How to decipher my training zones

Heart Rate Training Zones

Think of it as gears in your car for a 6 speed. The faster you go (the harder you try), the higher the gearing. So:

Level  1 (L1) – 60%

Easy, cruising, doing drills and technique, should be able to talk the whole way through but you should stay warm the whole time.

Level 2 (L2) – 70%

Steady working. This is used for technique or continuous long paddlers. You should be able to talk but you’re puffing a little bit and will feel that you are working the whole time.

Level 3 (L3) – 80%

This is firm work, you’re sitting at what we call threshold effort. You shouldn’t be able to talk at this level, you’ll be puffing quite a bit. Think of this as 5km race pace. If doing shorter efforts you should be able to keep this level going for a whole effort but it would be nice to stop and have a break as you’re working quite hard.

Level 4 (L4) – 90%

This is considered average race pace not max out til you hit the wall but finishing an effort still at average race pace, what you would sit at during your race, not what you go off the line at but what your average pace would be. This should be hurting quite a bit but you should be able to complete each effort staying at this intensity.

Level 5 (L5) – 95-100%

This is max, you should be hitting the wall on these efforts. You’ll be burning trying to get to the end of the effort but will get plenty of rest after each of these efforts.

Level 6 (L6) – 100+%

This is rarely hit in training. As much as people try to go their max out, racing takes you to that next level and L6 is usually only achieved in racing but the idea of it is, this is your absolute max out, you cant possibly go any harder, each stroke is maximal effort, power and intensity.

If you have a heart rate monitor and have never done stress testing or VO2 max testing, don’t worry!

Here is a great article, that makes it simple and easy to understand, not too sciency. So the percentages I have down should be representative to the percentages for your max heart rate. Ideally all aerobic work should be around 70% of your max heart rate (L2). Research tells us you must spend atleast 20 minutes above 70% of your max heart rate to make positive adaptations.

If you want any more good articles that are a bit more indepth, let me know. I do recommend getting your hands on a heart rate monitor, it can be a great training buddy. Rather than worrying about speeds and times, if you are achieving the required heart rate levels then you will be making positive adaptations. It is also a better reflection on how you are going especially when weather and conditions are not ideal.

Happy training!

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