Heart Rate Zones

Cycling is an amazing low-impact way to maintain fitness or get into shape. With advances in wearable technology like smartwatches, heart rate monitors, and power meters, you can find out incredibly detailed information about your performance. For heart rate monitors like chest straps or watches, they will often work alongside an app that will present the data in an easy-to-digest format. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the various heart rate zones, max heart rates, and what you need to know about them!

Max Heart Rate

A quick and dirty test to calculate your maximum heart rate is by subtracting 220 from your age. According to Bike Radar, the only way to get a precise max heart rate is with a physiological test from scientists. Well, that doesn’t bode well for most of us! The good news is, you can get a pretty good estimate by doing your own max heart test. Instructions as follows!

  • Warm-up for at least 15 minutes
  • On a long, steady hill, start off at a medium pace and increase your effort every minute.
  • Do this seated for at least five minutes until you can’t go any faster while staying seated.
  • At this point, get out of the saddle and sprint as hard as you can for 15 seconds.
  • Immediately check your heart rate reading or, after the ride, download your data and look for the highest heart rate number. This is your max heart rate!

Heart Rate Zones

 The Association of British Cycling recommends a six-zone system for tracking your heart rate:

Zone 1 (60-65% of maximum heart rate): For long, easy rides, and burning fat.

Zone 2 (65-75% of MHR): The basic base training zone. Longish rides of medium difficulty.

Zone 3 (75-82% of MHR): Cardio zone. Increasing aerobic capacity and endurance.

Zone 4 (82-89% of MHR): For simulating a fast pace when preparing for a race.

Zone 5 (89-94% of MHR): For raising anaerobic threshold.

Zone 6 (94-100% of MHR): For high-intensity interval training to increase maximum power and speed.

Using This Information

Using heart rate information will help you become a better cyclist overall. Not only will this data give you something fun to look at after each ride, but you will also get insights into how your performance is changing over time. If you are looking for a smartwatch or heart rate monitor to start tracking your rides, head over here!

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