How to calculate your heart rate zone correctly and why know it?

Even the speed of losing weight depends on it

We often perform habitual actions and do not think about why this happens. Think back to when you were walking up the escalator one day and you felt your heart begin to beat faster in your chest, your breathing became labored… How often can it beat? And how often can our breathing be? Let’s go over the science together with Lev Pozdnyakov, the founder of studios, personal trainer, methodologist of RUSSIAN FITNESS COMMUNITY fitness school and the presenter of SN PRO EXPO FORUM, the International Festival of HLS and sports.

Heart rate (or pulse) is the number of beats the heart makes in a minute, pumping blood around the body, providing muscle fibers and other body cells with oxygen.

Why do I need to know my heart rate?

Knowing your heart rate at the time of exercise allows you to assess how intense your workout is and, if necessary, adjust the intensity to suit your goals – to make it more effective and safer.

How do I know my heart rate?

You can find your heart rate by pressing on the carotid artery in your neck and counting the number of beats per minute.

During a workout, it’s difficult to constantly look for the artery with shaking hands, and this is where gadgets come to our aid.

Chest Sensor. Fixes to your chest, synchronizes with a special watch and constantly scans your heart rate. It is the most reliable meter.

Optical Sensor. A watch with an LED on the wrist side. Reads your pulse by scanning the capillary walls on your wrist. The sensor works well if the watch is firmly fixed on the hand. During an active workout, it can shift, which can change the reading. Almost all modern smart watches now have this sensor and keep statistics.

Today, some modern fitness clubs and group program studios are equipped with sensors and monitors. You come to a workout, fill out a special questionnaire and get a chest sensor at the entrance. During your workout you control your intensity level on special monitors that display information on heart rate zones, your current heart rate, intensity points and how many calories you have burned.

What are heart rate zones?

Zones are calculated as a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Your resting heart rate usually ranges from 60-100 beats per minute. Professional athletes (e.g., marathon runners) range from 40-60.

If your heart rate goes higher, you can consider it a workout! By exercising in different zones, you can pursue different goals:

“Gray” zone

Low Intensity Zone – 50-60% of your maximum heart rate reading. This is the zone where you should start your workout to prepare your heart for the load. You can return to this zone during your workout between high and very high intensity phases.

If you are training for muscle mass growth in the gym, returning to the gray zone will signal that it is time to make a new approach.

“Blue Zone”

A low-intensity fitness zone, 60-70% of your maximum. When you work out in this zone, your energy source is fatty acids, which are perfectly oxidized by oxygen at this heart rate. So if you are a beginner and want to lose weight – here you are!

“Green” zone”

Medium Intensity Zone. The aerobic zone is 70-80% of maximum.

In this zone, in addition to weight loss, we can improve aerobic endurance performance!

“Yellow” zone”

High Intensity Zone. Anaerobic zone, 80-90% of maximum. This is where the oxygen-free energy supply mechanism comes into play. You cannot lose weight here, but you can significantly develop MPK (maximum oxygen consumption), and GEL (vital capacity of lungs), and next time you won’t feel so suffocated on the escalator.

“Red Zone”

Anaerobic zone of maximum intensity, 90% to 100% of maximum. Amateurs are not recommended to stay in it for more than 30-60 seconds, and beginners should not do it without the control of a trainer. Training in this zone will help you significantly improve your endurance, BMC and especially GER, get very close and shift your limits!

How is the heart rate zone calculated?

To do this, you need to calculate the MHR, and many parameters influence this – gender, age, height, activity, etc.

There are various formulas to calculate it, for example 220 – age, or Karvonen formula. But, as practice shows, they are not objective, because everyone is different.

So the best way to find out is by experience:

The Pozdniakov Test

When you’re feeling rested and in good shape, do a light stretch, walk for a minute, run for 3 minutes in the green zone, and then do 3 consecutive sprints of 20 seconds each with 20-30 second rest intervals. Each subsequent sprint should be faster than the previous one, and on the last one your speed will be maximum. The heart rate that ended up in the last seconds of the third sprint is your maximum heart rate, and you can adjust zones from it.

In any case, we recommend doing a full examination of your heart before you start training and understand your baseline. Remember, smart fitness is always the best solution!