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Understanding Heart Rate Zones During Exercise

Only by understanding heart rate zones and how they are calculated can you make best use of your heart rate.

Many people know the importance of heart rate data for exercise. Heart rate zones are often divided into several zones, and different zones represent different exercise intensities/effects.

But when looking at the data of heart rate zones, I am often confused. I don’t know what these heart rate zones mean, or they are the same 5 heart rate zones (such as z1/z2/z3…z5 and E/M/T/A/I ), do they correspond one to one, and what do they mean? How do the Z1/Z2/Z3/Z4/Z5 heart rate zones of the heart rate watch correspond to the E/M/T/A/I zones? Do they mean the same thing?

First of all, based on heart rate training, heart rate zones are generally divided into five zones. If you know what heart rate zone you are exercising in, you will be able to get the corresponding exercise effect. There are three common calculation methods for heart rate zones:

  • Maximum heart rate percentage
  • Reserve heart rate percentage
  • lactate threshold percentage

Let’s briefly talk about the differences between these three types

Maximum heart rate percentage: only use the maximum heart rate to determine the heart rate zone during training, and do not need to know the resting heart rate and your current exercise capacity;

Reserve heart rate percentage: You need to know your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate to calculate your reserve heart rate (reserve heart rate = maximum heart rate – resting heart rate), and finally use the reserve heart rate to determine the heart rate zone;

Lactate threshold percentage: divide the heart rate zone by the heart rate at the lactate threshold. The lactate threshold refers to the critical state before lactic acid begins to accumulate when the lactic acid concentration in the blood increases faster than the body’s metabolism of lactic acid. The value at this time is your lactate threshold.

Among them, the maximum heart rate percentage is the most common of the three

The maximum heart rate percentage corresponds to the five heart rate zones Z1, Z2…Z5, which represent 5 different exercise intensities: warm-up zone (Z1), fat-burning zone (Z2), aerobic endurance zone (Z3), and marathon pace Zone (Z4), anaerobic endurance zone (Z5).

The motion states corresponding to these intervals can be seen from the names. For example, when warming up before starting formal exercise, the heart rate is generally in the warm-up zone (Z1); usually when we call jogging, the heart rate zone is in the aerobic endurance zone (Z3).

As mentioned earlier, the heart rate zone of the maximum heart rate percentage is calculated based on the person’s maximum heart rate.

There are many ways to calculate the maximum heart rate. The simple one is “220-age”, and there are also more complex formulas, including the method of actually measuring it by running and running as introduced before. Enter the obtained/calculated maximum heart rate into the Garmin device, and then These five intervals were obtained.

Let’s talk about the reserve heart rate percentage

The intervals corresponding to the heart rate reserve percentage are sometimes represented/named with the letters E/M/T/A/I. The heart rate zone calculation of the heart rate reserve percentage is based on the heart rate reserve data and based on the concept of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). Compared with the maximum heart rate percentage above, the reserve heart rate percentage is more targeted at training for endurance sports such as running.

The letters E/M/T/A/I stand for:

  • E (Easy running) easy running
  • M (Marathon-pace running) marathon pace running
  • T (Threshold running) Lactic acid threshold running
  • A (Anaerbic running) anaerobic endurance running
  • I (Interbval training) interval training

In addition to E/M/T/A/I, some heart rate training guides will also have D and R: D stands for warm-up before exercise, and the heart rate in the D zone will be much lower than E; while R, in layman’s terms, It’s just that the heart is in an explosive state of “exploding a small universe”^^

Once you know your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate, you can also get the range of the E/M/T/A/I heart rate zone. When using Garmin products, you can find “Set Heart Rate Zone” in Garmin Connect, select based on reserve heart rate percentage, enter the corresponding data and percentage, and you can get the heart rate range of the E/M/T/A/I zone.

There is also a lactate threshold percentage

For professional runners, lactate threshold is reached at approximately 90% of their maximum heart rate. For most people, the lactate threshold appears earlier, often before the maximum heart rate reaches 90%.

Knowing your lactate threshold can help you understand how hard you can train, or whether you’re still strong enough to push harder.

To calculate the heart rate zone for lactate threshold percentage, you need to know two data: lactate threshold and maximum heart rate (currently Garmin running watches can calculate these two data).