The Advantages of Low-Intensity Zone 2 Cardio for Health and Fitness
If you’re looking to boost your fitness performance, Zone 2 cardio training might just be your secret weapon. This form of low-intensity exercise can significantly increase your endurance and even make you faster, according to health experts. Exercise science expert and triathlete Dr. Morgan Busko recommends that around 80% of your runs should maintain an easy pace where conservation is possible.
Working Smarter: Understanding Your Heart Rate Zones
Low-intensity training can improve your fitness performance without overexertion. To get the most out of this type of training, it’s crucial to understand your maximum heart rate and the corresponding heart rate zones. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For instance, a 30-year-old would have an estimated max heart rate of 190. Your heart rate zones can then be estimated as follows: Zone 1 for light exercise is about 50-60% of max heart rate, Zone 2 for building aerobic endurance is 60-70%, Zone 3 for moderate pace is 70-80%, Zone 4 for high-intensity training is 80-90%, and Zone 5 for near all-out effort is 90-100%. You can monitor these zones using wearable fitness technology like a smartwatch.
How Zone 2 Training Builds Aerobic Endurance
Zone 2 cardio significantly contributes to boosting your endurance and overall cardio fitness by enhancing your muscle tissue’s power output and training your body to burn fat for fuel rather than carbs. As a result, your body can handle more intense activity for longer periods before tapping into its glucose reserves. This training technique known as polarized training suggests most of your runs should be at 60-70% of your max heart rate. This, according to Busko, is where you can easily converse without becoming breathless.
Zone 2 Training: Beneficial for Other Exercise Routines
Incorporating Zone 2 training into various exercise routines can be advantageous, especially if you’re also engaged in activities like CrossFit or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Following the 80% low intensity, 20% high intensity guideline can help you balance your endurance building while minimizing the risk of overtraining.
Rest Days: Essential for Maximum Benefits
Remember, feeling exhausted or sore could be a sign you’re overexerting yourself and need to take it down a notch. Even with the incorporation of more low-intensity workouts, rest and active recovery days are still essential. Busko recommends a day off from any exercise once a week, with activities like swimming, light biking, or yoga ideal for active recovery days.
Beginners: Focus On Enjoying Your Runs
If you’re new to running or other aerobic exercises, there’s no need to stress about heart rate zones or metrics. The essential thing is to find enjoyment in your running routine. Run at a pace that feels right for you and take time to appreciate the experience. As Busko says, “Giving people too many things to think about is kind of taking away from whether you’re enjoying the run.”