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We look at the heart rate how to work out your training zone with fitness expert, Matt Hart…

Q. Using my Garmin heart rate monitor, it has shown that I can reach a maximum HR of 193 and an average overnight HR of 59. On a steady run over 8.5miles I’ll have an average HR of approx 170 and a max HR of approx 183. Are these figures normal? And how would I work out my ‘training zones’. I am a 44-year old male, 5’8” and 12.5 stone. I train with the local Harriers: short efforts/ hills on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I do a parkrun every two weeks; and I do a long run or an orienteering competition on a Sunday. Gary, by email

A. The most useful figure for you to use would be something called your ‘Threshold Heart Rate’ and the best way to find this out is to warm up really well and then run 5K as fast as you can. The average HR achieved will be your ‘Threshold’. A proper fitness test is really needed to establish your zones properly, but as a guide, see below:

  • Under 70% of Threshold: Z1 Recovery
  • 70 to 80% of Threshold: Z2 Low Level Aerobic
  • 80 to 90% of Threshold: Z3 Medium Level Aerobic
  • 90-100% of Threshold: Z4 High Level Aerobic
  • 100% of Threshold: Z5 Threshold
  • Above 100% of Threshold: Z6 Interval

Use the lower aerobic zones to develop endurance and fat burning and try to run these sessions on flatter terrain to maintain a constant heart rate. The higher level aerobic and threshold sessions require a bit more ‘welly’. The interval sessions really involve a lot of concentration and involve bouts of high intensity work followed by active rest, usually on hills or on the track. Ultimately, your overall fitness will make the biggest improvements if you dedicate time to all of these zones, but a coach will be able to give you more specific advice based on your goals.

Expert: Matt Hart, Torq Fitness consultant, torqfitness.com

Image: Giovanni Cancemi/Shutterstock