Here’s the breakdown on Training Zones!

As with weight training, cardiorespiratory training also falls under the principle of specificity – meaning, the body will adapt to the level of stress placed on it and therefore requires more or varied amounts of stress to elicit a higher level of adaptation in the future (that is, become a healthier, fitter you!)

With this said, it is crucial to note the significance of overtraining.  Overtraining refers to excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training, resulting in fatigue and/or lack of proper rest and recovery.

In order to safely and effectively progress in a cardiorespiratory training program and minimize the risk of overtraining and injury, stage training is recommended.

Stage 1 – Zone 1 (Recovery)

  • Focus is to improve the cardiorespiratory fitness levels in apparently healthy sedentary individuals.
  • Target Heart Rate:  65 to 75% of maximum HR
  • Approximately 12 to 13 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale
  • Individual should be able to hold a conversation during the duration of the fitness activity.
  • Examples:  Walking; Jogging
  • Able to maintain Zone 1 HR for at least 30 minutes two to three times per week? You are ready for Stage 2!

Stage 2 – Zone 2 (Lactate Threshold)

  • Individuals with low-moderate cardiorespiratory fitness levels who are ready to begin training at higher intensity levels.
  • Focus is to increase workload (speed, incline, level) in order to alter heart rate in and out of Zone 1 HR and Zone 2 HR
  • Target Heart Rate:  76 to 85% of maximum HR
  • Approximately 14 to 16 on RPE scale
  • Examples:  Group Exercise Classes; Spinning (indoor cycling)

Stage 3 – Zone 3 (Peak/Interval)

  • Individuals with moderately high cardiorespiratory fitness levels.
  • Focus is to increase workload (speed, incline, level) in order to alter heart rate in and out of all three zones.
  • Target Heart Rate:  86 to 95% of maximum HR
  • Approximately 17 to 19 on RPE scale
  • Example:  Sprinting


STAGE 1 Training Parameters

  • 5 – 10 minutes: Warm-Up (Zone 1)
  • 30 – 60 minutes: Workout (Zone 1 – gradual increase within same zone)
  • 5 – 10 minutes:  Cool-Down (Zone 1)

STAGE 2 Training Parameters

  • 5 – 10 minutes:  Warm-Up (Zone 1)
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2
  • 3 minutes:  Zone 1
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2
  • 3 minutes: Zone 1
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2
  • 5 – 10 minute:  Cool-Down (Zone 1)

STAGE 3 Training Parameters

  • 5 – 10 minutes:  Warm-Up (Zone 1)
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2 (gradual increase within same zone)
  • 1 minute:  Zone 3
  • 1 minute:  Zone 2
  • 1 minute:  Zone 3
  • 5 – 10 minutes:  Cool-Down (Zone 1)


* Questions? Comments? Please post below!

* Sample Circuit Training work outs coming soon! Stay tuned!

About rrluthi

Certified fitness expert with a passion for educating and empowering people of all ages (young "kiddos" to the active aging "baby boomers") about the benefits of adopting and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle, preventing injury, and feeling good. Proven strengths applying cutting-edge fitness/wellness concepts and research through roles as a health coach, fitness trainer, group exercise instructor, and rehabilitation aide—in addition to promoting these concepts in a more systematic way through blogging and social media, community outreach, and corporate wellness program facilitation.
This entry was posted in HIIT! Heart-Pumping Interval Tips and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.