|Zone Name||Heart Rates||Purpose|
|Recovery||50-60% Max||Active Rest|
|Active Aerobic||60-75% Max||Aerobic Development|
|Endurance||75-80% Max||Aerobic Capacity|
|Threshold||80-85% Max||Lactate Tolerance|
|Strength||85-100% Max||VO2 Development, Sprinting|
Use your calculator to determine your specific heart rate zones. For example, our 40 year old male with an estimated max of 186 would take 186 x 0.6 to get 112 bpm (beats per minute). That would be his upper limit on days when he needs active rest, or a recovery day. Pretty low number, huh? It is as important to go easy as it is to go hard. Without active rest, which may even be going for a walk, your body may become tired, sore, injured, sick, slow, and unmotivated, from higher exertion training all the time.
His active aerobic zone would be 60%-75%, or 112-140 (186 x 0.75 = 140). His top aerobic zone would be 140 - 149. Most of this cyclist's riding should be done in these two zones, with early season riding staying in active aerobic, then moving into the endurance zones after about 1 month of active aerobic training. This is the cake. The frosting is in zones 4 and 5 that will go on in smaller amounts once the cake has been baked. Yummy!
The most common mistake I see recreational and competitive cyclists make is riding with their heart rate too high, too early, and for too long. I compare this to putting the roof on a house before building the foundation and the walls- the roof will do no good. It is just sitting in the ground. Only your aerobic training can raise the roof to new heights of physical ability!
One thing to note is that max heart rate is not a predictor of how good of an thlete someone is. Max heart rate has an age and genetic fator that is unique in all people. It is not thought of as something that in trainable. However, your lactic threshold and VO2 max are trainable, and that's what elite athletes pay attention to. They can go up with training, so with regular testing, these athletes can fine tune their heart rate zones to adjust with their fitness throughout the year. If you are interested, I recommend reading the training and testing methods by Friel and Carmichael.
The great thing about training/riding while paying some attention to your heart rate is that you can produce a variety of benefits by training in a variety of zones. If you don't know your zones, scroll up the page (get your calculator ready!) and crunch some numbers. Here are some interesting facts regarding preferred fuel sources in various zones:
So, if your goals include, or are centered more around weight loss/fat burning, you don't have to hit the red-line too much! This way you will be using the fuel stored on your body as fat if you stay in zones 1 and 2. However, a calorie is a calorie, and you will burn more of them by incuding intervals in the higher zones. You don't have to be loading yourself up on high carbohydrate foods, especially sugary sports drinks and energy bars, before, during, and after rides in zones 1 and 2. This carbohydrate comes from muscle and liver stores of susgar (glycogen). On the other hand, if you're going out to do a long (60 min+) workout or something hard like hill intervals, make sure you have sports drink and energy gel in your system and along for the ride. Consider your fuel source as having the right tools for the job at hand. I've shared some of my knowledge of fuelling up as an athlete in the Nutrition section of the website.
*source: Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan 2002 (I LOVE this book!)