We all get excited once we’re about to start our fitness routine. We go shopping for the best sneakers and everything we’d need to work out like a pro. However, what if your health tracker reminds you that you need to hit your heart rate zone, but you don’t even know what that is? You might feel like you know nothing about health and wellness, but there’s no need for that.
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about heart rate zones. You shall also learn whether they’re vital for you in your training plan or not.
What are heart rate zones?
These are a percentage of your heartbeats per minute (maximum heart rate). You’ll notice that when the intensity of your exercise is too high, and you get too close to your max heart rate, your heart and body won’t be able to keep up with it, and they’ll struggle a lot. Heart rate zones are meant to make you more productive during your exercise program and challenge you to get on the right track with your cardiovascular fitness.
Exercise heart rate zones are the exercise levels established using your max heart rate. As you increase your exercise intensity while burning fat, you continue increasing the pressure on your heart. There are different zones, and they include:
Lower intensity zone
Lower intensity training zones involve exercising at approximately 50% to 60% of your maximum heart rate. At this level, you’re only burning fat. The only drawback is you don’t burn as many calories as you would if you exercised at a higher intensity. However, you should be able to endure this level for a long time.
You’re exercising at approximately 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate at this zone. As a result, you are at a higher level of burning fat. Approximately 65% of the calories you’ll burn are fat.
You get to the aerobic zone when exercising at 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. 45% of all the calories you burn are fat. However, in this zone, you burn more calories than in all the other heart rate zones. Unfortunately, you can only endure this zone for a short while.
How do you figure out your heart rate zones?
When you maintain the right exercise intensity, you can benefit most from staying physically active. You should ensure you aren’t doing too little or pushing too hard. Consider using an online calculator to find out your heart rate zone. You can also use this simple method below to calculate the numbers yourself. Here’s how you can determine your target heart rate zone.
- Take the number 220 and subtract your age. That number is your max heart rate.
- Next, you need to count your number of heartbeats per minute to determine your resting heart rate. Again, this is best done in the morning. The average number of heartbeats per minute for an adult is usually 60-100 beats per minute.
- Take your max heart rate and subtract your resting heart rate. This is your (HRR) heart rate reserve.
- Multiply the result of your HRR by 0.7 (70%) and add the number you calculated for your resting heart rate.
- Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85%). Next, add the number you came up with as your resting heart rate.
- These numbers are your average target heart rate zone.
For those not feeling like calculating manually, some calculators are available online to help you define what are the proper zones depending on your age. Try this one by MyProCoach that we found easy to use and very informative. The website Runbundle also offers numerous free online calculators that may be more precise than the ones classically used. This one, for example, also includes fat-burning zones for men and women and suggestions for personalized training sessions based on the zones.
Is it harmful to workout and exceed your target heart rate?
If you go beyond your workout target heart rate, you might suffer some harmful consequences. For example, when you exceed 85% of your target heart rate, you might get sore muscles and joints. In addition, you’ll be at risk of overtraining, which may discourage you from achieving your weight loss goals or exercising to your full potential.
You end up being very unproductive altogether. If you suffer from vascular disease or take medications that might lower your heart rate, you should consult your physician. It’s also possible to go beyond the maximum range of your zones without suffering from any harmful physical impact if you don’t have coronary artery disease or are at risk of a heart attack.
Are wearable devices helpful in checking on your heart rate zones?
A person’s heart rate is a crucial indicator of the heart rate zone. Heart rate monitors measure electrical signals from your heart. Different wearables allow you to analyze data through a computer, and the data allows you to interpret your workout intensity. One of the best heart rate monitors is the Scosche Rhythm+. It has advanced optical sensors that offer precise BPM readings so you can stay within your zones.
Which heart rate zone is best for fat burning?
In general, when you have a high heart rate, your body will be able to burn more fat compared to other sources of calories, like carbohydrates. Due to this, many people believe that getting to and staying in the fat-burning heart rate zone is the best way to burn more fat and lose weight.
However, the different heart rate zones have considerable overlap. Therefore, it’s possible to get similar results from different heart rates, as long as you’re working out. However, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) cautions against depending too much on the fat-burning heart rate.
To wrap up
When you want to achieve the best results from exercising, you must work out at the proper level of intensity. This goes hand in hand with learning about the different heart rate zones and what they are. Therefore, learning to figure out your heart rate zones is also important.
If you feel you’re not at any level of exertion, or maybe your heart rate is too low, you can try to step things up to a more intense fat-burning zone. Also, if you feel like you are working too hard, increasing your heart rate beyond a safe range, you can consider backing off a bit. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise program.