Running Heart Rate Zones

Running Heart Rate Zones

Most runners and athletes use heart rate zones to train their bodies. You’ve often seen the charts at the gym. It’s probably one of the best ways to set up your training runs to either burn fat, build endurance, speed and strength. You must first calculate your maximum heart rate and from there you can calculate your percentages of your maximum heart rate so you can run in different zones. If you don’t have a watch that calculates that for you, it will be difficult to train in the different zones while you’re running. Heart rate monitors are great because you can adjust the settings to let it beep at you once you enter or leave certain heart rate zones.   Training involves picking a mixture of zones to run in or if you want to focus on a particular area to improve, you can pick one zone to run in.

There are 5 different heart rate zones:

Zones % of Max HR Description and Benefits
Zone 1 - 50% – 60% Your heart rate will be in this zone if you do a brisk walk or any light exercise that will build up a little sweat. This is the most comfortable zone to be in.Benefits of maintaining this zone is that it will strengthen you heart. My mom does more Zone 1 walking as per her doctors recommendation to help her lower cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Talk Test: You should be able to easily hold a conversation.

Breathing Test: Your breathing should be normal.

Muscle Burn: None

Zone 2 - 60% – 70% You can achieve this heart rate zone by doing a light jog.
Most people who run to lose weight will benefit by running in this zone.  Of course depends on your fitness level.  If you are a beginner you will lose weight faster but for intermediate -advanced runners, their bodies have a higher caloric burn rate and will have to run at a higher intensity to achieve the same results.Benefits of running in this zone besides weight loss is to improve your base training.

Talk Test: You should be able to talk comfortably.

Breathing Test: Your breathing should be slightly easy.

Muscle Burn:  None.

Zone 3 - 70% – 80% You can achieve this heart rate zone by doing a run at a pace faster than your jog.  This zone is known as the aerobic zone.  Benefits of this running in this zone is that it will build up your endurance and push your lactate threshold. Your body will learn how to burn fat and increase your caloric burn rate.  Most runners stay in this zone while doing long runs.

Benefits of running in this zone is that it will increase your lactate threshold.  You will have increase caloric burn rate.

Talk Test: You shouldn’t be able to talk comfortably.  You could probably say a few words, but nothing more.

Breathing Test: Your breathing should be slightly labored.

Muscle Burn: Slight leg muscle burns.

Zone 4 - 80% – 90% This is the most difficult zone to run continuously know as the anaerobic training.  Anaerobic training is when you don’t get enough oxygen into your body but your muscles must continue to work without.  This is your bodies way to tell you it’s reached it’s limit.

Benefits your lactate threshold increases your tolerance to lactic acid and improves your speed and endurance.

Talk Test: You shouldn’t be able to talk.

Breathing Test: Your breathing should very labored.

Muscle Burn: Leg muscle burns.

Zone 5 - 90% – 100% This is when you run all out.  You shouldn’t be able to sustain this speed for longer than a minute and reserved for mostly interval training or sprints.
Benefits of training in this zone is that it will increase your speed and lactate threshold.

Talk Test: Talking is the last thing you want to do.  All you think about is quitting, but DON’T.

Breathing Test: Breathing is extremely difficult.  You are breathless.

Muscle Burn:  Extreme leg muscle pain.

Related Running Tips:

  1. What is Lactate Threshold
  2. Speed training tips: Tempo Runs
  3. Spice Up Your Cross Training
  4. Speed training tips: Sprint Runs
  5. Stretching for runners
  6. Speed training tips: Hill repeats
  7. Strength Training For Runners



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