Your body’s demand for oxygen rises when exercise intensifies: this means that your heart rate (which is the number of heart beats per unit of time) will increase or descrease depending on your exercise intensity. Monitoring your heart rate allows you to measure and assess just how much your body is working, giving you a greater control over your work out plans and structures. It allows you to target the necessary intensity levels you need to achieve your desired endurance, strength and speed goals – or, alternatively, you can control your intensity levels to prevent over training and promote recovery.
While some devices measure heart rates, they usually use an estimate of average heart rates: it’s is important to know that heart rates are different for everyone and are key to establishing which ‘zones’ you should be training in.
What is a heart rate zone?
A “zone” identifies different heart rate groups that are suppose to target specific training outcomes.
Below is a table of zones:
|Warm Up Zone: 50% -60%
Recovery Zone – 60% to 70%
Aerobic Zone – 70% to 80%
Anaerobic Zone – 70% to 80%
We warm up zoneis slow, steady, and very easy on the body. It’s meant to start your blood pumping and prepare for more intensity.Training within the recovery zonedevelops basic endurance and aerobic capacity. All easy recovery running should be completed at a maximum of 70%. Another advantage to running in this zone is that while you are happily burning fat you may lose weight and you will be allowing your muscles to re-energise with glycogen, which has been expended during those faster paced workout.
Training in the Aerobic zone will develop and improve your cardiovascular system, allowing you to increase your overall endurance.
Anaerobic exercise is exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism: it promotes strength, speed and power, building muscle mass. This also leads to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities
What can effect my heart rate zones?
- Fitness level: for example Lance Armstrong is rumored to have a resting heart rate of 32 beats per minute consider the typical resting heart rate in adults is 60-90 bpm
- Activity you are partaking in: for example if you did your heart rate testing whilst running, you may find that your heart rate in each zone may be slower in for the same zones whilst cycling
So what is the most specific way to determine your specific heart rates? Lactic acid testing, VO2 testing, and cardiac stress testing are the most accurate way to determine your heart rate. These may be costly and inconvenient, hwoever, so other methods have been developed, though these are not as accurate, but for the purpose of training are generally adequate.
We cover a simple process for determining your heart rates in the follow up article here: