Heart Rate Zones will pretty much tell you where you are in terms of ‘how hard you’re working’. Without knowing anything about how many beats per minute your heart is going, as well as your resting heart rate, it’s difficult to tell how hard you’re actually running, biking, etc. As you’ll see, you need to work in certain zones for the best results……you don’t always have to be going as fast as you can or slowly running long distances!!
Sometimes you can train using ‘how you feel’, but that can be tricky sometimes, so it’s a good idea to train by Zones. Here’s how you determine yours:
First, be able to find your pulse by feel (ideally, buy a heart rate monitor, they’re not that expensive). You can feel your pulse on either side of your throat with your finger, or on your wrist. I have the easiest time feeling my pulse next to my throat. Count the pulses for ten seconds, then multiply by 6 to get the number for a whole minute.
If ‘Person’ does that when resting or waking up in the morning, that’s Person’s Resting Heart Rate (let’s say it’s 60 beats per minute). Then, we’ll need a way to find the Maximum Heart Rate. Either he can go out and [run a mile as fast as he can, I don’t recommend that now] or use a nice conservative formula which is to subtract your age from 220. ( let’s say it’s 220 – 60yrs old = 160, a nice convenient number).
So, this person’s Heart Rate Range, determined from the previous paragraph is 160 (max) – 60(resting) = 100 beats per minute. (Sometimes zones are determined solely by a percentage of the maximum heart rate but this example gives you a very conservative starting point.) Zones are usually a percentage of that range we just calculated. using resting heart rate and his theoretical maximum heart rate:
Zone 1 60-70% or 120-130 beats per minute (bpm).
Zone 2 71-75% or 131-135 bpm.
Zone 3 76-80% or 136-140 bpm.
Zone 4 81-90% or 141-150 bpm.
These can also differ from person to person, and are usually just a starting point. Your coach will be more able to judge how to juggle these numbers for your particular situation, or fitness level, strengths, or weaknesses. A training program consists of mixing these HR zones through the week, usually according to a schedule, to achieve optimum results.