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 the 55 and better "chronologically-enriched" population 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, and group exercise instructor—in addition to promoting these concepts in a more systematic way through blogging and social media, community outreach, public speaking, corporate wellness program facilitation and senior fitness program support.
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