comprendre les zones cardiaques

The 5 heart rate zones


You know your maximum heart rate, which you have measured in a field test, and you can calculate heart rate percentages for your sessions (e.g.: running for 45 minutes at between 70% and 75% HR) thanks to the Karvonen method. You now want to go further and understand what these heart rate percentages actually mean.

 

WARM UP/RECOVERY : 50 TO 60% HR

This means very moderate effort, which is ideal at the start of a session for warming up gently and at the end of the session for active recovery eliminating the waste products created by your muscles during exercise.

 

BASIC ENDURANCE: 60 TO 70% HR

After 20 to 40 minutes exercise in this zone, your muscles will start to break down your fat. This moderate effort allows you to sharpen but also improve your endurance on long sessions (over 1 hour 30 mins). In this zone you can run for an (almost) unlimited amount of time!

 

ACTIVE ENDURANCE: 70 TO 80% HR

The effort is sustained but your body can deliver sufficient oxygen to maintain this effort for a long time. Your muscles get used to more efficient consumption of the sugars present in muscle fibres. Thanks to this type of training you can maintain your fast pace (e.g.: 10 km competition pace) for a longer period. But this effort should not be maintainer for longer than 45 minutes at a time.

 

RESISTANCE : 80 TO 90% HR

In this zone your body can no longer supply sufficient oxygen to meet the demand from your muscles: this is the anaerobic threshold. Training that includes short, repeated effort in this zone allows you to improve your performance over a give distance (e.g.: your time for 10km). You will also learn to recover better after intense exercise. Each repetition in resistance training should not last loner than 5 minutes and total repetitions should not come to more than 45 minutes in total.

 

HARD RESISTANCE: > 90% HR

This zone means very intense effort. You should only work out in this zone in short, divided bursts repetitions of 15 seconds for 2 minutes). The benefits are close to those in the orange zone. But it also allows you to work on shorter exercise periods which are easier to manage for beginners.

 

%MHR or % HR?

Most training programmes still express intensities as a percentage of maximum heart rate (%MHR). But this calculation method is note reliable enough because maximum heart rate only falls with age unlike resting heart rate which falls with training. Indeed, both of these dimensions need to be taken into account and this is precisely the advantage of the Karvonen calculation method:

% HR = %(maxHR - RestingHR) + RestingHR

 

 

For effective training it is important to understand what you're doing. You now hold the keys to grasping what the heart rate percentages indicated on your training programme actually mean.

 

TOP OF PAGE