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Find Your Zone: The Ultimate Zone 2 Cardio Calculator Guide

Exercise is undoubtedly a boost for your health, and cardio has been a focal point throughout the fitness regime. In general, there is a deep misunderstanding of high-intensity and painful workouts as the ultimate schedule one must follow. However, it isn't really the truth. In fact, low-intensity workouts can reap the same benefits as any other workout format. 


In this article, The Best for Him brings you the ultimate secret of low-intensity workouts, the  zone 2 cardio calculator, which will help you cross your fitness barriers and keep track of training with a higher energy metabolism and an active recovery ride. In addition, we have included all the necessary tools to help you engage in zone 2 cardio, such as target heart rate zone calculators, among other useful resources. So, without delay, hop on to the fitness track and learn zone 2 cardio.

What are the heart rate training zones?

You may have noticed that your heart rates change with different exercises, such as when your heartbeat is higher while running than when walking. Similarly, in technical terms, heart rate training zones correspond to a specific range of heartbeats with respect to different exercise intensities. One can use their knowledge of heart rate training zones to guide their fitness goals. Let's start the session by learning about Zone 2 cardio and how to calculate it.

Zone 2 cardio calculator for effective training

For your convenience, we have listed a few methods for calculating Zone 2 cardio. Although not all of them are accurate, they will surely launch you to the nearest cardio zone values. 

Maximum Heart Rate Method

When a person takes up zone 2 cardio exercises, he has 60–70% of his maximum heart rate. So, all you need to do is get to know your maximum heart rate and find out what the 60–70% heart rate range is. To get to the point of calculating your maximum heart rate, you can take simple tests such as cycling or running, wherein you start slow but increase the speed gradually and stop at a point where you no longer have the capacity to speed up. At this point, measure your heart rate to determine your maximum heart rate. Next, subtract your age from this value, and then multiply by 0.6 and 0.7 to get the maximum and minimum threshold values. If that sounds a lot, follow up with this example for the zone 2 cardio calculator. 


If your maximum heart rate is 190 and your age is 30, then subtract 30 from 190, which will be 160. Now, multiply 160 by 0.6, and you will have a minimum threshold equal to 96. Next, multiply 160 by 0.7, and you will have the maximum threshold value of 112. So, your zone 2 cardio ranges from 96 to 112.


MAF 180 Formula

This formula by Phil Maffetone is another genius way to calculate your zone 2 cardio zone. The magic number is 180, and besides subtracting your age, you have to add or subtract certain numbers from 180 based on your health conditions to know your zone, as follows:.

  • In cases of severe health issues such as heart disease or in need of regular medication and overtraining burnouts, minus an additional ten.

  • If there is an injury, you catch a cold, fall ill more than twice a year, have seasonal allergies, or are just restarting the training, remove an additional 5 from it.

  • If you have regularly trained for two years, at least four times a week, there isn't a need to change the number.

  • If you have been training for more than two years without any injuries and with constant improvement, then add 5.


Lactate test

Lactate measurement is an accurate way of judging zone 2 cardio. All you need to do is measure your lactate threshold after your workout session. If it falls between 1.7 and 1.9 mm, it represents zone 2.


Understanding Heart Rate Zones

As mentioned earlier, heart rate zones are a range of heart beats per minute that relate to our work intensity. Typically, the heart rate zone measures a specific percentage range of the maximum heart rate. Furthermore, energy sources vary across zones. Now, let's understand the different heart rate zones and how you can benefit from each of them.

  • Zone 1 has 50–60% of maximum heart rate (MHR), is the easiest of all, and is classified as very light. It's more of a warm-up session and helps in the recovery journey.

  • Zone 2 has 60–70% of the maximum heart rate (MHR), falls under the light category, and aids in endurance building, besides boosting metabolism and burning fat reserves.

  • Zone 3 has 70–80% of the maximum heart rate (MHR) and needs a moderate effort. It tests your aerobic threshold and builds strength.

  • Zone 4 has 80–90% of the maximum heart rate (MHR) and is out of the hard category. It boosts endurance and brings you to the anaerobic threshold's limit.

  • Zone 5 has 90–100% of the maximum heart rate (MHR) and needs your maximum training efforts, usually needed for speed training.


