are you training in your target heart rate zone?

You’re hitting the gym and feeling good with your workouts. You can work up a sweat, but still are struggling to meet your goals.

Are you working in your target heart rate zone? Do you know your target heart rate zone?

Knowing and working within your zone will help you work out effectively. It will help you with weight loss and it will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness.

What is a target heart rate zone?

The target heart rate zone is a range (low to high) of how hard your heart should be working to gain optimal benefits while exercising.

How do you calculate your zone?

First, know your pulse and how to take your pulse.  You can do this using your fingers, or investing in a good quality heart rate monitor.

I'd recommend buying a heart rate monitor watch & chest band combo. They sell for around $60-$80 and are worth it.

Taking your pulse:

  • Place two fingers on the underside of your wrist. Press until you can feel your heart beat.  Count the number of beats in a 10 second period. Multiply this by 6.  That is your pulse.

Know your resting heart rate (RHR). This is your pulse when you are most relaxed. The best time of day to take this is in the morning, when you first wake up while still laying in bed.

A few simple calculations will help you find your target heart rate:

  1. Know your resting heart rate (RHR)
  2. Now complete this calculation:
    • 220 – (Your Age) = ____ (maximum heart rate – MHR)
    • MHR – RHR = ___Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)
    • Multiply HRR by 0.65 + RHR =  ___ This is the low end of your target heart rate zone.
    • Multiply HRR by 0.85 + RHR =  ___ This is the high end of your target heart rate zone.
  3. Now you know your range.  Your warm up exercise needs to get your heart rate inside that zone before you move into your full workout.

Example using my numbers:

  • 220-33= 187 MHR
  • My RHR is 55
  • 187-55=132 HRR
  • 132 * 0.65 + 55 = 141
  • 132 * 0.85 + 55 = 167

My target heart rate zone is 141-167. My heart rate needs to be in that range while working out.

Your workout – be it cardio or weights – should stay within this range to improve heart health and help your body body improve its efficiencies in using oxygen and burning fat. Just because someone has a chiseled physique, it does not necessarily mean their heart is healthy.  Keeping in your zone will reduce risks for injury and work your heart and muscles effectively.


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