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Zone 2 Training: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Do you want to take your fitness level to the next level without completely exhausting yourself? Then Zone 2 training is just right for you!

The training method is not only super effective, but also a relaxed way to improve your endurance, burn fat and feel fitter.

In this article, we'll tell you exactly what Zone 2 training is all about and why you should do it regularly.

What is Zone 2 training anyway?

Athlete training on a rower

Let's explain it very simply: Your heart has different frequency ranges, which are divided into zones. Zone 2 is one of these and is around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

This means that you can still have a relaxed conversation while exercising in this zone. It's not so strenuous that you get out of breath, but also not so relaxed as if you were lying on the couch.

Zone 2 training is important because it helps you improve your aerobic endurance. This means your body gets better at using oxygen, which helps you last longer, whether you're running, cycling or swimming.

Your body also burns fat in this zone, which is perfect if you want to lose a few kilos.

Why should I train in zone 2?

Woman wandering in the desert

You might be asking yourself: "What do I get out of zone 2 training?" Actually a lot!

Improvement in aerobic endurance

Imagine being able to run, cycle or swim for longer without immediately running out of breath. Sounds good, doesn't it? That's exactly what you achieve with Zone 2 training. Your body becomes more efficient at using oxygen and providing energy, which helps you to keep going during longer activities.

Fat burning and weight management

Another benefit of Zone 2 training is that your body mainly burns fat in this zone. This means that you burn calories effectively with moderate effort, even drawing on your fat reserves.

Promotion of general health

As well as improving your endurance and burning fat, Zone 2 training also has positive effects on your general health. It strengthens your cardiovascular system and lowers your blood pressure. It also helps to reduce stress levels and promote mental health.

Low risk of injury

As zone 2 training is not as intense, the risk of injury is significantly lower than with high-intensity training. You put less strain on your joints and muscles, which is particularly important if you are a beginner or want to get back into training after a long break.

How do I determine my Zone 2 heart rate?

Woman measuring her pulse with a watch

Okay, now you know that Zone 2 training is great and has many benefits. But how do you find out where your zone 2 is?

  1. Calculate your maximum heart rate: First of all, you need to find out your maximum heart rate. This is the highest value your heart can reach at maximum effort. A simple rule of thumb for this is the formula: 220 minus your age. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be around 190 beats per minute.

  2. Find the range for your zone 2: Now that you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate the range for your zone 2. This is approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Here is an example: Your maximum heart rate (MHR) is 190. 60% of this is 114 beats per minute; 70% is 133 beats per minute. So your zone 2 heart rate is somewhere between 114 and 133 beats per minute.

  3. Use a heart rate monitor: To make sure you're exercising in your zone 2, it's best to use a heart rate monitor or fitness watch. These devices show you your heart rate in real time so you know exactly whether you are in the right zone. If you don't have a heart rate monitor, you can also simply do the 'talk test': If you can still chat easily with your training partner, you're probably in zone 2.

It's also a good idea to check your Zone 2 heart rate regularly. The fitter you get, the more efficiently your heart works and the more your zone 2 heart rate can change.

How long should my Zone 2 workout last?

Man on a bicycle in nature

The key to effective Zone 2 training is the combination of long duration and low intensity. You don't have to train super hard to make progress. In fact, it can be even better if you take it easy and go for longer.

Step by step to longer sessions

If you're just starting out with Zone 2 training, start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration.

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Beginners: If you are new to training or have had a longer break, start with 20-30 minutes. This is enough to get your body used to the strain without overstraining it.

  • Advanced: After a few weeks, you can slowly increase the duration. Try to get to 45-60 minutes. This will give your body enough time to stay in zone 2 and reap the benefits.

  • Experienced athletes: If you are already good at training, you can extend your sessions to 1.5 to 2 hours. This may sound like a lot, but it doesn't feel as strenuous in zone 2.

The right frequency

How often should you train in zone 2? Again, there are no hard and fast rules, but a few guidelines can help you:

  • 2-3 times a week: this is a good start and is enough to see initial improvements.

  • 3-5 times a week: If you have more time and want to improve your endurance faster, you can train more often. But make sure you give your body enough time to recover.

What is a good zone 2 workout?

Man stretching before running

Running, swimming or the rowing machine? Here are a few tips and ideas on how to optimize your training.

Running in zone 2

Running is one of the easiest and most popular methods for zone 2 training. Here's the best way to do it:

  • Leisurely pace: run at a pace where you can still have a relaxed conversation. No fast panting, just relaxed chatting.

  • Regular sessions: Try to run 2-3 times a week. Start with 20-30 minutes and slowly increase the duration.

  • Variety: Vary your routes. Run in the park, in the forest or through the city. This keeps it exciting and motivating.

Cycling in zone 2

Cycling is great for zone 2 training because you can easily adjust your pace and enjoy beautiful routes.

  • Consistent pace: Find a pace at which you still feel comfortable and don't work up too much of a sweat.

  • Longer rides: Plan regular bike rides that last 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

  • Group rides: Grab a few friends and go on a ride together. It's fun and motivating.

Swimming in zone 2

Swimming is perfect for training your entire body without putting strain on your joints:

  • Steady rhythm: swim at a leisurely pace where you can still breathe easily. You should not exhaust yourself completely.

  • Alternate swimming styles: Vary between breaststroke, backstroke and crawl. This keeps it varied.

  • Regular swimming sessions: Plan a swimming session of 30-45 minutes 2-3 times a week.

Zone 2 on the cross trainer or ergometer

If you prefer to train indoors, cross trainers and ergometers are a good choice:

  • Steady pace: maintain a steady, moderate pace where you can still have a conversation.

  • Interval training: Change the intensity occasionally to add variety to your workout, but stay in zone 2 most of the time.

  • Music or series: Listen to music or watch a series to make the time go by faster.

Your path to better fitness with Zone 2 training

Zone 2 training is a great way to improve your endurance, burn fat and improve your health.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced athlete, regular Zone 2 training will help you achieve your fitness goals without pushing yourself too hard.




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