Perhaps you've heard about cardio "zones".
You may have even heard me harp on the importance of steady-stage cardio more than once.
Well guess what, it's for good reason!
Zone 2 cardio is sustained cardiovascular effort that is typically 60-75% of your max heart rate (give or take a little for everyone.)
Let's breakdown why this is important, how to determine your zone, and how much you should get in every week!
How do I find my Zone 2?
I like an easy rule of thumb. So unless you are training for elite competition or have a need for a number that is much more specific to your body, the simplest way to determine your Zone 2 is to start with your heart rate max.
Your heart rate max is 220 - your age. So if you're 37 years old, the maximum heart rate you should acheive during exercise - AGAIN give or take as there is always some fluctuation - would be 183.
To get your Zone 2, multiple that number by .7 and in this instance the Zone 2 is roughly 128. Staying within 10 BPM of that number during your Zone 2 workout would be the goal.
What is moderate, Zone 2 work? And, Why?
There is a time and a place for HIIT - especially if you want to work with training at higher intensity thresholds, you're short on time, you want to spice up your metabolism, or you want to improve your heart-rate recovery. But unlike HITT, Zone 2 cardio is working with a steady-state of moderate cardio.
The endurance factor of Zone 2 is one of its best benefits. You are literally strengthening your heart, and helping your body adjust and become more comfortable with the discomfort of sustained effort - without completely draining yourself.
The way you burn fuel in Zone 2 is also beneficial and efficient. When you are in a cardiovascular state your body is going to demand more oxygen. This is ideal for the body. It also has an easier time burning up easily available glycogen stores, and because of the sustained effort move on to also burning fat reserves.
The intensity is achievable, and you will be less prone to injury. Regularly getting in a brisk power walk, jog, swim, or cycle for 30 sustained minutes will acclimate you to developing more durable joints (go for lower impact if your joints are already tender) and it gives you a break from high-impact work like plyometrics, or exercises that demand quick directional changes that you might engaged with during more focused athletic conditioning workouts.
How much Zone 2?
It really seems like we need to do everything, all the time, doesn't it?
I hear that! How could you possible lift 2-3x per week, and get Zone 2, and engage in Yoga & Meditation -- and live your life?
Well think of Zone 2 as something that can stand alone, or in combination.
A rule of thumb for cardio is typically "elevate your heart rate for 30m/day, 5 days per week" But, guess what? There are lots of ways to get your heart in the Zone. You don't always have to do an hour long workout, and there are a lot of ways to get your heart rate up that don't include running. You might be surprised!
Some ideas to keep your heart in the mix:
Remember, we train for our game, and we cross-train to prevent injury.
So if you love Vinyasa Yoga you will need to incorporate some structure to offset its repetitive motions in end-range positions. If you love to run, you'll probably need to incorporate some stretching and conditioning days that get you moving in different directions. And, if you love to lift heavy, you may need to make an extra effort to get cardio and mobility training in to prevent injury.
Plan for your week, and don't skip your Zone 2.
Body. Mind. Spirit.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 22 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 13 years I have worked as an instructor, a wellness business owner, the Founder of Practice Everywhere, and now I am embarking on a new adventure to expand how we define our Personal and Public Practices.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