Every move you make, every walk, sprint, cycle, swim or lift, whether it’s indoors or outside, on land or underwater, your heart is powering you through. It fights 24/7 to keep you alive, make you fitter, faster and stronger with every beat; so when it comes to training it’s essential to monitor your heart rates performance. It’s earned your attention.

Training with Heart Rate

Training via heart rate transforms randomised training into a precise calculated performance, transforming your fitness and body.

The Basics

Those training using a heart rate monitor will use different training zones to optimise their performance. These zones are calculated via percentages of your maximum heart rate:

Maximum heart rate = 220 - (your age)

Firstly we need to understand what happens to the body in each of these zones:

% Of Max Activity Description
50%- 60% Maximum heart rate Very light activity (walking) This training zone improves your overall health and recovery. It’s low intensity so calorie burn potential is low.
60%- 70% Maximum heart rate Light Activity (warm up, light jog, relaxed swim) This training zone improves your basic performance and fat burning potential. Before any training at least 5 minutes should be spent in this zone, warming the body up and making the muscles pliable for performance to prevent injury.
70%- 80% Maximum heart rate Moderate Activity (running, cycling, high rep weight training) This training zone improves your aerobic fitness. Known to many as your ‘fat burning’ zone, this steady state cardio will help to break down adipose tissue. This intensity of training should not need much recovery and is often used by those training at a high frequency or preceding a large sporting event.
80%- 90% Maximum heart rate Hard Activity (Sprinting, Spin, low rep weight training) This training zone improves your maximum performance capacity (VO2 Max). At this point, we break the anaerobic threshold. Known as your ‘fitness improvement’ zone training in this zone and above increases your overall level of fitness and lung capacity. Exercise of short sharp intensity takes longer for your body to recover from and therefore we have an ‘afterburn’ calorie deficit.
90%- 100% Maximum heart rate Very Hard Activity ( Athletic competing, 1 Rep max lifts) This anaerobic training zone improves your maximum performance and speed. It can only be maintained for short durations.,Activity is very strenuous and, therefore, recovery takes time, your body needs to continue to use fuel to repair and therefore we burn calories for up to 48 hours after this kind of activity has taken place.


Once we have assessed which zone our training goals fall into, we can develop a plan and monitor our heart rate throughout exercise to ensure we are training at the right intensity. Monitoring your heart rate drop is also a useful tool for judging your overall fitness, the faster your heart rate recovers from higher intensity to rest, the higher level of fitness you have.

Below are some examples of how you might incorporate heart rate into your training:

For a 10k Runner:

Training for a 10k would usually involve a variety of different running techniques, training at different tempo’s with varying distance.

A runner may incorporate heart rate training into their regime like so:

Prior to the event:

Here the aim is to develop a higher level of fitness, therefore, the client should be aiming for a shorter run at 80%- 90% Maximum heart rate, this will help build the body’s ability to run at a higher intensity for a further distance.

The Event:

During the 10k the runner will perform at 80%- 90% Maximum heart rate. Whilst this is a higher intensity than would be expected, we have to take into account the adrenaline and competitiveness of the runner. Most runners will perform at their fastest pace and heart rate during the event itself. It may even reach 90%- 100% Maximum heart rate as they hit the final 100-metre sprint, counting how many people they can beat before the finish line.

After the Event:

The first run after the event should be a gentle recover run at 60%- 70% Maximum heart rate, though the speed will seem slow, it is vital for recovery and will help to prevent injury.

For Weight Loss:

In order to lose weight, we want to build muscle and burn fat.

A weekly programme might include:

2/3 x 80%- 90% Maximum heart rate training sessions. The anabolic effect of these training sessions plus the calorie afterburn maximises fat loss.

2/3 x 70%- 80% Maximum heart rate steady state cardio sessions to help boost fat loss.

As these sessions are lower intensity, they take little recovery, therefore it would be effective to train within these zones the day after a harder intensity session.

So our weight loss client would for example train :

  • Day 1: 80%- 90% Maximum heart rate
  • Day 2: 70%- 80% Maximum heart rate
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: 80%- 90% Maximum heart rate
  • Day 5: 70%- 80% Maximum heart rate
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: 70%- 80% Maximum heart rate

The most unique training tool, nothing is more personalised for your performance than your own heart rate.

Monitoring your heart rate makes every session designed to succeed, if one day you have more energy, you’ll be able to see you can push that little bit harder before your heart rate hits its target zone. If on another occasion your body is already tired, your resting heart rate will be higher so you will be able to adjust the intensity of your workout to meet your needs.

One of my favourite fitness proverbs states:

“ Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body does.”

With heart rate training there's no cheating. No hiding. Your heart rate can’t lie.

You’ll know when you need to push that bit harder or when you've smashed a workout.

Sundried have trialled and approved Mio’s heart rate watches:

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