Significance of Zone 2 Cardio Training 

  • Zone 2 cardio exercises are an excellent way to burn body fat for fuel.

  • Because of its low-intensity sessions, there are fewer chances of injury, which boosts your recovery.

  • It improves the oxidative capacity of your body's skeletal muscles and increases stamina.

  • It allows you to manage your body temperature in a balanced manner, and it also enhances your cardiovascular activity.


Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

Maximum heart rate refers to the highest number of heartbeats a person can experience per minute. It differs among individuals, and a lot of external as well as internal factors are responsible for it. For instance, as we age, our heart rate tends to decrease, and genetic factors also influence the maximum heart rate. You need to know your maximum heart rate so that you can make the most of your fitness journey. Especially since one can design their own cardio zone exercises based on their MHR. However, one key point to remember is: don't be worried about your MHR being higher or lower than others; it's all about designing your fitness journey rather than a judgement on your fitness itself.


Moving on, let's dive into understanding how you can calculate your maximum heart rate. There are many formulas that will serve as a maximum heart rate calculator, and here are a few of them.

  • Fox formula: The above calculation of the subtraction of age from the number 220 is based on this formula. For example, if your age is 25, then according to this formula, your maximum heart rate is 195.


If you are 25 years old, then 220-25 = 195.


  • HUNT formula: This is more specific to men and women with active lifestyles. The formula is 211-(0.64 x age). If you were 25 years old, your maximum heart rate would still be 195. 


For the age 25, 211-(0.64x 25) = 211-16 = 95.


  • Tanaka formula: It is suitable for men and women aged over 40. The formula is 208 (0.7x age). By applying the Tanaka formula to a base age of 40 years, your maximum heart rate would be 180.


For age 40, 208-(0.7x 40) = 208-28 = 180.

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)

Knowing your heart rate reserve is another component of leveling up your cardiac training intensity. To understand heart rate reserve, you must be familiar with two terms: maximum heart rate and resting heart rate. Since we already explained in depth what the maximum heart rate is and how to calculate it, let's move on to the second part, resting heart rate. 


Essentially, resting heart rate refers to the rate of heartbeat per minute when you are not exercising or in a non-active resting position. To know your resting heart rate, follow these simple steps.

  • Get into a relaxed position; preferably, sit down for at least five minutes. So, that you bring your blood pressure back to normalcy and have a constant blood flow.

  • Now, place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist and look for the heartbeat.

  • Also, if you find it difficult to trace your heartbeat on the wrist, try to feel it on the side of your neck, next to the windpipe.

  • Once you get a hold of your heartbeat, count for 30 seconds and then double it; this will be your resting heart rate.

  • Heart rate monitors are another piece of equipment you could try if you're not sure about manually counting the heartbeat per minute.


Now that you have your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate, it is quite easy to calculate your heart rate reserve.

All you need to do is subtract your resting heart rate from the maximum heart rate. For example, if your maximum heart rate is 180 and your resting heart rate is 60, then your heart rate reserve would be 120.


Importance of heart rate reserve

Heart rate reserve is a great way of knowing your actual fitness level. Although it varies with individuals, it's usually preferable to have a higher heart rate reserve. Knowing your heart rate reserves will allow you to create a customized training intensity to reach your fitness goals. Furthermore, it will reduce the risk of potential injuries and cardiac complications resulting from excessive physical exhaustion. Also, with regular monitoring of heart rate reserve over time, you will be able to track your fitness improvement. Since an increased heart rate reserve is a positive indication of your fitness,. 

Additionally, a 25-year follow-up study has suggested a link between lower heart rate reserves and heart rate recovery following cardiac arrest. It suggests an increase in heart rate reserve by 1 beat per minute decreases sudden cardiac death by 1-2% relatively.

Target Heart Rates for Zone 2

Coming to the last phase of acing your cardio zone 2 exercises, all you need to do is find the golden heart rate zone for your ultimate exercise episodes, as well as the target heart rates. 

Maximum heart rate method

As mentioned previously, there are five zones of cardiac exercises based on difficulty level, and each of them has a perfect ratio of your maximum heart rate. So, with this knowledge, let's understand how you can crack the code for yourself with maximum heart rate. Let's take age 40 as an example. After knowing the MHR by any of the above methods, you can multiply it by the percentage of exercise intensity you wish to take up. Based on the Fox formula, let's assume MHR is 180. Following is a brief list of what the target heart rate would be for each zone for a 40-year-old person.

