Target Heart Rate Zones

Target Heart Rate Zones

It is good to understand heart rate zones during exercise bouts to ensure that you are getting the highest quality of training during your workout. You don’t want to be training at too high of a heart rate zone, because it will cause you to have to slow down or stop the exercise early. You also don’t want to train at too low of a heart rate zone, because you will not receive full benefits out of the time you put in.

First, we should take our resting heart rate. A normal resting heart rate is between 60-90 beats per minute (bpm), and 40-60 bpm for a well trained athlete. You will want to check your resting heart rate after being seated and relaxed for about 5 minutes or more.

Next, we want to find our max heart rate. This is the maximum number of times the heart can beat per minute. A simple way to find your age predicted max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.

For example: A 23 year old’s age predicted max heart rate would be 197 beats per minute.

220 – 23 = 197 bpm

Finding Your Target Heart Rate Zones

To find target heart rate zones take the indicated percentage of your age predicted max and multiply it by the level of intensity you would like to conduct.

Follow the chart below to calculate the heart rate range you should aim for during a session corresponding with the type of cardio or training you want to accomplish.

Low Intensity = 50-70% This is the range you want to be in during a warm up or cool down session, or during long cardio sessions. You’re body will utilize fat as a primary fuel source during long sessions.

For example, the 23 year old’s age predicted low intensity heart rate range would be:

197 bpm x 50% = 99 bpm

197 bpm x 70% = 138 bpm

This person would want to stay between 99 bpm – 138 bpm during a low intensity level session.

Moderate Intensity = 70-80% this zone is where you want to be to build endurance. You’re body will utilize carbohydrates and fat as a fuel source in this intensity level.


197 bpm x 70% = 138 bpm

197 bpm x 80% = 158 bpm

This person would want to stay between 138 bpm – 158 bpm during a moderate intensity session.

High Intensity = 80-90% this is your anaerobic limit, and our bodies are not able to maintain this level of intensity for a very long time. Training at this level helps your VO2 max (your body’s ability to utilize oxygen). This level relies on the fast glycolytic system and utilizes carbohydrates.


197 bpm x 80% = 158 bpm

197 bpm x 90% = 177 bpm

This person would want to stay between 158 bpm – 177 bpm in during a high intensity session.

Max Effort = 90-100% This training range is the absolute maximum capacity that your body can work. It is usually utilized for athletic training and advanced exercisers. It can only be maintained for a very short time, such as an all out max sprint.


197 bpm x 90% = 177 bpm

197 bpm x 100% = 197 bpm

* Note: It takes about 2-3 minutes for your heart rate to adjust to a new intensity level; so don’t check your heart rate until then to determine if you are within the right target heart rate zone.

**Safety Note: A few high blood pressure medications lower the maximum heart rate and thus the target zone rate. If you’re taking such medicine, call your physician to find out if you need to use a lower target heart rate.


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