HR Training Zones / Base Training.

I know there are loads of threads about this floating round but im a bit confused and want to confirm what fits best with my training regime re Marthon / Ironman Endurance.

What is the formula for calculating HR zones? Is it?

220 – age (34) = 186?

Ive got that bit ok I think but then get confused how to work out my training zones and what they are? Does the training zone % e.g. 65-75% MHR got from the 220 or 186 figure?

Should my zones be:

Recovery 60% MHR or less
Easy 60 – 70% MHR
Steady 70 – 80% MHR
Tempo / Hard 80 – 90% MHR

Could someone post an example at what heartrate zones I should be training, im particularly interested in the endurance building zone i.e. ‘easy’.

Many thanks


  • You first need to find out what your Max HR and your ave resting HR? 220 minus your age is not accurate enough!!

    Example, 32 resting 179 max 179-32 =147 is then divided by the percentage you want to train at, then add your resting HR. This then gives you the training Zone.
  • Thats what I was doing wrong, forgetting to re-add my resting HR.

    Im not sure of my max and am wary to tri it out on a treadmill due to niggling leg injuries, is a bike good enough to get max HR?

    I know my resting is 43.

  • Warm up for a while on your bike, at least 30 mins then find a hill that is'nt to steep and just go hard and you will find your Max!

    May be worth trying that on a couple of occassions to make sure you get a similar reading?!
  • that'll be great fun for ya! a few max heart rate tests :) good look finding it, but your max heart rate on the bike will probably be different for your max running and max swimming etc.....

    Either will be a good enough indication for you though to work out your zones

  • Im still confused with the whole HRM thing? Can anyone explain how exactly you get your training zones, how much they should differ and how to use the training zones effectively?????
  • Each training zone is the percentage of effort that you put in i.e 50-60% would be considered level 1, this is low effort and is using oxygen as your fuel.

    Each zone is using differant fuels within your body, if you were training at 70-80% of your max HR then you would be using carbohydrate as the main fuel so considering you body only stores 45mins worth then you would'nt train at this level for more than that.
  • i thought it stored about 15 or 18 miles worth

    you must be ******* fast jeffrey
  • I typically do TT's at just over 90% of MHR - and that would be for an hour for a 25.

    Maybe slightly less than 90% for a 50 though, but not much.

    (but looking at the info on the Polar site - they agree with JLK.)

    50-60% Recovery sessions

    60-70% Fat burning

    70 -80% Steady state training

    80 - 90% This intensity can be held for about one hour in competition (?)

    >90% Short distance races - sprints etc
  • i thought the limit was due to lactate threshold/lactic acid build up rather than glycogen depletion
  • That's 80>90% according to Polar.

    I can see his point though. Unless you were taking on fuel, you'd get the knock, but it takes me more than 45 mins.
    Recent Half Marathon - 90 mins and Average HR was about 85% of max. No refuelling enroute.
  • When each of the stores in your body run out it looks to the next store to help it out i.e carb's - fat - muscle - death!!

    Not death!!
  • agreed - takes me longer than 90 mins to bonk at 85%

    takes me 3 hours+ at 70%
  • It's not v precise all this HR stuff.

    I have a 19 beat range in all the zones, so 170bpm is a lot different from 151.

    Still, HRM's are useful.

    And Andy said bonk. (childish snigger)
  • that's not strictly true or you'd run forever on fat before you burned any muscle, which unfortunately isn't the case

    more they run alongside each other, but in varying proportions depending on how long you've gone and how hard

    eg fat burning and glycolysis both increase with time, but glycolysis also increases with intensity (fat burning not so much with intensity as you have a limit)
  • Your HR will be telling you that you are working at a percentage, but what is going on inside is the fat is being used as carb's but breaking down at a slower rate so you wont notice to much of a differance until its to late!!
  • yeah, its pretty inexact

    i do 'obviously aerobic runs' - say marathon pace plus 45 seconds, for 20 miles+, to train fat burning (and 'leg toughness' if you like)

    intervals/hills as fast as i can maintain, three minutes intervals, for LT

    pace runs for, er, pacing

    that's it - good aerobic base + high LT = maintainable pace

    none of this fancy zone stuff

    same on the bike
  • takes me three seconds to bonk generally, cougie
  • But are you using a pulse monitor to see how high you HR goes?

    If its higher than the percentage than you believe you are training at then you are using a differant system?
  • I can Bonk twice in 3 seconds!!

    And yes i may be fast!!!!!!!!!!!
  • bit of heart rate drift

    ie last night i ran 20.3 flat miles at 8:30 pace (pacing using timex GPS; 2 9.6 mile loops plus start and end bits)

    HR drifted from around 146 at the start, to 138 - 144 for miles 2-14, then it increased at about 2 beats per mile fairly linearly to finish on 157

    food was a boots carbo bar over the first 5 miles, and three powergels, so say 600 Kcals
  • Tee hee. I did have my HRM on the other day. But forgot to look.
  • and to drink, a litre and a bit of flat pepsi max (double nathan belt)..... mmmmm caffeine
  • i dont usually bother with the GPS, but run at constant heart rate

    ....last night was a bit of a 'how is my 3:30 flm looking?' trial

    ....not too bad to say i haven't done any speed work
  • think i need to eat more though, i'll go get a pie or something
  • Blimey. 20 miles in a night ?

    Eek !
  • 55-65%MRH is best for losing weight. Above this value and it is easier for the body to utlise the energy from the carbohydrate zone. This point is also usually associated with noticable change of breathing. As for max heart rate (MRH) you never achieve this (to the max, as the next stage is probable death), however if you do this on a bike after 20 min warm up, whatever your max heart rate achieved, add on 10 beats for your assumed mrh. If you do this running, add on 5 beats. The difference between the two is because you can't use as many muscles on a bike. Your max heart rate is pre-coded in your body, it will not change, however your ability to get near to it will. So, once you have determined whatr you mrh is, see if it changes with time, and fine tune your zones( as indicated in previous replies). Doing it this way with measured MRH means you will be less likely to damage yourself. Hope this helps
  • Andy, that just seems a normal rise of HR due to tiredness and possibly heat?!

    I go out and do a 15m run with no food at all and get a similar reading and i feel this happens when i start to get fairly hot and a tad tired
  • heat? it was f****** freezing on monday night (this run finished just before midnight!)

    i think it was classic bonking (or 'the wall' for our running friends) - aren't the tiredness and overheating symptoms rather than the cause?

    i was mighty hungry, too, and cooked some fish when i got in, much to the annoyance of 'er indoors when the smoke alarm woke 'er up
  • 12 o'clock, are you mad?

    You may feel cold though your working muscles are'nt!

    Its sounds to me like you need to teach your body to burn fat! You ate all that and you still got the 'knock'?!

    Drink some coffee or tea and then go out for a run (not quite that far to begin with)without food, maybe use a gel very late in the run. This may then teach your body not to rely on food to much?!!!
  • The tea or coffee breaks down fat cells in case you did'nt know?!!
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