There is a lot written about fitness and training approaches. And while there probably isn’t one approach, or one system that works for everyone I have had great success with heart rate zone training and having done a great zone-four workout today I thought it would be good to remind ourselves that on the THPL journey with improving performance as one of the core attributes it is important to be purposeful in how we train and what we get when it is done right. The quick refresher is that there are essentially five heart rate zones – they play out quite simply as follows:
- Zone 1 – essentially the body at a normal heart rate – walking fast, warm-up, cool down, rate of perceived effort is a 2-3 on a scale of ten.
- Zone 2 – heart rate slightly elevated – rate of perceived effort is a 3-4 on a scale of ten. This is the endurance zone and it feels often like you are not working hard but it is where the core fat burning happens and it is the speed at which you can maintain for a long time
- Zone 3 – heart rate is higher and you can feel like you are working, more like perceived effort of 5-6, minimal metabolic change happens and it can be used for tempo training.
- Zone 4 – heart rate is high, you are breathing hard, you need to focus to stay in the zone - most people can last maximally an hour in this zone. Perceived effort is 7-9 and in this zone you are working on pacing and speed. Interval work gets you into Zone 4 all the time
- Zone 5 – max heart rate (or almost there) – perceived effort is 9-10. You stay in this zone for minutes at most, save this for the sprint to the finish or the last few pushups. There is minimal recovery when you push this far.
So, as we build out our training plan the goal is to exercise mostly in Zone- 2 (80% of the time) and in Zone 4 (20% of the time). We get maximal caloric, metabolic and performance gains from purposeful training in these two zones. Of course, exercise in any form is good for us, we just want to try to make the best use of our time on our THPL fitness journey and this is one way to do that.
Loving life, when running in zone two or zone four