How do I determine my training zones?

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A heart rate monitor can be very beneficial to your cardiovascular training if used correctly. The challenge is finding a good way to determine the best heart rate zones for yourself. Most formulas use age as the main factor to determine the zones. The problem is that genetics and fitness level are more important that age. I would suggest using the most basic formula of 220-your age to create your training zones. If you use 65% and 80% of 220-your age as a baseline, you can then make adjustments in these zones over time based on how you feel during and after the workout. No formula will provide everyone with the perfect zones, however making your own personal adjustments as you progress will help you get the most out of your training. Monitoring your heart rate during the workout and during recovery will help you make these adjustments and will provide the feedback needed to help you progress in your workouts. To improve your fitness level you need feedback on how hard you are training and what type of cardiovascular improvements you are making.  It is also becoming more popular in fitness centers to do a submax VO2 test, which can individualize your heart rate zones. In these cases you can quickly determine your zones based on finding your anaerobic threshold. Once you find this threshold you can better determine the energy systems you are using and really dial in your personalized training zones.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.