Train by heart rate

cardio metabolic testing Auckland CrossFit Andfit
Ready to discover the benefits of basing workout intensity on heart rate to meet and exceed your goals? Let’s dive in!

Ready to discover the benefits of basing workout intensity on heart rate? We’ll look at what training by heart rate means, why it’s important, and how workout intensity based on heart rate can help you meet and exceed your goals. Let’s dive in!  

If you’re using metrics such as mileage/kilometres logged, weight gained or lost, body fat percentages, sets and reps, and calories consumed, you know that they help you track your progress toward your health and fitness goals. What many ignore though is probably the most significant measurement there is: your heart rate.


Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Heart-rate training simply means keeping your heart rate within a set range during a workout. The range is represented by a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is the most amount of times that your heart can beat in a minute.  

Heart-rate training gives you guidance, so you know if you are pushing too hard and increasing your risk of injury or taking it too easy and missing out on fitness gains. Through a comprehensive heart rate test done by a fitness professional, you can develop training and nutrition plans that are customized to your body.

So essentially, a workout based on your heart rate is physiologically customized to you. Take a 30-minute treadmill workout for example. Instead of making a distance or pace your workout goal, you could aim to keep your heart rate between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate during those 30 minutes.

It also takes variables into account such as weather and even your energy level as these variables can be accommodated by training with heart rate. Another variable can be  the amount of effort required to run 5 kilometres on a flat road which will be considerably less than the effort that running 3 kilometres uphill demands. There is a direct correlation between heart rate and effort exerted and therefore, this variable can be taken into account too.


The first step in heart-rate training is to measure your maximal heart rate. A common formula used by athletes for many years is to subtract 220 from your age to determine this. However, this formula has its limits as it’s based on averages of large numbers of people and can be inaccurate by 10 to 12 beats per minute in either direction of the formula’s answer. 

Athletes may easily be pushing too hard or not enough in their training if they determined their maximal heart rate using this formula. 

The gold standard for finding your maximum heart rate is cardio-metabolic testing, but you can simulate a base test on your own with a heart-rate monitor. lease consult with your doctor or coach before attempting any of these tests if unsure.   

Try racing a 5k all- out while wearing a heart rate monitor and a compatible watch. You should cross the finish line with nothing left in the tank. Review the data recorded by your watch during the race. The highest reading you reached while running will be relatively close to your max heart rate.

To determine your true maximum heart rate, repeat the test 2 or 3 more times over the course of the next couple of days. Record your max heart rate for each effort and use the highest reading. 


Once you know your maximum heart rate (MHR), you can establish your training zones by multiplying your maximum by a percentage. For example, if your MHR is 180, multiply that by 0.6 and 0.7 to find the Zone 1 range. Repeat for Zones 2 to 4 with the percentages below:

Zone 1:  60-70% of your max heart rate.  This is a very light intensity effort. Think warm-up or cool-down pace.

Zone 2: 70-80% of max heart rate. Used for the bulk of training, you should be able to carry on a conversation at this pace.

Zone 3: 80-90% of max heart rate.  Think long runs when you think Zone 3.  You should be breathing slightly harder here, and only able to speak in short sentences.

Zone 4: 90-100% of max heart rate.  This harder intensity effort will raise your lactate threshold. Zone 3 is a very hard, but sustainable effort, only allowing you to speak a few words at a time. Think tempo run.

Zone 5: 100-110% of max heart rate. Think of sprinting to the finish line or to the top of that hill on your bike. You can’t talk, and you probably don’t want to anyway!

Look at your heart rate not only when you’re training. Check it in the morning, after a good night’s sleep are great moments to determine your resting heart rate (before drinking coffee and starting rushing around the house).

The lower your resting heart rate (the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest), the better.

A low resting heart rate typically indicates that your heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Active individuals and athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates, and some may even have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute!


For finding your maximum heart rate, a cardio-metabolic test is the most reliable method.

This includes a VO2max (max volume of oxygen) test in combination with a resting metabolic test. During both restating metabolic and exercise test, you will wear a mask and heart rate monitor. 

Once you know your personal heart rate zones you can use them to get the most out of your workouts. The results will basically allow you to detect the intensity at which your body burns the most fat so you can structure your workouts and nutrition around this knowledge together with your tester.

We’re excited to announce that cardio-metabolic testing is coming soon to Andfit thanks to the newly developed portable cardio-metabolic analyser from PNOĒ.

Whether you are a beginner who wants to get healthy and strong, or an athlete who wants workouts physiologically customized to you based on heart rate, our testers can help you take your fitness to the next level. 

Book a free No Sweat Intro with ustoday. We will help you with goal setting and planning.

Or contact us to find out more about the health and fitness services we offer to Auckland and beyond!

Let’s get started!

fill out the form below to get started!

Take the first step towards getting the results you want!