FREE RESOURCE

ZONES CALCULATOR

INSTRUCTIONS

Welcome to my zones calculator! To calculate your cardio or running zones, you will need to complete a 30- or 60-minute long threshold test. Alternatively, you can input the data from a recent race that was approximately 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or a half marathon distance to calculate your running zones.

To complete a threshold test, start with a general running or cardio warm-up, including 5-10 minutes of easy cardio to get your body warmed up. Then, try to cover as much distance as you can in 30 or 60 minutes using a sustained pace. The goal is to put forth your maximum effort while maintaining a steady pace. Try to keep your heart rate or general effort consistent throughout the test, rather than increasing and decreasing it over time. The most accurate results will come from a test with heart rate data that forms a plateau, rather than a zig-zag pattern. Input the average heart rate during the plateau below. NOTE: Your heart rate may gradually increase, THEN plateau after ~5-10 minutes; you can use this average heart rate for the test. 

Please keep in mind that 60-minute fitness tests will provide the most accurate results. 30-minute tests may overestimate your fitness level, while half-marathon tests may underestimate it, depending on your strengths and weaknesses in training (for example, being better at shorter, faster efforts but worse at sustaining speed). This calculator will also be most accurate for those with an established training history, and its accuracy will improve over time or as your fitness level improves. Absolute beginners or those with low cardio fitness levels are advised to focus on training for 3-12 months before placing too much emphasis on perfect training zones. zones).

Here’s a breakdown of 3 different types of heart rate zones you will see below and when to use %HRmax (heart rate max), %HRR (heart rate reserve), and threshold test heart rate data:

→ Threshold HR: This is for individuals with an established fitness baseline and good threshold testing data that doesn’t artificially inflate their heart rate due to a lower baseline fitness status. Outside of lab-based lactate testing, heart rate, and VO2max testing, threshold heart rate data will be the most accurate for those with a baseline of fitness and good data.

→ %HRmax:
This is suitable for beginners who don’t have threshold test data, aren’t aware of their actual max or resting heart rate, or have a low fitness status. %HRmax will be more accurate for individuals with a true max heart rate and may not differ much from %HRR for those with a lower cardio fitness status.

→ %HRR: This is for individuals with no threshold data or poor threshold test heart rate data who know their actual max and resting heart rates. %HRR may be slightly more accurate than %HR, for those who know their heart rate data and/or have an established fitness baseline.

If you can’t run or do any cardio activity for 30-60 minutes without stopping, or if you can’t run at a pace faster than a 12-13-minute mile for 30-60 minutes: I recommend using RPE or improving your basic fitness before focusing on the accuracy of your heart rate zones. It may be more suitable for you to use %HR max or %HRR at this point. Instead of using your threshold heart rate or doing a threshold test, you can calculate your heart rate zones based on your age.

For more help with figuring out your cardio or running zones, Doc Lyss offers these resources to help you learn more, improve your training or for personalized help:

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Exercise Scientist, ultra runner, lifter, human.