To determine your target heart rate while exercising, you first need to identify your maximum heart rate.
The maximum heart rate (max HR) is the maximum rate at which a human heart should ideally beat. This figure depends on your age and can be estimated using the following formula: MaxHR = 220
If you wish to identify your maximum heart rate more accurately, you're advised to undergo a maximum heart rate test, administered by a doctor.
Once you've identified your MaxHR, you can decide on a target heart-rate zone, for your workout, depending on your goal.
- 50 to 60% of your MaxHR.
The blue zone corresponds to a moderate effort. Ideal for a gentle warm up at the beginning of your session and for an active end of session cool down to help remove waste produced by your muscles during exercise.
- 60 to 70% of your MaxHR.
Basic stamina is essential for all sportsmen and women. It is particularly good for the health as well as improving your performance during long exercise sessions. Exercise in this zone for over 45 minutes in order to gently exercise your heart, improve the blood supply to your muscles and train your muscles to draw on your fat reserves.
70 to 80% of your max HR
In this zone you are training just below your anaerobic threshold: the effort is intense but your body is still able to provide enough oxygen to maintain this effort over time. Active endurance training will encourage your muscles to draw on sugar supplies, present in your muscle fibres, more effectively when exercising and store this sugar more effectively when at rest. This type of training must be done less frequently than basic endurance.
- 80 to 90% of your max HR.
Your body is unable to supply the muscles with sufficient oxygen to meet their needs: this is the anaerobic or resistance threshold. This zone helps to improve your performance and your endurance if you exercise in short repeated bursts (intervals). Your muscles will work more effectively and your heart beat more regularly as you approach the threshold.
- 90% of your MaxHR.
This zone represents intense exercise. This type of exercise must only be done for very short intervals. It helps to increase your anaerobic threshold and therefore improve your performance and your endurance. The red zone is reserved for sportsmen and women with good self-knowledge, who are really seeking to improve their performance levels.