Calculating your Heart Rate Zone

1.  Find your max heart rate.  For men, subtract your age from 220.  For women, subtract your age from 227.

Example: 220-26 = 194 max heart rate

2.  Understand what your goals are and which heart rate zone you want to target.

Example:  194 x .80(80% max heart rate zone) = 155

  • 60%-70% – Training in this zone will help develop basic endurance aerobic capacity.  Recovery running should be completed no higher than 70% of your max heart rate.  You will easily be burning fat in this zone.
  • 70%-80% – The aerobic zone.  This is the zone for building up your cardiovascular system.  While training in this zone, your body becomes more efficient at transporting oxygen to, and carbon dioxide away from working muscles.  It may be possible to get some fat burning benefits and develop your cardiovascular system simultaneously.
  • 80%-90% – The anaerobic zone.  Training here develops your lactic acid system.  At this zone, your body begins using glycogen stored in muscles in place of fat as a main source of fuel.  This isn’t to say you aren’t burning fat and calories however.  Burned glycogen leads to a buildup of lactic acid in the body.  The point at which the body cannot remove excess lactic acid is called your anaerobic threshold.  By training intensely in this zone you will be able to delay or raise your anaerobic threshold, allowing your muscles to work longer and harder.
  • 90%-100% – The red line zone.  It is not possible to train in this zone for extended periods.  Training here is usually accomplished by very intense exercise and/or bursts of all out sprinting.  This zone will train your fast twitch muscle fibers and develops your speed.  Training with the HIIT is a great way to hit the red line zone.

3.  Other factors can influence your heart rate and which zone you are training in.

  • Dehydration can increase your heart rate by 7.5%.
  • Hot and humid conditions can raise your heart rate by 10 beats a minute.
  • High altitude may raise your heart rate 10-20%
  • Genetic factors can influence your heart rate by 2-4 beats per minute.
  • Certain medications can potentially affect your heart rate when you exercise.

By understanding the heart rate zones and how to calculate your own heart rate, you will be able to train in the zone that most benefits your goals.


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