When it comes to training, working out in your target heart-rate zone can help you achieve your fitness goals and improve the health and efficiency of your heart. The tricky part is that they are different for everyone. Thankfully, there are ways to find out what your target zones are. Here is our quick guide to determining and training in your personal target heart-rate zone.
Determine Your Zone
Different training zones are determined by percentages of your personal max heart rate. Most heart-rate trackers will calculate the zones for you, but you can also calculate them yourself.
- Low-intensity workouts are the best for burning fat. Keep your heart rate at 35 to 50 percent of your max heart rate.
- Moderate-intensity workouts are best for helping you build endurance. Keep your heart rate at 50 to 70 percent of your max heart rate.
- High-intensity workouts are best for developing speed and power. Keep your heart rate at 70 to 90 percent of your max heart rate.
To calculate your max heart rate there are two common formulas, according to Shape.com.
- 220 minus your age or
- 201 minus (your age times .7)
You can also do a step test on any cardio machine while wearing a heart-rate monitor. If you’re using a treadmill, you would run for one minute at an easy pace. Continue increasing your pace by .5 and run for an additional minute. When you reach a pace you cannot sustain for one full minute, check your heart rate. This will be your max heart rate. You can calculate different intensity zones using that number.
Once you have your max heart rate calculated, you can figure out where your heart rate needs to be to get to different intensity workouts.
Heart.org provides a handy chart that can give you a general guide to your target heart rate.
You can use any tracking device that tracks beats per minute to help you figure out what zone you’re training in during your workout.
Gauging Intensity by How You Feel
If you don’t have a heart-rate tracker, you can use your body’s signals to help you gauge how intense your exercise is. Here is how you will feel at different exercise intensities.
- Moderate-intensity exercise will make your breath quicken, but you won’t be out of breath. You will lightly sweat after about 10 minutes of exercise. You have enough breath to carry on a conversation but not to sing.
- Vigorous-intensity exercise will make your breath deep and rapid. You will sweat after only a few minutes of activity. You have enough breath to say only a few words before you must pause.
- Overexertion will make you short of breath. If you experience pain or can’t work out for the length of time you planned, you are likely overexerting yourself for your current fitness level. Lower your intensity and build your conditioning more gradually.
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