What exactly is heart rate zone training? To know your heart rates and to determine which zone you are in/want to be in it’s a good idea to get a fitness monitor or tracker. When you exercise or train using your heart-rate monitor, you can aim to work out within a specific heart rate zone. Working within a certain “zone” simply means you are falling within a particular percentage of your heart rate during every workout, and with each zone comes benefits and reactions in the body.
Getting a heart rate monitor
If you are looking at investing in a heart-rate monitor to track your training zones it’s best to talk with your doctor or exercise physiologist to discuss any and all medications and supplements you’re taking and what individual impact those can potentially have on your readings.
Tracking your heart rate ensures you are working hard enough to benefit from your efforts – it’s a constant form of information. If you are a beginner you should choose a target heart-rate zone ideally between 65 and 75% of maximum heart rate and remain in it for the workout. Runners who are new to it and don’t have a strong sense of their speed and effort can learn from their heart rate monitor.
If you are looking for a formula to work out your maximum heart rate, these two formulas will prove pretty accurate:
(A) MHR = 208 – (.7 x your age)
(B) MHR = 205 – (.5 x your age)
So what does this mean?
If you are a runner and you train within the 65 to 80% maximum heart rate for most of your runs and 90% or more as you sprint the last few metres of the race finish, your heart rate should fall into zone 1 or 2.
HR zones and effects on your training
Zone 1 – The Energy Efficient or Recovery Zone – 60% to 70%
Zone 1 is known for developing basic endurance and aerobic capacity. If you are a keen runner then easy running recovery training should be completed at a maximum of 70% putting you into zone 1. What’s more is that running or training in this zone is excellent for burning fat and speeding up your metabolism helping you to lose weight lose. Also you will be allowing your muscles to re-fuel with the all-important glycogen, which has been depleted during those beast mode workouts!
Zone 2 – The Aerobic Zone – 70% to 80%
Zone 2 is known as the aerobic zone because it helps to develop your cardiovascular system. Your heart will become stronger and will be able to pump oxygenated blood around your system more efficiently. As your body becomes more capable, efficient and tougher from training in this zone it will allow you to run some of your longer runs at up to 75% – this will allow you to enjoy better aerobic capacity and fat burning too.
Zone 3 – The Anaerobic Zone – 80% to 90%
Zone 3, or the aerobic zone has its name because it allows your body to perform and train without oxygen, using lactic acid instead. Training in this zone will highly develop your lactic acid system. In zone 3, your individual anaerobic threshold (AT) is found, often called the point of deflection (POD). During this heart rate zone, your body uses the glycogen stores in your muscles to fuel your body. One of the by-products of burning this glycogen is a substance called lactic acid. You will probably be familiar with the point at which your body can’t remove the lactic acid from your working muscles quickly enough. This is your anaerobic threshold (AT) and you may know it as getting a ‘stitch’ a painful burning in your muscle.
Through optimised training, it is possible to delay the AT by being able to increase your bodies ability to deal with the lactic acid for a longer period of time or by pushing the AT higher.
Zone 4 – The Red Line Zone 90% to 100%
Zone 4 isn’t a sustainable training zone as is only doable for short bursts of exercise. Zone 4 training effectively trains those fast twitch muscle fibres and helps to develop speed. This zone is reserved for sprinters and interval running. It takes time to become fit in this zone and only the very fit are able to train effectively within this zone. It stimulates muscular growth greatly.
Dangers of overtraining
Over training is a very real thing and it can happen more often than you think. The truth is, sometimes what we do to get healthy and become the fittest we’ve ever been can actually push us past our physical limits. Your central nervous system can become weak and battered if you train too hard which leads to you feeling tired, lethargic and totally void of all energy!
So how do you know if you have been over training?
The signs and symptoms of over training aren’t limited to what’s written below. Below are the most common dangers and signs of over training:
- Prolonged injuries like strains, pulls or tendinitis
- Illnesses such as colds and bugs becoming more frequent
- Decreased performance (getting slower or weaker)
- The absence of periods in women
- Chronic fatigue
- Rapid loss of lean body weight (weight loss without body fat loss).
- Increase in morning resting heart rate
With any exercise plan or training regime such as heart rate training it’s important to understand to not push your body too hard so you over train. Always look after your body and have proper rest days so that you can recover and repair and you are always ready to fight another day!