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Get In The Zone... The Heart Rate Zone! Heart Rate Monitoring 101

Jason Raines

Whether you are an aspiring pro racer or a weekend warrior, it is very important to make sure that you are getting the most beneficial workout possible!

In my opinion, the most important training tool you can purchase is a Heart Rate Monitor or (HRM). A HRM’s lets you know if you are pushing too hard or not hard enough during your workouts. Using an HRM also helps you get to the desired level of fitness and prepares you for racing or casual riding.

You can find reasonably priced heart rate monitors at about any sports store. It doesn't have to be the fanciest one on the shelf but you do want to make sure to purchase one that comes with a chest strap! Chest Strap HRM’s allow you to see your heart rate at any given moment, whereas the wrist-watch-only models can take up to ten or fifteen seconds to get a reading. (This can be very frustrating during a workout!) :thumbsup:

There are three key features you should be looking when purchasing an HRM. It should have the ability to show you your average heart rate, max heart rate, and total calories burned. For a little more money some HRM’s have the ability to download your heart rate patterns to your computer in a graph format.

Note: If you get this feature you can track were your heart rate spikes (up and down) are during your workout period or ride, which is a great way to figure out what affects your heart the most.

I have included a "Recommended Heart Rate Zone" graph that represents different levels of performance based on your age. This is a great starting point to finding your best heart rate zone!


If you are a serious racer, I recommend trying to work out in the "Peak Athletic Performance Zone.” This zone is designed to make you push your heart rate each and every time you work out!

Note: If you are a serious racer then you need to be pushing hard during each and every workout!

Now if you just want to lose weight and get a good workout routine, start in the "Fat Burning/Weight Control Zone.” This will help you shed some of that winter coat before the season starts!

Note: No matter what you are looking to accomplish there is a zone for you! This pictured chart helps you find the starting point to your specific level of fitness. Training at a consistent heart rate will make you stronger and faster for an extended period of time.

Note: To read the graph, find your age at the bottom then scroll up the left hand side and you will find your recommended heart rate level. (For example if you are 40 and looking to maintain or lose weight you should be keeping your heart rate in the 110-125 range.)

The "Recommended Heart Rate Zone" graph is just the starting point. The next step is to ride with your heart rate monitor on. This will allow you to pin point the level you need to be working out at. Once you ride/race with your heart rate monitor a few times, take notice to your average heart rate.

Note: If you are riding with an average heart rate of 160 and you go to the gym and your average is 135, you are not doing enough to get your heart ready for the demands of riding!

Most riders average a heart rate of 160BPM (Beats Per Minute) while riding. If you fall into that category, try to work out with an average of 160BPM or higher.

Note: The goal here is to have your heart prepared for the demands of riding your bike!

Now the graph is a great tool but in my opinion using your average riding heart rate and matching it to your work out hear rate is the best practice.

Note: The graph is just a starting point. The riding is the target point!

Everybody is different so try and track your heart rate levels and then compare them with the results you are having on the bike. Some riders have better results running slightly lower heart rates the week before the event and then pushing their heart rates higher the week after the event. My personal results were always better pushing my heart rate levels higher the week leading up to the event and then toning it down a bit the week after the event. Try experiment with both ways to see what works best for you!

Now, if you have races every weekend it gets a little more difficult. If that the case, I would keep my heart rate levels up high for 2-3 days, and lower 1 day.

In closing remember that each person is different! It took years to figure out the system that worked best for me so continue to listen to your body. It’s better for you to have a good quality workout than to go workout when you are tired and have a lackluster performance. Always practice quality over quantity and I promise that the hard work you put in during the week will give you the best results on the weekend!

Good luck on your pursuit to becoming a stronger and fitter rider. When you work at it and get into good shape it makes riding the bike a lot more enjoyable and safer!

Have a great day… I look forward to seeing you at the races!

Jason Raines #100


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