Heart Rate Zones-

Hi all,

I had open heart surgery 6 years ago and am using cycling to improve my fitness. I have a Tickr HR monitor and want to learn how to use heart rate to work out please?

I am not sure how best to work out using heart rates, is it a case of alternating between lower zones and higher zones on different days of the week? I have been off Zwift for the summer and am coming back to it for the winter, and during last winter I found I was kind of doing sporadic efforts, every other day or so, but I never felt like I was making progress and would feel quite exhausted a lot of the time. So I want to go for something more structured.

Looking online for advice there seems to be a myriad of conflicting information and techniques, so I thought I would ask on here.

Any advice you could offer would be appreciated.


Hi first of all i presume you have been cleared to make the efforts by a Doctor?, if not seek the advice. I personally do a ramp test to get both my power and Heart rate and starting point. A simple way for basic heartrate is 220 minus your age as a benchmark. Are you using a smart trainer or simple turbo?
I personally do not use heart rate at all but work off power only, I find that it varies so much when i have been on day then night shift and if you are tired. With power it is black and white you either produce it or you do not so I find it a better training tool. Food for thought

Thanks for the reply Paul, I am fine with cycling, the doctors/consultants are happy with me doing cardio, as long as it is steady state, I should have mentioned in my original post, the only thing I am not supposed to do is anything explosive. I have actually gotten quite into climbing on Zwift (even though I have never seen myself as a climber in the real world), because it is a steady input.

I have a Wahoo Kickr and Kickr Climb.

I hear what you are saying on the HR being affected by so many things, but in my position I would rather focus on HR so that I am not pushing myself beyond my limits. I understand I might be a bit limited on Zwift, due to the fact Zwift seems to focus entirely on power.

My main plan was to work out my zones and then stick within them on certain days (so a recovery day, I don’t leave Zone 2, on another day I work between zone 3 and 4 etc). so I wanted an idea of how to structure a week’s training around that kind of plan.


don’t do a ramp test as that is a 1min max effort test and will be potentially dangerous for your heart.

based on what doctors are saying, avoid intervals, avoid racing, & stick to endurance/tempo rides in Z2/Z3 heart rate. probably want to avoid going above 80% of max HR.

Z2 is approx 60-70% of max and Z3 is approx 70-80%

estimate of max HR is 220 - age

training plan is up to you but something like 30-60mins a day (or every other day) alternating between Z3 (“hard day”) and Z2 (“rest day”) probably a good start then just increase duration as you get fitter + ideally throw in a longer ride at the weekend (outdoors even better).

you can make a lot of fitness gains just by riding in Z2/3…! Zone 2 Training for Cyclists: Where Endurance Training Fits in Your Training Plan - TrainerRoad Blog

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Thank you Ben, that is great advice :slight_smile:

The difficulty with heart rate training and using the rule of 220-age is that everyone is different. I usually max out around 165 (resting is about 45) and I’m 41. I don’t tend to see that many people actually adhere to that rule.

With the fact that your finding out what your max HR is, is probably not advisable, I would stick to power zones which should roughly align your heart rate zones anyway.

I’d agree with the advice of Z2/Z3 above but I’m be inclined to stick to power zones rather than HR. You’ll still get a good workout and build fitness.

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i max out at >190 at 34 but then again im a fast-twitch sprinty boi so it’s keeping the HR down that’s the challenge for me :smiley: