will feel your body straining for oxygen to nourish muscle taxed to the maximum, as well as maxed out blood lactate levels. High heart rate and heavy breathing are the hallmarks of this zone. Recovery is something you need, not just something you want. Zone 5 is 100% of HRR.
The types of exercises that get you to zone 5 are the same as zone 4, just the last couple of minutes that most tax your heart rate and aspiration levels. Activities such as running, sprinting, spinning, heavy weight lifting (the last couple of repetitions in a set), and any other activity that is unsustainable, makes you unable to speak, and when you get to the breaking point where all you can do is a final push before stopping, exhausted. You will want an accurate monitor of your heart rate to be able to safely work out in zone 5, even for short intervals. Highly recommended is the Heal Force Portable. This is really a serious piece of medical equipment. It is for those of you for whom it is essential to not overdue the strain on the heart of such a high heart rate. Check it out here: https://www.cardiocritic.com/heart-rate-monitors/heal-force/portable-ecg-review/
Both zone 4 and zone 5 are here to help you improve your performance and compete at your top potential. To achieve this you will have to train in heart rate zones 4 and 5.
In these zones, you exercise anaerobically, in intervals of up to 10 minutes. The shorter the interval, the higher the intensity.
Sufficient recovery between intervals is very important. It is unlikely when training in zone 5 that you will be able to hold much more than a single word conversation, maybe just a nod and a grunt.
The training pattern in zones 4 and 5 is designed to produce peak performance.
Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) Calculation
Get your max heart rate by doing a trial max. Wear a monitor, and do a full warm up (this will reduce stress on your heart). Then go for maximum effort, by treadmill running as fast as you can, walking uphill (for those who don’t run), or using a bike or stationary bike.
- Get your resting heart rate by taking your heart rate first thing in the morning when you wake up, before getting out of bed.
- Calculate your heart rate reserve: this is the value when subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
- Find your zones. Depending on the workout, the zone you will target will change. Sprint days will target a different zone than long easy days.
Example Heart Rate Reserve Calculation For A Fit, 50 Year Old Man
Max Heart Rate: 183
Resting Heart Rate: 60
Heart Rate Reserve: 123
Easy Run Target 65% of HRR: 123 x 0.65% = 79.95 + 60 (resting heart rate) = 140 BPM target heart rate.
The General Heart Rate Zones
Zone 1: 60-70% of HRR: this is a comfortable effort; all day pace, warm up and cool down pace.
Zone 2: 70-80% of HRR: This zone is comfortable enough to be able to sustain while holding a conversation. Most endurance athletes spend about 80% of their training time in Zone 2.
Zone 3: 81-93% of HRR: This zone is harder and takes more mental effort to sustain. Most people will automatically drift back toward Zone 2 if they are not focused on staying in this zone. That is why monitoring your heart rate is so helpful.
Zone 4 (and Zone 5 for the last up to 2 minutes of maximum effort and heart rate): 94-100%: This zone is unsustainable; as you get toward 100% your ventilation will not be able to keep up with the work done, and recovery will be needed soon. Most people can sustain this zone for 30-120 seconds. Most interval training (HIIT) is done in this zone with recovery in Zone 1 or 2.
Heart Rate Zone FAQ
Q1: What are the 5 heart rate zones?
A1: According to Polar's Sports Zones, the 5 heart rate zones are:
- 50-60% of your maximum heart rate
Q2: How do I determine my heart rate zones?
A2: It's very easy to calculate your heart rate zones. This is how:
- 220 minus your age...or is no longer accurate anymore? Read this max HR calculator article here to determine which method you want to use.
EXAMPLE: For simplicity's sake, let's use the easily calculation and say you're 30 years old.
220 - 30 = 190 is your maximum heart rate.
- Use our Heart Rate Zone Calculator (below) to determine your 5 training zones.
EXAMPLE: With 190 as your max HR, here are the 5 zones:
1 50-60% = 95-113 beats per minute
2 60-70% = 114-132 bpm
3 70-80% = 133-151 bpm
4 80-90% = 152-170 bpm
5 90-100% = 171-190 bpm
- Buy a fitness tracker (we recommend the Polar M430!) so it can monitor when and for how long you're in your heart rate zones when you're training.
Q3: What is the best heart rate to burn fat?
A3: The best heart rate to burn fat is around 70%, so that's high end of zone 2 and low end of zone 3. This is known as the "fat-burning zone"
For example, if we determine our Max HR is 190, then we should aim for (70% x 190 =) 133.
Q4: Is [73/55/70/insert number] a good resting heart rate?
A4: For most, a normal Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). If it's on the high end, then it means that your heart is working harder to pump blood throughout your body. If you're quite fit, your RHR may be 40-60. More and more experts nowadays are saying that the ideal is 50-70.
Q5: Is it dangerous to exceed maximum heart rate?
A5: Yes, it could be dangerous to exceed your max HR, so we wouldn't recommend you to. Especially if you have coronary or cardiovascular issues.
Unless you've cleared it with your physician, are a trained athlete, and are doing the exercises under close supervision.
By now, you should be able to accurately calculate your Heart Rate Training Zone with our Heart Rate Zone Calculator.
It is very important to know your correct HR training zone in order to achieve your ultimate training results. This will prevent you from over-training and reduce the risk of fatigue.
Following the correct training zone enable you to train at different intensities accordingly.
So, how can you monitor your heart rate while you're running or cycling vigorously?
We highly recommend you to check out this in-depth review of Polar M430 wrist-based heart rate GPS watch, for sure, it won't let you down.