Cardiac zones: what they are, what they are for and how they are calculated

Cardiac zones: what they are, what they are for and how they are calculated

Cardiac zones: what they are,what they are for
Cardiac zones
The  heart rate monitors can help you monitor your heart rate throughout the day and during sport. Detecting heart rate in training is essential to know at what intensity we are training  in order to determine if the work we are doing is in line with the goals we have set for ourselves.
Lose weight? Improve endurance? Increase speed and personal records? Depending on the result we want to achieve, we will inevitably need heart zones . During sporting activities, the intensity of a workout is closely linked to the cardio zones : the faster your heart rate is, the more intense your training will be and the metabolic processes that the body will carry out will be different.
Knowing your heart rate zones and therefore the first step in structuring a training plan aimed at achieving a specific goal.

Table of heart rate zones

There are five cardio zones and they correspond to a percentage of your maximum heart rate . Below is the table that describes its features.

% of maximum heart rate
Perceived effort
Benefits for training
50 – 60%
Relaxed step, without effort. Smooth breathing
Aerobic training at beginners level. It improves the heart’s ability to pump blood and the ability of muscles to use oxygen. Reduces stress.
60 – 70%
Not a strenuous step. Breath slightly deeper but conversation possible.
Basic cardiovascular training. It increases the speed at which cells release fat to the muscle. Good recovery step.
70 – 80%
Moderate pace. More difficult to maintain a conversation.
Improved aerobic capacity: increases lung capacity and respiratory rate. Excellent cardiovascular training: strengthens the heart for long-lasting workouts.
80 – 90%
Quick and rather tiring step. Shortness of breath.
Improved anaerobic capacity and threshold: increases running speed and improves performance. Limited training time in this area.
90 – 100%
Maximum pace, not sustainable for a long time. Shortness of breath.
Anaerobic and muscular resistance. Increased power. Used mostly in interval training with short speed changes. Very short training time in this area.
Depending on the cardiac zone in which we train, we are doing an aerobic training (zones 1, 2 and 3) or anaerobic (zones 4 and 5). Working in an aerobic regime are mainly consumed fats (lipids) for the production of energy and promotes the development of resistance to efforts, as well as a good basis for those who want to run to lose weight . On the other hand, working in an anaerobic regime mainly consumes sugars (carbohydrates) to provide the energy needed to compensate for the higher effort than aerobic.
Run aor walk to lose weight

How to establish your cardio zones: calculation of your maximum heart rate

The two basic parameters for the calculation of cardiac zones are the real maximum heart rate (HRmax) and the resting heart rate (FCmin). We have seen how to measure the resting heart rate while the most common method to obtain the maximum heart rate is to perform this simple calculation :
For men: HR max = 220 – Age
For women: HR max = 226 – Age
For example, if I am a man and I am 33, my maximum heart rate will be: 220 – 33 = 187 .
This system is called the Karvonen method and, being a standard, is not 100% accurate. For a more punctual and personal value, alternatively, you can equip yourself with a heart rate monitor , a chest belt and reach the maximum real heart rate in very intense short training sessions or during a 5 or 10 kilometer race in the final phase during the sprint.

Cardiac zones and relationship with breathing

As we have seen, there are 5 cadia areas and we can compare them with the breathing method we have been using for many years with our athletes. Each heart rate zone corresponds to a level of breathing difficulty. There are four levels.

4 levels of breathing in the race

CRMF  – Very Easy Breathing Race
CRF  – Easy Breathing Race
CRLI  – Slightly Engaged Breathing Race
CRI  – Busy Breathing Race
The correspondence with the heart rate zones is immediate.
The first zone corresponds to the CRMF which is a training intensity between 50 and 60% of the maximum heart rate and we can use it for the first phases of muscle activation and heating.
The second , between 60 and 70%, is equivalent to the CRF and is the area in which we run the slow bottom; in these first two cases it is possible to speak during training.
The third zone, between 70 and 80% of HRmax, corresponds to the CRLI, an interval in which we train the race at medium pace, a medium that develops lipid power and corresponds to a rhythm that we can keep up to the distance of the marathon.
The CRI corresponds to zones four and five , which range from 80 to 100% of the HRmax. At these intensities it is possible to run races from 5 kilometers up to the half marathon and do short, medium and long repeated training sessions in which breathing does not allow speaking except in small syllables.

Advice for breathing

The advice is to train alternating low intensity sessions with high intensity sessions and to give our body a couple of days off a week. Only by using common sense and relying on qualified personnel is it possible to achieve the goals set in total safety, respecting the rhythms of our body and minimizing the risk of accidents. In short, you have to run to feel good!

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