  • Zone 1: Since it needs 50–60% of MHR, multiply 180 by 0.5 and 0.6 to get the target heart rates for Zone 1, which will be 90–108 bpm zone.

  • Zone 2: With 60–70% of MHR, multiply 180 by 0.6 and 0.7 to reach the target heartbeat range; it will be around 108–126 bpm zone.

  • Zone 3: To get the target heart rate for Zone 3, multiply 180 by 0.7 and 0.8, which will be in the range of 126–144 bpm zone.

  • Zone 4: For zone 4, multiply 180 with 0.8 and 0.9, which brings the target heart range around 114–162 bpm zone.

  • Zone 5: To get the target heart rate, multiply 180 by 0.9 and 1.0, which shows the range to be 162-180 bpm zone.


Karvonen method

To calculate your heart rate training zone using the Karvonen method, you should properly calculate all three parameters above: MHR, RHR, and HRR. Once you have an idea of all three values, you can proceed to apply the Karvonen formula to determine the range of heart rates. The formula is as follows: Percentage intensity of HRR + RHR.


To elucidate, let us explain the Karvonen method with the same example of age 40 and MHR of 180. Furthermore, when calculating target heart rate zones, let's assume an RHR of 40. Since MHR is 189 and RHR is 40, HRR would be about 140. Because HRR = MHR-RHR.

  • Zone 1: With the addition of RHR, it will be 50–60% HRR. Since 50–60% of HRR (140) would be between 70 and 84,. By adding RHR (40), the values would be around 110–124 bpm zone.

  • Zone 2: With a similar calculation of 60–70% of HRR and an added RHR value, the target heart rate would be around 124–138 bpm zone.

  • Zone 3: For zone 3 with 70–80% HRR, the value would be around 138–152 bpm zone.

  • Zone 4: With 80–90% HRR, the target heart rate would be in the 152-166 bpm zone.

  • Zone 5: With 90–100% HRR, the heartbeat range would be around 166–188 bpm zone.


Zoladz method

This is an accurate method for endurance athletes who wish to decide their heart rate zones quicker without any equipment. Let's look at how to calculate the target heart rate zone with the Zoladz formula. First, you need to know your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). After that, you can calculate a percentage of your LTHR to determine your target thresholds.


  • Zone 1: The calculation for zone 1, which includes light-intensity exercises, should be approximately 60% of LTHR.

  • Zone 2: One needs to calculate 60–70% of LTHR bpm for zone 2 cardio calculation, which is the fat burning zone.

  • Zone 3: A moderate exercise training plan accounts for about 70–80% of LTHR.

  • Zone 4: For hard intensity or tough workouts, calculate about 80–90% of LTHR.

  • Zone 5–90% of LTHR is the ideal target heart rate zone for high-intensity workouts performed by elite athletes.


Training benefits of exercising in Zone 2

Zone 2 cardio routines primarily focus on maximizing the efficiency of mitochondria. The body uses fat to fuel type 1 muscles during low-intensity workouts. In contrast, type 2 muscles fueled by carbohydrates are useful for safe, high-intensity workouts. 


The cardio zone 2 utilizes this specific nature of type 1 muscles, creating an increased graph for mitochondrial functioning. As the mass and number of mitochondria increase, the body stores the essential fuel glycogen and uses fat as a fuel source. Besides, it also clears the lactate buildup within the muscles, which boosts the body's recovery phase. With a higher workout efficiency and a decreased injury period, which translates to a decreased recovery period, you will be able to speed up your fitness goal by performing physical activities pertaining to cardio zone 2.


Keeping in mind all of these benefits, all trainers, whether beginners or elite athletes, can restore the benefits of cardio zone 2 with their personal heart rate training exercises.



Target heart rate zones can be an essential tool to boost the efficiency of your exercises. Zone 2 target heart rates have the maximum benefits, such as boosting mitochondrial functions and helping to take up fat as fuel.


With the appropriate zone 2 cardio calculator, you can overcome all of the difficulties with exercise secret codes. Furthermore, you can combine all of the techniques to create a personalized training plan that works wonders for you.


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