Zone 1 - Rest (Sitting or Standing)
Zone 2 - Easy Activity (walking, flat bicycling, could talk and do it at the same time)
Zone 3 - Harder Activity (Challenge to talk conversationally)
Zone 4 - Difficult Activity (fast jog, uphill or fast biking, could not talk)
Zone 5 - Sprints (all-out effort at maximum speed)
This is the important thing about cardio zones. When you do your aerobic / cardiovascular training, stay in zones 2-4, and most of the time should be spent in zone 3 & 4. This would correlate to 6/7-8 using the Talk Test.
Zone 3 would be your recovery zone, or base level zone which you return to after an interval, where you could talk if you had to but it would be difficult to carry on a conversation. Zone 4 is your interval zone. Technically Zone 5 could be used, but only for about 10 seconds because it is depleting your stored Muscle Creatine and creating maximal exhaustion. Zone 2 could be used too for recovery, but isn’t as challenging and effective as Zone 3 for a base return level.
If you are doing just steady state training, try to stay in Zone 3, but avoid 2 & 4.
A sample interval training workout with the 5 Zones of Cardio:
- Warm up 3 minutes in Zone 2
- 24 minutes of intervals in Zone 3 & 4
- 12, 1 minute intervals in zone 3
- 12, 1 minute intervals in zone 4
- Alternate for 24 minutes
- Cool down 3 minutes in Zone 2
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