What is Zone 2 Training?

You may or may not have seen media lately that says to get your Zone 2 training in. And you may be asking yourself – what in the absolute heck is that?
I’m not going to lie – I was confused at first too because there is SO much in this industry and people like to change names of things to “rebrand” and make it cool again. It can be really confusing. Especially when you still don’t know the difference between a Romanian deadlift and a stiff leg deadlift.

So what is Zone 2 training? Well – it’s cardio training. And pretty accessible cardio training at that. It might take a few calculations to really understand it for your specific’s, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

First – lets look at the benefits of Zone 2 training.

As a whole – It helps reduce your risk of disease, regulates blood sugar and appetite, helps maintain mobility, helps to improve overall health and mood, as well as longevity.

It improves aerobic base – meaning, it increases your capacity to do physical work. I say it all the time in class – build a stronger base to help you push more weight. This is the same premise. You’re building your base in order to more efficiently be able to perform at peak levels (like hiking up a mountain, sprinting, jogging and more). Zone 2 training also helps you to recover more quickly. The quicker you’re able to recover and return your heart rate to resting, the healthier your heart!

It’s a giver, not a taker 😉 – There is such a thing as OVER TRAINING. Yes – I said it. You can do too much. But this is more linked to things like heavy weight lifting. Like Crossfit, or power lifting, or even classes like Orange Theory. They require a lot of energy. Thus you actually make gains when you REST. But with Zone 2 training – it’s low intensity. So yes, it requires fuel. But it’s more like a Toyota Camry vs. a Hummer. It’s more fuel efficient as it were. AND it can actually help facilitate recovery. So it’s not a bad idea to get a walk in after a brutal leg day. It helps clear all those by-products you make with lifting weights.

It boosts mitochondrial health – Now you might be thinking to yourself – “Okay, Ashley has REALLY lost it now”. And to a point, yes. Yes I have. But not with this one! If you remember anything about biology it’s probably that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. This extends past the microscopic level of cells and to your overall health. The higher your mitochondrial numbers and function – the better your health as a whole will be. All exercises help here – but Zone 2 training is the…. powerhouse 😉

So we’ve covered what Zone 2 training can do for you. Now let’s dive into HOW you do it.
Zone 2 is between 60-70% of your max heart rate.
Here’s the calculation, which I pulled from here

  1. HRmax = 220 – age (which is reported to be simpler to use)
  2. HRmax = 206.9 – (0.67 x age) (reported to be more accurate)

    You can use either one of them – it’s just an estimate anyway. If you don’t have a watch that tells you your heart rate, or you’re just not a numbers person here are some other ways you can tell if you’re likely in Zone 2

    🌿 You’re moving your body – and it requires effort. But you can do that thing for an extended period of time
    🌿 You can breath through your nose
    🌿 You can talk – but probably won’t be belting Celine Dion songs
    🌿 You can pay attention to a conversation, podcast or movie.

Activities that would likely you put you in Zone 2 include:
– Cycling
– Hiking – getting outside also helps your mood and mental health 🌲
– Brisk walking
– Pulling your fur baby in a wagon
– Elliptical – at a slower pace
– Rowing Machine – at a slower pace

Now – how much Zone 2 training should you be getting in daily or each week. That’s obviously going to depend on YOU and your life. Ideally – I love to see people get at least 20-30 minutes a day. But that’s not always realistic. The CDC recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic training (AKA Zone 2 training). You can dole that out however you like and how it works best for your schedule. Maybe that is 20 minutes a day. Maybe it’s 30 minutes for 5 days. Maybe it’s 3 50 minutes stints. Or even 10 minutes 3 x daily so that it’s even smaller chunks. Here’s another blog I wrote about getting steps in that you can use to modify here too –> Click me

The best thing about this, is that there is no ONE correct way. There’s flexibility. As there should be with most everything.

Okay! So we’ve gone over how Zone 2 training helps you, how to get there, and how much to get in. Now all that’s left is for you to actually go out and do the things. It might not be perfect at first. But that’s okay! Just keep trying.