Heart Rate Zone Breakdown

In yesterday’s article, I went over the procedure for the lactate threshold test.  When you have your heart rate (HR), you can now find each exact zone.  There are a total of 5 zones and each one can be utilized for individual workouts.

Let’s break down each one:

Zone 1 – Under 83% of Lactate Threshold – This is mostly a recovery zone.  You can use this for warm up, cool downs and for active recovery at the end of the week.  The fuel source is fat.

Zone 2 – 83% to 89% – This range of HR is great for longer aerobic workouts to build your cardiovascular foundation.  At this HR, people who haven’t trained much will see the heart is learning to pump blood more efficiently and oxygen uptake improved.  Just like in the first zone, fat is still a major supplier of energy.

Zone 3 – 89% to 93% – Now you are starting to get into the higher end of the aerobic portion.  Once you get past this point, things switch from the fuel source being fat, to more and more carbohydrates. However, by staying in this HR range, the body eventually begins to use fat more than glucose to use energy more proficiently.  You will see improvements in both duration and intensity in your cardio from training in this zone frequently.

Zone 4 – 93% to 100% – When you reach this level, the body converts from fats to carbohydrates as the fuel source.  The body can no longer supply the skeletal muscles with enough oxygen, so there is a buildup of lactic acid.  You are now reaching the anaerobic threshold.  To train in this HR zone, you must make sure the duration is short like in intervals.  The longer you spend in the zone, the better you will be able to tolerate the lactic acid.

Zone 5 – 100% and above – This is the equivalent of holding the throttle wide open on your bike.  You fatigue quickly and lactic acid is builds up extremely quickly.  The fuel source is only carbohydrates and not many people can stay in this zone for very long.

With all of the zones and percentages laid out, you should be able to train smarter, not harder.  You don’t have to kill yourself in order to build a solid aerobic base.  The rule of thumb to remember is that the higher the intensity, the lower the duration.


Posted on Jul 27 2011, under Training | No Comments »

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