Woman on a treadmillTraining zones

If you're trying to make the most out of your exercise sessions, you need to be in the right zone.

Healthy Heart Zone (warm-up): 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate
The easiest zone to achieve, this level is ideal for people just starting a fitness program or as a warm-up for more serious walkers. It's been shown to decrease the risk of degenerative diseases, while helping to lower body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. Providing a low risk for injury, 85% of calories burned in this zone are from fats!

Fitness Zone (fat burning): 60 – 70 % of maximum heart rate
This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, however it's more intense and burns more total calories. As with the Healthy Heart Zone, 85% of calories burned in this zone are from fat!.

Aerobic Zone (endurance training): 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate
The Aerobic Zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, while increasing the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone when training for an endurance event. More total calories are burned than during the lower zones with 50% coming from fat.

Anaerobic Zone (performance training): 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate
Benefits of training in this zone include an improved VO² maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardio respiratory system. Additionally, you'll develop a higher lactate tolerance, which will improve your endurance and the ability to better fight fatigue. This high intensity zone burns more calories – of which 15% are from fat.

Red Line (maximum effort): 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate
Although this zone burns the highest amount of calories, it's very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods of time. The caution: you should only train at this level if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

Calculating your Target Training Zone

The following method of calculating your Target Training Zone is based on your maximal heart rate and resting pulse. Using Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) and Maximum Heart Rate (MaxHR), here are the steps:

1) Take your resting pulse 3 mornings in a row, just after waking up. Add the 3 numbers together, and then divide by 3 to get an average.

Day 1 ______ + Day 2 ______ + Day 3 ______ = ______

Divide the total by 3 = _______ for your average resting heart rate.

2) (220) – (your age) = MaxHR 220 – ______ = ______

3) (MaxHR) – (resting heart rate) = HRR _____ – ______ = ______

4) (HRR) x (50% to 60%) = Training Range % _____ x ______ = ______ Perform this calculation for both the bottom and top of your training zone.

  • Healthy Heart Zone/warm-up 50 – 60%
  • Fitness Zone/fat burning 60 – 70%
  • Aerobic Zone/endurance training 70 – 80%
  • Anaerobic Zone/performance training 80 – 90%
  • Red Line/maximum effort 90 – 100%

5) (Training Range %) + (resting heart rate) = Target Training Zone Perform this calculation for both the bottom and top of your training zone.

The following example uses a 25 year-old female (average resting heart rate is 61)

  1. Calculate your average resting heart rate.
  2. 220 – 25 = 195 (Max HR)
  3. 195 – 61 (average resting heart rate) = 134 (HRR)
  4. 134 x .5 = 67 (50% training percentage)
    134 x .6 = 80 (60% training percentage)
  5. 67 + 61 = 128 (Target Training Zone – low end; beats per minute)
    80 + 61 = 141 (Target Training Zone – high end; beats per minute)

The calculated Targeted Training Zone in beats per minute is 128 to 141. Using a 15-second calculation (as compared to 60 seconds), simple divide the Training Zone numbers by 4. In this example, the range would be 32 to 35 beats over 15 seconds.

When counting beats, start with the first beat as zero (ie, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4... 38, 39, 40,.)