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Training Heart Rate

Your training heart rate zone is a critical element in exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that your pulse reach 55 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate when you exercise.  Taking your pulse and figuring your heart rate during a workout is one of the primary indicators in ascertaining the intensity level at which you and your heart is working. There are many ways to measure exercise intensity but one of the most common and easy methods is to use an age predicted formula to determine your maximum heart rate and then set your target heart rate range based upon a percentage of your predicted maximum.  For safety reasons, it is not advisable to workout near your maximum predicted heart rate.

Measuring Your Heart Rate

Wearing a heart rate monitor is an easy, accurate method of checking your heart rate... but you don't have a monitor. Here is another easy way.

The easiest place to feel your own heart beat is the carotid artery. Place your index finger on the side of your neck between the middle of your collar bone and your jaw line. (You may also use the radial artery on the under side of your wrist.) You can count the beats for a full 60 seconds or count for 6 seconds and add a zero at the end. If you felt your heart beat 14 times in 6 seconds the number would be 140 for a full 60 seconds. Counting for only six seconds is a convenient method, of course it is more accurate to count for the full 60 seconds. You can use several varieties of this method (30 seconds x 2, 15 seconds x 4, etc.). The longer you count the more accurate your reading. Whatever you choose, be consistent in your method.

Training Zones

Maximum Heart Rate:  220 - Age

Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) --- 50 - 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm up for more serious walkers. This zone has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are fats!

Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) --- 60 - 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.

Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) --- 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.

Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) --- 80 - 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you'll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more calories, 15 % from fat.

Red Line (Maximum Effort) --- 90 - 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

Target Range Calculator

Calculates percent range of maximum heart rate or heart rate reserve based upon either actual maximum heart rate or age predicted heart rate.

1) Enter information in left column

  • Select high and percent heart rate ranges

  • Enter age or actual maximum heart rate if known

  • Enter resting heart rate if percent range of heart rate reserve is desired.

    • Leave blank if percent of maximum heart rate is desired

2) Click "Calculate"


Age or Maximum Heart Rate

Resting Heart Rate (optional)

Training Zone Low Zone Rate High Zone Rate
Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) --- 50 - 60% bpm bpm
Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) --- 60 - 70% bpm bpm
Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) --- 70 - 80% bpm bpm
Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) --- 80 - 90% bpm bpm
Red Line (Maximum Effort) --- 90 - 100% bpm bpm




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