June is upon us and the focus on physical fitness in on. With trips planned, family get togethers arranged, and other social events on the calendar, people reach a peak focus on getting themselves fit! We all want to look good and feel good for these occasions. However, while it is important to “look good”, we at Heart Zones are focused on helping you get there in a Healthy and effective way. Which leads us to this month’s Heart-2-Heart about training in Zones & getting fit for the summer in the best way we know how!
Zoning Fitness | The Basics
ZONING is a fun and easy way to take your heart rate numbers and give them meaning. The ZONING methodology uses the 3 heart rate zones to indicate levels of intensity for your workout. When using a Blink heart rate monitor, these zones are easy to see in your blinking red, yellow, and blue colored lights. These colors are displayed based on your heart rate or BPM numbers— to indicate easy, moderate and hard work or effort.
It’s useful to think about the boundaries between these zones, too. These boundaries or “thresholds” are known as “T1” the first threshold and “T2” the second threshold. According to Dr. Carl Foster, T1 is the dividing line between the easy blue zone and the moderate yellow zone. Similarly, T2 is the divider between the moderate yellow zone and the hard red zone.
The important thing to remember with the thresholds and the zones is that they are dynamic — they change with changes in fitness. Training in different zones creates different health effects that can only be derived by training in that particular zone. Red zone workouts, for example, don’t create Yellow or Blue zone results. So as you are setting out to get ready for your late July trip to the beach, think about what kind of results you are trying to drive & train in the appropriate zone to get there. You will get their faster & in a healthier way!
The Blue Zone
The Blue zone is the easiest of the 3 zones, but it is a great zone for weight loss. Training in the Blue zone helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body fat. The Blue zone improves overall health, though it doesn’t do a lot to increase aerobic capacity. In this heart rate zone you can talk easily and experience little to no discomfort. For those familiar with the Rate of Perceived Exertion, or RPE scale, the easy Blue zone has a range of 1-21 and is defined as “an aerobic activity that does not cause a noticeable change in breathing and can be sustained for at least 60 minutes.”
2 Warm-ups, cool-downs and active recovery sets should be done in this zone. For novice and returning exercisers, the Blue zone is the perfect zone to re-boot a training regime. While the total calories burned here are low (4-6 kcal/min), fat serves as the main source of fuel, again making this zone great for losing weight.
The top heart rate of the Blue zone indicates the T1 threshold between the Blue zone and the Yellow zone.
The Yellow Zone
The Yellow zone sits between T1 and T2 heart rate thresholds. It is the transition zone between the easy Blue zone and the vigorous Red zone. Benefits for Yellow zone training include improved aerobic capacity, more total calories burned (5-8kcal/min), gains in muscle mass, and a higher base metabolic rate (which means you can burn more calories while resting).
The Yellow zone has a 3-4 RPE rating, which means aerobic activities in this zone can be sustained for 30-60 minutes while maintaining a relatively even conversation. Other benefits of Yellow zone aerobic exercise include an increase in the number and size of blood vessels, capillaries and coronary arteries; an increase in oxygen delivery to the brain and muscles; and an increase in both the size and strength of the heart.
The TLDR here is that the Yellow zone provides not only weight loss opportunity, but a chance to increase strength of your muscles & your heart. This is a great heart rate zone to spend time in for getting your Summer Body ready, but remember, for the best results & healthiest approach, you have to spend time in all three zones! Which leads us to the Red Zone (not to be confused as a football reference :))
The top heart rate of the Yellow zone indicates the T2 threshold between the Yellow zone and the Red zone.
The Red Zone
The Red zone sits above the T2 heart rate line. It is a hot and hard effort. T2 is also known as the anaerobic, ventilatory, or lactate threshold. Training in the Red zone burns the most calories and is an important zone for improvements in athletic performance. The Red zone has an RPE rating of 7 or greater, which means efforts cannot be maintained for more than 30 minutes nor can conversations be sustained.
The top heart rate of the Red zone is your maximum heart rate or the highest heart rate that you can ever reach. You will probably know when you find this 😉
Bottom line here is that if you learn to reach this heart rate zone and train in it for a short time, you are going to blow away your peers on your summer trip when they try to go for a run with you!
Need a Heart Rate Monitor to Get Started?
We are excited for you to get started training in heart rate zones and hope that you have a great time preparing for your summer trips! If you are looking for a heart rate monitor, a wrist top or an armband, that flashes the three colors that match the zones, we truly believe that we have the best heart rate monitors of any company around! Find them in the Heart Zones Store and then let us know how your summer training is going. We hope that you enjoy your summer workouts & look forward to speaking with you for our next Heart-2-Heart in July!