How to train in the right zone?


Learning to train in the correct Heart Rate (HR) zone is very important for a number of reasons. Primarily to obtain optimal results for your hard effort, but also to try and minimise the risk of injuries. Many people these days carry a heart rate monitor when running or cycling, yet how many of us actually know what our heart rate should be during exercise?


In order to determine your target heart rate (THR) you need to do a couple of calculations. First of all you need to measure your resting heart rate (RHR) with a heart rate monitor, and whilst doing that you can draw out the following equation. Sit down for a few minutes and see what your average resting heart rate is for a period of 5 to 10 minutes.

THR = RHR + (0.6 x [MHR - RHR])

This Equation is the so called 'Karvonen equation' as it takes into consideration the current level of fitness of the athlete, and not the age.  We will use the multiplier 0.6 as that will give the lower end of the zone at 60% maximal. Maximal Heart Rate (MHR) is determined as 220BPM.

As you have determined your RHR, please plot it into the equation. I'll use a hypothetical 60BPM.

THR = 60 + (0.6 x [220 - 60]) , which gives THR 156 at 60% of maximal.

To repeat for the upper end of the zone, repeat calculation with a multiplier of 0.8 to find the upper end of the zone at 80% of maximal.

Please note, that you will need to repeat these calculations fairly frequently as your training progresses and your fitness levels improve.

The guidelines for improving cardiovascular fitness and cardiorespiratory endurance levels dictate that the athlete must train with HR elevated to at least 60% of MHR. For most athletes the zone would sit in the range of 60 - 80% of MHR for constant pace exercise. It is recommended that the exercise session would last between 20 and 60 minutes of THR exercise.

 For interval training the peaks can be as high as 90%, as there are the appropriate rest periods where HR is allowed to drop down to 30 - 45% of maximal. Also the interval sessions can be longer in duration due to the rest periods.


If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic on

01932 - 429584 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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