What heart rate zone should I be training in?

Training Heart Rate Zone

Your maximun heart rate is calculated by your age. Your training heart rate is determined by your level of fitness and your age. Go to our calculator to easily find out your heart rate zones.

Also, our range of strapless heart rate monitors do this calculation for you on the go!

Beginners should start at a training heart rate zone of 50-70% of your maximum. Whereas for fitter individuals a training heart rate zone of 70-85% of your maximum may be more appropriate.

It is always a very good idea to consult your Trainer or Doctor before you start any new exercise program.

Guidelines for activities and goals

Health Zone

This zone is the start to becoming healthier. Probably the most important zone because it is in this zone that many health benefits are achieved, such as lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, a decrease in body fat and increase in muscle mass.

The amount of energy burned in this zone is approximately 5 calories/min and although not as great as in the other zones, 65 -80% of calories burned are from fat.

The Health Zone is a good place to start an exercise program even if you have higher goals. It is a zone where the level of exercise feels comfortable and enjoyable.

Muscles, joints and ligaments will become better conditioned to allow you to move up to higher exercise levels.

Fat Burn Zone

Appropriately referred to as the Fat Burn Zone, because 70-85% of calories burned, come from fat, at a rate of approximately 6-10 calories/ min. In this zone, fat is mobilized out of the cells and into the blood stream where it is drawn into the muscles and burned for energy.

When exercising in this zone your health rewards are doubled because you not only get rid of body fat but also gain muscle mass. And the more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest and your resting metabolic rate increases.

It is important to remember that exercising in this zone is only half of the plan to fat loss. Your diet should be low in fat because your muscles will burn dietary fat before stored body fat.

This zone is still reasonably comfortable to exercise in. While your activity may be more strenuous and challenging, you can still carry on a conversation while exercising in this zone.

Aerobic Zone

When exercising in the Aerobic Zone you get the most benefits in the least amount of time. It is often referred to as the ‘target’ zone and exercising in this zone gets you fitter, faster and thinner! It is also where performance training effects begin and where endorphins are released resulting in improved mood and reduction in anxiety, tension and stress.

Training in this zone is still comfortable, you are still able to have a conversation but you feel like you’ve had a workout without any burn or pain.

For those individuals wanting to improve their performance this is the zone where you will spend the bulk of your workout time.

Staying in your aerobic zone allows you to exercise for sufficient time, eg. 30, 60 or 90 mins, to increase your aerobic fitness.

As aerobic fitness increases so will your speed while staying in the aerobic zone. In other words you will be able to continue exercising at a greater percent of your maximal heart rate.

You get an added bonus as your body keeps burning more calories after you have stopped exercising as your metabolic rate is elevated.

Anaerobic Zone

This is the zone where you move from aerobic (with oxygen) metabolism to anaerobic (without oxygen) metabolism. This is where you will feel short of breath and exercise will become uncomfortable as lactic acid is produced. Such a level of effort can only be sustained for a few minutes.

There are some very real dangers of training in this zone too long and too frequently. The lactic acid produced in this zone damages the muscle cell wall and this can lead to:

  • increased risk of injury,
  • increased red blood cell destruction,
  • reduced co-ordination and
  • damage to aerobic capacity.

However, short bursts in this zone helps to increase speed and power. Because you can’t stay in this zone for long, interval training is used with exercise intervals and rest intervals.

This allows the athlete to build up lactate tolerance enabling them to be stronger and faster. If you exercise recreationally, you do not need to exercise at this stress level.


Recommendation for a training progression for a Healthy Person from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine):