FIND YOUR HEART RATE TRAINING ZONE

Curious about how to train your heart correctly?

The Karvonen formula is a gold standard in the fitness industry to help clients determine proper heart rate for cardiovascular exercise.  It’s simple to do, but does require a heart rate monitor. Before you take on any intense cardiovascular program please consult with your provider as health history, fitness level and medications may effect your heart rate, and you may need to make adjustments to your training zone numbers.

Going for a run? Knowing  how to monitor your heart rate can help you train more efficiently.

Going for a run? Knowing  how to monitor your heart rate can help you train more efficiently.

I have also included the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to help you determine what level you might be working at regardless of a heart rate monitor. The RPE scale is based on your perception of how hard you are working within a rating system of 1 (easy) to 20 (not able to speak).

Most importantly, ALWAYS listen to your body.

No formula can replace the wisdom of your own body. Your body will tell you what to do - whether you need to crank it up a notch, or turn the volume way down.

1. Take your resting pulse 3 mornings in a row. Normal is 60 - 100bpm but athletic individuals may be in the low 40s
2. Determine your Max Heart Rate (220 - Age)
3. Plug into the gold standard Karvonen formula: 

KARVONEN FORMULA:

Target Heart Rate = [(max HR − resting HR) × %Intensity] + resting HR
Zone 1 (increase aerobic efficiency and recovery) - 65 - 75% of HR Max | RPE = 12 - 13
Zone 2 (increase anaerobic and aerobic efficiency) - 76 - 85% of HR Max | RPE = 14 - 16
Zone 3 (trains the body for high end work) - 86 - 95% of HR Max | RPE 17 - 19

Example: 25yr old fit male, no health risks.
Resting HR = 50
Max HR  = 220 - 25 = 195

Karvonen Formula for working in Zone 2 at 76% = [(195 − 50) × .76] + 50 = 160
Karvonen Formula for working in Zone 2 at 85% = [(195 − 50) × .85] + 50 = 173

Target Heart Rate for Zone 2 = 160 - 173bpm

HOW& WHEN TO PROGRESS ZONES*

1.     You should be able to maintain a half hour in Zone 1 comfortably before progressing to Zone two.
2.     A well planned cardiovascular training program will eventually rotate through all three stages as the heart is ready for higher end work.  It could result in overtraining to only train in one stage.

To test for preparedness for Zone 2

  1. Warm up 5 – 10 min
  2. Spend 1 min in your Zone 2 max at 85%
  3. Lower your intensity and see if you can drop down to your Zone 1 range (65 – 75%) within 1 minute. Repeat. 

This is testing your heart rate recovery. If…

  1. You couldn’t reach Zone 2 85% in 1 minute then use your high number as your new 85%, take 9% off your low end to readjust your 76%.
  2. If your heart rate goes above your 85% but you can still recover to Zone 1 within one minute, add a few beats to your 85% and readjust your zone. You are prepared for Zone 2 work.
  3. If you were able to complete the task and get to 85% in one minute and drop back down to 65 – 75% in one minute you are prepared for Zone 2 work.
  4. Gradually bring the heart rate down to Zone 1 or less and cool down.

To test for preparedness for Zone 3

  1. Warm up 10 minutes
  2. Increase workload every 60 secs for 2mins till in Zone 3 range (86 – 95%).
  3. Stay in Zone 3 for 1 minute
  4. Try to drop to Zone 2 mid range (about 80%) within 1 minute. 

This is testing your heart rate recovery. If…

  1. Your heart rate doesn’t drop to the middle of Zone 2 within one minute stay in Zone 2 and 1 for training (overtraining can happen if you keep pushing high end work)
  2. If you able to complete the task, you can repeat the exercise with Zone 3 work
  3. Gradually bring the heart rate down to Zone 1 or less and cool down.

 
These are the guidelines as set forth by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), 2014