Use this simple calculator to find out what your heart rate should be when you’re cycling to stay within your target exercise intensity.

Heart Rate Zone Calculator

Your Cycling Heart Rate Zones

Zone 1 (50-60%): BPM

Zone 2 (60-70%): BPM

Zone 3 (70-80%): BPM

Zone 4 (80-90%): BPM

Zone 5 (90-100%): BPM

Introduction to Heart Rate Training

Heart rate training involves keeping track of how fast your heart is beating while you exercise. It’s a method used by both fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes to make sure they are training within the right intensity levels to meet their fitness goals.

The main goal of using heart rate training is to improve how efficiently your heart works, helping you increase stamina, burn fat more effectively, and manage your exercise routines better.

By tailoring your workouts based on how intensely your heart is working, you can make sure you’re not just working hard, but also working smart.

Understanding Maximum Heart Rate

Your maximum heart rate is the highest number of times your heart can beat in a minute during extreme physical exertion. It’s a useful number to know because it helps set the upper limit for your heart rate training.

A simple way to approximate your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 35 years old, your estimated maximum heart rate would be 185 beats per minute (220 – 35 = 185). This is a straightforward way to get a rough idea, but remember, it’s just an estimate.

Factors like your fitness level, health status, and even the temperature can affect your actual maximum heart rate. For the most accurate measurement, it might be a good idea to perform a max heart rate test under professional supervision, especially if you’re starting a new fitness program or have health concerns.

Explanation of Heart Rate Zones for Cycling

heart rate zone calculator

Heart rate zones are ranges representing different levels of exercise intensity. For cyclists, understanding and using these zones can greatly enhance both training efficiency and performance. Here’s a breakdown of the typical zones used in cycling:

  • Zone 1 (50-60% Max HR): Also known as the recovery zone. Cycling in this zone feels easy and is great for warm-ups, cool-downs, or recovery rides. It helps build endurance and allows the body to recover from more intense sessions.

  • Zone 2 (60-70% Max HR): This is the endurance zone where you can sustain effort for long rides. It improves your general aerobic capacity and teaches your body to use fat as a fuel source more effectively.

  • Zone 3 (70-80% Max HR): Known as the tempo zone, this range challenges your cardiovascular system to improve your muscle efficiency. It’s the pace you might hold during a longer race where you can speak in short sentences.

  • Zone 4 (80-90% Max HR): The threshold zone, where you are pushing hard but can sustain the effort. This is typically the intensity for shorter, more intense events like time trials. Training here increases your ability to tolerate lactic acid in your muscles.

  • Zone 5 (90-100% Max HR): The anaerobic zone. These are very hard efforts for short bursts, improving speed and power. This zone is for intervals and sprints, where talking is out of the question due to the effort.

How to Use Heart Rate Zones in Training for Cycling

Using heart rate zones effectively can transform your cycling training from random rides into structured, purpose-driven workouts. Here’s how to incorporate them:

  1. Build a Foundation with Lower Zones: Start by spending most of your training time in Zones 1 and 2. These rides should make up the bulk of your training to build aerobic fitness and endurance without excessive fatigue.

  2. Incorporate Tempo Rides: Regular rides in Zone 3 help develop your cruising speed, a pace you might use in a race to stay ahead of competitors. These sessions should be challenging but manageable for extended periods.

  3. Integrate Intervals in Higher Zones: As your fitness improves, start adding intervals in Zones 4 and 5. Begin with shorter intervals at high intensity and gradually increase the duration as you adapt. These are critical for improving your performance in races and hard climbs.

  4. Plan Recovery Days: Cycling in Zone 1 on recovery days helps your muscles to heal and your body to adapt to the stresses from higher zones. This is crucial to prevent overtraining and to continue making progress.

  5. Monitor and Adjust: Use a heart rate monitor to track your zones during rides. Over time, as your fitness level changes, your heart rate response will too, requiring adjustments to your zones based on updated max heart rate tests or how you feel during rides.

By understanding and utilizing these heart rate zones, cyclists can tailor their training for specific fitness goals, race preparations, and overall improvements in cycling performance. This approach ensures every ride has a purpose, making training both efficient and rewarding.

Tools and Tips for Monitoring Heart Rate

heart rate zone

To effectively utilize heart rate zones in cycling, you need accurate and reliable data. Here are some tools and tips for monitoring your heart rate:

  • Heart Rate Monitors: Choose a heart rate monitor that suits your needs. Chest straps are known for their accuracy and responsiveness, making them a favorite among serious cyclists. Wrist-based monitors are more convenient and comfortable, though they might lag slightly in accuracy and speed of data display.

  • Cycling Computers and Smartwatches: Many cycling computers and smartwatches come with built-in heart rate monitors and GPS, which can track your heart rate along with other data like speed, distance, and route.

  • Smartphone Apps: Various apps can pair with your heart rate monitor and provide real-time data and analytics. Make sure your phone is securely mounted on your bike if you choose to use it as your primary display.

  • Calibration and Maintenance: Regularly check the accuracy of your heart rate monitor. Keep the sensors clean and replace batteries or straps as needed to ensure consistent performance.


  • Regularly update your maximum heart rate value in your monitoring tools to reflect your current fitness level, especially if you notice significant improvements or changes in your ability to handle intense workouts.

Common Questions and Myths about Heart Rate Training


  1. How often should I test my maximum heart rate?
    • Re-testing every few months or after a noticeable change in fitness can keep your training zones accurate.

  2. Can I use heart rate zones for all types of cycling?
    • Yes, heart rate zones are useful across different cycling disciplines, including road biking, mountain biking, and indoor cycling.


  • “A higher heart rate guarantees a more effective workout.”
    • Not necessarily. Training exclusively at high heart rates can lead to burnout and overtraining. Balance across zones is key.

  • “Heart rate zones are the same for everyone.”
    • Heart rate zones vary significantly among individuals due to differences in age, fitness level, and genetic factors.

Safety Tips

When using heart rate training for cycling, safety should always be a priority. Here are some important safety tips:

  • Listen to Your Body: While heart rate numbers are a great guide, they’re not the only indicator of your workout’s intensity. If you feel overly fatigued, dizzy, or unwell, it’s crucial to stop and rest, regardless of what your heart rate monitor says.

  • Avoid Overtraining: Consistently high heart rates, especially near your maximum, can strain your heart and body. Make sure to include lower intensity and rest days in your training schedule to allow for recovery.

  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Your heart rate can be influenced by dehydration and lack of nutrients. Keep hydrated and eat well to support your training efforts.

Implementing these practices will help ensure that your heart rate training is both effective and safe, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of cycling while minimizing risks.