Researchers have long been trying to figure out the best ways of measuring training intensity. A heart rate training zones calculator is an excellent tracking tool to determine your exercise intensity.
It can help you to understand the correct training zone based on your fitness goals. And it works incredibly well to track your heart rate.
Research suggests that our heart rate scales proportionally to our level of effort, so we can use it as a measure of our training intensity.
What are Heart Rate Training Zones
Okay, so our heart rate does a great job of reflecting our level of intensity. The question is, how do we interpret the value? Well, there are several training zones, each indicating a level of effort based on how close you are to your maximum heart rate (MHR).
So, what are they?
The Five Heart Rate Training Zones
The following table shows the heart rate training zones based on the level of intensity.
Zone | % of MHR (Max Heart Rate) | Intensity | Description
|Zone||% of MHR||Workout Intensity||Description|
|Zone 5||90-100%||Maximum Intensity||Helps fit athletes increase speed; Very short durations|
|Zone 4||80-90%||Anaerobic||Increases Max Performance; Shorter durations|
|Zone 3||70-80%||Aerobic||Improves aerobic conditioning|
|Zone 2||60-70%||Weight Control||Improves endurance and fat burning; longer durations|
|Zone 1||50-60%||Warm-up||Improves overall health; ideal for warm-up and recovery|
Example Finding Your Heart Rate Training Zone
Fitness Goal: Weight Loss
MHR = Max Heart Rate (beats per minute)
MHR = 220 – 40 = 180
So, MHR = 180 beats per minute
For weight loss, you want to be in the 60-70% heart rate training zone (Zone 2), so your training heart rate should be:
.6 x 180 = 108 (this is 60% of MHR)
.7 x 180 = 126 (this is 70% of MHR)
Your heart rate training zone would be 108 to 126 beats per minute, which is Zone 2.
The five heart rate training zones are important to understand, as they affect your fitness goals:
Zone 1 – Warm-up and Recovery
This is the best zone for warm-up before your workout. This is also known as the active recovery zone, and is useful after a demanding training cycle or competition. Heart rate is typically 50-60% of MHR in Zone 1, and the goal is to complete light and short workouts, or warm-up. This is an ideal zone for the novice, all the way up to the fitness buff. (1)
Zone 2 – Weight Control
Zone 2 is the perfect heart rate training zone for fat burning and weight loss, and is 60-70% of MHR. A beginner can train around 60% and gradually increase the intensity to 70% once they gain experience an improved fitness. It is an ideal zone for weight loss primarily because you can exercise in this zone for a longer time (30 minutes plus), at a moderately intense level.
Zone 3 – Aerobic Conditioning
Zone 3 improves aerobic conditioning, and is 70-80% of MHR. This is an ideal zone to increase endurance, and increases lung capacity. As the training zones get more intense, the workout duration gets shorter. An upper-middle or higher fitness level is recommended for this zone.
Zone 4 – Anaerobic Conditioning
This training is done at 80-90% of MHR, and is the target heart rate training zone for max performance capacity. This is a high intensity zone with shorter workout periods. This zone should only be attempted by experienced fitness buffs. Click to learn more about anaerobic exercise. (2)
Zone 5 – Maximum Intensity
Zone 5 is a max intensity heart rate training zone, and is 90-100% of your MHR. This is where you do high-intensity training for very short periods, and push your heart rate close to your MHR. Do not consider this training zone unless you have extensive experience in high-level exercise routines. It is a noble goal to strive for if you are at a beginner or intermediate fitness level.
How Our Heart Rate Training Zone Changes As We Age
This is quite a nuanced discussion, and there are many variables to consider. But, under normal circumstances and healthy aging, the primary thing that changes is our maximum heart rate. And max heart rate affects the heart rate training zones calculator.
How to Find The Best Training Zone, Based On Your Fitness Goals
To keep things simple, we’ll take a look at two of the most common scenarios:
- Training for fat loss
- Training for intensity
For fat loss, we should keep our heart rate between 50 and 70 percent of our MHR. Meaning, if you have an MHR of 190, you should do most of your training between 95 and 142 beats per minute. If you’re a beginner, start on the lower end and gradually work your way up to 70 percent. This process is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
For higher intensity (like HIIT workouts), you should keep your heart rate between 75 and 90 percent of your MHR, and avoid doing too much work too close to your MHR. An excellent place to start is at about 80 percent for HIIT-type workouts. Check out this simple HIIT workout.
Click for cardio workouts.
- TriGuyCoaching. (2021, November 22). What does active recovery actually mean? how to define a recovery ride or run. Breaking Muscle. https://breakingmuscle.com/what-does-active-recovery-actually-mean-how-to-define-a-recovery-ride-or-run/
Kelly, E. (2019, March 7). Want to really feel the burn? try anaerobic exercise! Healthline.