Exercise With A Purpose
Find Your Optimal Cardio Zones for What you Want to Accomplish.
It’s important to take some time off each day to take care of yourself, and one way the body would appreciate you for it is through exercise. As Elvie Lins from our community put it so eloquently — check out her article here. Whether it’s jogging, going for a run, HIIT workout, or pumping irons, these heart-throbbing activities get your blood circulating, sweat flowing, calories burning, and muscle stretching or tearing, all conducive to the betterment of the body as a whole.
Heart rate has long been established as a training metric for improving health and fitness, it is an accurate way to gauge how the body is working, especially during exercise.
There are different heart rate zones during cardio exercises that correspond to different outcomes that one would like to achieve. We all have different agendas when comes to exercise, whether that be weight loss, body tuning, muscle gaining, metabolic upkeeping, etc., we can align with our goals better by reaching and sustaining in a particular heart rate range.
This kind of gives a new meaning to the “work out in the zone” saying. So, let’s get to it.
First of all, we need to find your Maximum Heart Rate or MHR. It’s the maximum number of beats your heart can support in a minute before going under stress. It’s generalized with this formula:
220 — Your age = MHR in beats/minute. Say that you are 30, then your MHR is 190.
Zone 1: 50–60% of MHR
(Assume you are 30, 50% of MHR at 190 is 0.5 x 190 = 95 bpm)
This zone demands the least amount of effort from you, you can reach it during warm-up or cool down. It’s a range good for preparing the body for more rigorous activities, loosening up stiff muscles and joints.
Zone 2: 60–70% of MHR
(Assume you are 30, 60% of MHR at 190 is 0.6 x 190 = 114 bpm)
The lower range of this zone typically helps build activity endurance and the higher range puts the body in a Fat-Burning mode. In this zone, 85% of the calories burned are from fat. A sustained course of this heart rate helps with weight loss.
Zone 3: 70–80% of MHR
(Assume you are 30, 70% of MHR at 190 is 0.7 x 190 = 133 bpm)
This is the aerobic zone in which the body uses oxygen for fuel rather than other energy sources like carbohydrates, fat, or proteins. It is the best zone for improving blood circulation, increasing cardiorespiratory capacity, and gaining muscle strength as well.
Zone 4: 80–90% of MHR
(Assume you are 30, 80% of MHR at 190 is 0.8 x 190 = 152 bpm)
This zone puts our body into an anaerobic state, meaning the body burns glucose stored for fuel rather than oxygen. Short and intense bursts of this type of exercise help to build lean muscle mass, boosts metabolism, and increase speed and power!
Zone 5: 90%+ of MHR
(Assume you are 30, 90% of MHR at 190 is 0.9 x 190 = 171 bpm)
This is a very challenging zone to be in, and it is only sustainable for a very short period of time, often reserved for elite athletes who wish to increase fast-twitch muscles fibers to develop speed.
Our target heart rate zone is dependent on various factors such as age, activity type, fitness goals, etc., however, for establishing general fitness and health, a good place to aim is the 60–80% category.
Sweat Like A PIG
Of course, pigs don’t really sweat (check out pig iron instead). Sweating has many health benefits, not simply cooling the body down but also carrying some wastes out of the body. It’s a good sign that your blood is circulating and together with the muscles to generate heat for the body to release the flood. So, let the waterworks come, don’t defy the natural.
For motivational music to keep you going to reach your optimal heart rate, try to find songs with keywords such as “Exercise 160 bpm” or “House Music at 150 bpm” on Youtube. The musical beats should carry you through to the specified “beats per minute” heart rate. I hope you will find something suitable for you.
Hope this is helpful to you in some way. The heart rate information presented in this article is referenced from a Jan.7, 2022 LiveScience article.