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A Heart Pumping Triathlon Workout

How to use a Heart Rate Monitor – Know your zones.

In order to use heart rate training, you’ll have to have a couple things in place: you have to have a monitor (obviously), and then you have to know what kind of numbers to shoot for. 

We’ll go with easy numbers for starters, just to give you an idea of a base to start with. And maybe you already know these. They are resting HR, maximum HR, and heart rate reserve (which is simple the range between max and resting).

Don’t become too dependent or entrapped by using technology and data as a tool for your triathlon training. Remember to listen to your body, because this feedback is equally if not more important. 

You can find your Max HR by checking it during a workout. All you have to do is run two miles as fast as you can (warm up first, obviously) and measure your Max HR from the workout. 

Or use the 220 minus age equation: 220 – 32 = 188 for me. Experts say that it’s not as accurate as possible for everyone, but it at least puts you in a ballpark zone to get started. And if you’re fit and healthy, that’s good enough for now. 

Resting HR is easy to find. They say to take the reading as soon as you wake up in the morning, but who can remember to do that? And if your alarm clock is as horrible as mine, you’ll wake up with your heart racing anyway. Simply lie down and rest for a few minutes and take it then. Once again, close enough.

Jot down your zones somewhere so you can refer back to them as needed. Soon enough, you’ll get a good feel for where you’re at and know what zone you’re in give or take a few BPM’s. 

Now that you have that info, go to has a nifty heart rate zone calculator here.

Simple Heart Rate Workout – For Triathlon Speed

A Heart Pumping Triathlon Workout | TwoTri.comYou, me, and the guy next door, we all want to get faster and beat our PR’s, right? Well, unfortunately for all of us, personal bests don’t come without some work. But don’t worry, that work does not have to become a dirty chore.

In fact, it can be quite interesting – and even fun – with the use of a heart rate monitor and a simple interval-style workout. Plus, when you’re focused on monitoring your heart rate, your mind will be taken off the discomfort of harder efforts. 

Have you ever seen a workout where it says something like Z4 x 2 min every 10 min and wondered what exactly that means? Z stands for a heart rate zone and “4” is the percentage of maximum heart rate. 

So first we’ll need a way of measuring and monitoring heart rate, then and we need is to figure out what zone goes where. Lucky for you, we’re giving away an awesome heart rate monitor that pairs with over 50 fitness apps on your smart phone!

Click here to enter the giveaway… it ends tomorrow!

Zone Breakdown (remember that these will need adjustment for 1) you personally, and 2) as your fitness increases – yeah, baby!): 

  • Zone 1: 50-60% of Max – very light, if you do recovery workouts, here’s where you want to be.
  • Zone 2: 60-70% of Max – here’s your long, slow run zone.
  • Zone 3: 70-80% of Max – Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, that’s right, Tempo Pace!
  • Zone 4: 80-90% of Max – When you’re grinding up a gnarly hill. Not sustainable forever.
  • Zone 5: 90-100% of Max – Holy crap, I’m gonna pass out!

Here’s a snazzy zone calculator to help you own your zones

Here’s the heart rate workout, and you can use it for bike or run: 

Keep in mind that pushing this tempo zone will help make you faster. So you know right now that your efforts will be rewarded. 

A Heart Pumping Triathlon Workout |

1. Warmup well, as always. 5-10 minutes is usually good.

2. Now we’re shooting for the upper end of Z3 and maybe just peeking into Z4 and holding it there for 5 minutes. Do this by either running faster or adding more resistance to your bike trainer.

You’ll find that it’s a hard pace, where you’ll be huffing and puffing, but not impossible to maintain. And your legs shouldn’t be burning too bad for the first few sets.

3. Now fall back into the Zone 2 to catch your breath and recovery.

4. Repeat 5 minutes in Z3/Z4 for hard efforts and 2 minutes in Z2 for recovery for the duration of your workout.

5. Cool down and analyze your HR zonage – I just made that word up.

Posted by Trainer +Davey Anderson 

About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →