When it comes to training for a career, the idea is always that everything we do serves to maximize our results by making more productive use of our capabilities. For this we can make use of external aids, such as those of a sports psychologist, or that of a physiotherapist that helps you oppose your body to maximum performance.
However, something we can do for ourselves is added to this external help and it is to know our body and its abilities well. To do this, we can learn to know our pulsation zones and thus also know our training zones based on these pulsations. This way we will know when we are doing our best. Thanks to this, we will make our workouts more effective in improving our performance by helping us not to fall short, but also not to overdo the effort.
How training zones are calculated
The first thing to keep in mind is that the fact that two people are the same age may mean they have the same heart rate, but not necessarily the same training zone. This is because this area depends on other factors, such as the usual activity level.
Therefore, so that each of us can calculate more adequately, a formula known as Karvonen Formula. This formula is based, among other things, on the knowledge of our maximum heart rate (FCMax) and our heart rate when we are at rest (FCrep).
Karvonen Formula: % FC objective = (FCM-FCrep) x% intensity + FCrep
To get the calculation of this formula the first thing we need know is what is our maximum heart rate. In general, the ideal thing for this would be for us to take a stress test, but if we can’t or don’t want to do it, there are some formulas that help us calculate them.
The one that seems to be most useful is a formula known as the Tanaka Formula that is calculated using our age as follows:
FCM = 208 – (0.7 x our age)
For example, I am 31 years old so my calculation would be as follows: FCM = 208- (0.7×31). This means that my maximum heart rate is 186.3.
After knowing this, to calculate the training zones we would have to know our resting heart rate. For this the simplest way is measure our pulsations when we are in a moment of rest and relaxation Absolute, for example, just awake. Ideally, we repeat that measurement for about a week and make an average so that the result is more reliable.
Now we have all the data we need to perform the calculation with the Karvonen formula, but before that we must know what are the training zones and what each one implies, so that when applying the formula we know which of the zones we want to calculate and what we need in each of them.
- Zone 1: It corresponds to 50-60% of the heart rate and assumes a low and soft intensity. Here are exercises like walking and it is a warm-up or recovery zone.
- Zone 2: It corresponds to 60-70% of FC and is a soft middle zone. Walking quickly, jogging or swimming gently would enter this area.
- Zone 3: between 70% and 80% of HR and corresponds to the aerobic or high intensity zone.
- Zone 4: corresponds to 80-90% of HR and is known as submaximal zone, entering the anaerobic threshold. This area usually occurs before very intense activities such as running or spinning. In this area we will be able to increase our capacity and aerobic endurance and improve performance.
- Zone 5: 90-100% of FC. This is the highest zone we can bear. This area can only be maintained for short periods of time. By training in this area we increase anaerobic resistance and tone the neuromuscular system.
Depending on what we want to achieve we will need train in one area or another. That is, training for a marathon is not the same as for a sprint, so in each case we will need to train more in one area than in another.
Once we know how to calculate our heart rates and we know what percentage corresponds to each zone and we only have to do the calculation using the formula. So, for example, if we want to know what our heart rate will be in aerobic zone 3, the formula would look like this: FC 70% = (FCM-FCrep) x 0.7 + FCrep. Let’s say I use my FCMax and FCrep data to calculate what my percentage would be in aerobic zone 3:
HR 70% = (186.3-65) x0.7 + 65 = 149.91
Therefore, upon reaching 150 beats, I would already be entering my aerobic zone. So I can do the calculation for all zones, so that when choosing to train in one area or another – based on my goal – know what pulsations I have to be.
This article was originally published by Iria Reguera in October 2018 and has been revised for republication.
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