Heart Rate Training Zones Made Easy: All you need to know for smart workouts.

If you’re already confused (what’s a Training Zone?), take two steps back to the Total Fitness Network story on terminology. Otherwise, here we go.

To get the results that fit your needs, you’ll want to stay within the appropriate range in heart rates for you. Here’s a simple explanation of the five “effort levels” for exercise. the Total Fitness Network Calculator will punch the buttons for you for any level you choose:

Very Easy

•    50-60 percent of your maximum

•    This is an extremely comfortable place to exercise with little exertion.

•    For someone who has never exercised — or not for a long time – someone who is very overweight, pregnant, in cardiac rehabilitation, or rehabilitating from some other injury. Many people will do a little bit here for a few days or weeks, then move on; or some may need to take a back-step to here at some point, then move forward again.


•    60-70 percent of your maximum

•    This feels fairly light, and might be considered brisk, but still very comfortable.

•    For easy days between hard days for athletes or exercise enthusiasts. It is also used to reach solid health goals by anyone. You could be moderately fit, lose a little weight, and be quite healthy if you always exercised here.


•    70-80 percent of your maximum

•    Moderate effort that isn’t really easy, but isn’t really hard. You have to focus a bit to keep going. You notice your breathing, your muscles, and your sweat.

•    For someone who wants to see more fitness improvements or weight loss. This is where many exercise enthusiasts, joggers, or group-exercise participants will work-out.


•    80-90 percent of your maximum

•    I won’t white-wash this one: It feels hard. Not over-the-top, collapsing hard, but pretty dang hard. You are at the top end of your “aerobic” zone (that is the place where you can still get enough oxygen in to satisfy your body’s needs). You are not panting, but breathing quite hard.

•    Mostly for athletes and harder-core exercise enthusiasts. This goes beyond the zones for simple everyday health benefits or basic weight loss, although you’ll get both of these at higher levels here.

Very Hard

•    90-100 percent of your maximum

•    If you aren’t into competing or pushing the edge of your envelope, stop reading here. This is hard, hard, hard, pure and simple. Hard. You are at the edge. You are going “anaerobic,” which means your body is demanding oxygen faster than it can be delivered. You are panting. Your muscles are quivering. Yes, ouch.

•    For competitors or true athletes only. This makes you faster and stronger to the nth degree.

Now that you have an idea of what the effort levels mean, take a peek at the Total Fitness Network calculator to determine where your zones are.

-Therese Iknoian

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