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Understanding heart rate zone training can be quite tricky at first but once you understand the basics of how it all works, heart rate training could be your golden key to improved fitness, weight loss and muscle management. To wrap your head around this type of training, think of your heart as an engine. Like an engine, your heart has different gears or zones that offer different speed, power and endurance. Fortunately, unlike an engine, your heart is a muscle which means that you can train it to be comfortable at higher speeds with more power for longer; this is where heart zone training comes in.  

What is heart rate zone training?

Training zones refer to the intensity at which you are training at. Training at different intensities brings about different physiological adaptations, which means that you can strengthen and train your body accordingly. Ultimately, zone training gives you the ability to target specific health and training goals. Below is a basic understanding of the different zones; 1 through 5.

  • Zone 1: Typically this zone exists at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Zone 1 is considered to be very light effort with low intensity and will aid in boosting your recovery to prep your body to train at higher heart rate zones. Training in this zone helps decrease body fat and lower blood pressure.
  • Zone 2: Zone 2 exists at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This zone is also fairly light but it is known to improve general endurance and burn fat when sustained for longer intervals.
  • Zone 3: This zone exists at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate and is considered to be an “above average effort” training zone. Training in this zone is the preferred zone for endurance training.
  • Zone 4: In this zone you’ll be pushing at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. This zone requires hard effort and is great for improving speed. Your body will also get better at using carbohydrates for energy at this level.
  • Zone 5: This is your maximum zone as you’ll be averaging at 90 to 100 percent. In this zone, you’ll be pushing as hard as you can which will effectively active your fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve your strength, power and endurance. Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, you should only stay in this zone for short periods of time because of its high intensity.

How can I determine my Maximum Heart Rate?

As an estimate, your maximum heart rate can be determined with a simple math equation; 220 minus your age. While this formula is not completely foolproof, it should give you a good idea of what your maximum heart rate is.

For a more accurate method of determining your maximum heart rate, come and chat to one of the trainers at FITstrong gym in Durbanville, Cape Town. We will give you just the right test to help you accurately determine your maximum heart rate zone.

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