Heart rate zones represent different percentages of your maximum heart rate. They can help guide the intensity and effectiveness of your workouts.

The benefits of exercise are widespread and include weight loss, mood regulation, and pain reduction.

Still, not all exercise is equally beneficial. Depending on your exercise goals and general health, a doctor may recommend different types of workouts.

Heart rate zones can offer a formula to help guide you in your workouts. They represent a range of heartbeats and provide information about how hard you’re pushing your body.

This article takes a closer look at heart rate zones and how you can apply them to a training program.

A heart rate zone is a range of heartbeats per minute. Different heart rate zones represent different levels of intensity. You can calculate heart rate zones as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

Heart rate zone% of maximum heart rate (as defined by the American College of Sports Medicine)
zone 1 (very light)less than 57%
zone 2 (light)57–63%
zone 3 (vigorous)64–76%
zone 4 (high)77–95%
zone 5 (maximal)96–100%

Learn more about heart rates here.

While exercising, it’s a good idea to spend time in a variety of heart rate zones depending on your goals. For example, here’s how you may use zones for certain types of exercises:

If you plan to engage in moderate-intensity physical activity, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that your target heart rate should be between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate.

For vigorous-intensity physical activity, the CDC recommends your target heart rate stay between 77% and 93% of your maximum heart rate.

Which heart rate zone burns the most fat?

Many factors including your age, diet, and fitness level determine the best intensity level to burn fat.

While it’s tempting to believe that you’ll burn more fat the harder you push yourself, when your heart rate gets higher, you’ll start to burn carbohydrates and protein, not fat.

Learn more about fat-burning heart rates here.

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If you plan to track and apply your heart rate zones to an exercise program, you’ll want to know how to calculate key heart rate data, such as your resting heart rate, recovery heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

Resting heart rate

Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest or not engaged in physical activity. It can be a useful indicator of your overall health.

If you’re interested in determining your resting heart rate, you can follow the directions found here.

Recovery heart rate

Your recovery heart rate is the difference between your peak heart rate while you’re exercising and your heart rate immediately after or shortly after you stop exercising.

Your recovery heart rate can offer information about your fitness level and cardiovascular health.

Maximum heart rate

Your maximum heart rate is the highest number of times your heart should beat in a minute while exercising.

One way that you can calculate your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220.

Heart rate monitors can help you stay in your desired zone throughout your workout. They gather data about your heart rate that may be visible on a monitor or sent to an app.

These include chest straps, watches, or rings that you can wear on your body.

Some heart rate monitors only track your heart rate while others offer more information about your workout like the distance covered, speed, and your breathing rate.

It’s important to keep in mind that the accuracy of a heart rate monitor may be limited by the type or intensity of the workout.

If you’re interested in purchasing a heart rate monitor, you can find some recommendations here.

Paying attention to your heart rate zones as you exercise is one way to maximize the benefits you get from your workouts.

Heart rate zones represent different percentages of your maximum heart rate and indicate the amount of effort your body is exerting.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these measurements can be useful, many automatic trackers won’t take into consideration things like genetic factors or medications that can affect heart rate.

Before beginning any new exercise plan, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor. They can offer personalized advice to ensure that you’re exercising in safe ways.