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coach jonathan bischof paddle boarding

Is Heart Rate Zone Training the Missing Link?

Many devices in our daily life show health data, but do you use heart rate data as THE tool for health and performance perspectives? It’s astounding the difference it can make when used correctly. From professional paddle athlete April Zilg to world renowned PHD and former Tour de France athlete Inigo San Millan, we all utilize Heart rate training for very effective outcomes.

I constantly see the sup community showing their training stats on facebook and instagram being stoked with their heart rate bouncing around in all five zones! First of all bravo for everyone exercising, but could easier and better results be achieved by training at lower levels of perceived exertions? The answer is scientifically and unequivocally yes.

Before we fully dig in, it’d be wise to clearly define Heart Rate Zone training. Polar brand of monitors defines it simply as:

"We all have a personal resting heart rate or ‘a minimum heart rate’, and a maximum heart rate. And between these values are different HR zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit. There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones calculation. One simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate…"
heart rate zones polar watches

See below some positive recommendations and common errors for embarking on heart rate zone training.

  1. Whatever fitness watch or monitor you use, I recommend a blue tooth chest strap paired to your device verses the wrist capture for improved accuracy.
  2. Training to build a superior aerobic base requires you to be in Zone 2 exclusively during the base building period. This zone is where the magic happens!
    1. Your heart and the vascular system develops to pump at a lower BPM. This will enable you to train at a higher level of exertion with a lower rate. You will start to see noticeable results after about 3 months and 6-12 months later you will be invincible.
    2. More capillaries will be built and your hearts structure and left ventricle stroke volume and cardiac output will improve. (Source:
    3. More mitochondria get built which are the powerhouse of cells that play a critical role in metabolic energy development.
    4. Training hard most of the time can wear out your skeletal, muscles, ligaments, tendons and your nervous system.
  3. Training at Zone 2 for 60-70% of your time and Zones 4 and 5 for 20% of your time is very effective and what we follow and prescribe for most sports and fitness enthusiasts.
  4. Training in Zone 3 is called by most PHDs Science professionals the gray or garbage zone, it just wears you out and gets you stuck in a range that doesn’t have enough benefit. It’s not low enough or high enough!
  5. What your heart rate is at 4-5-6 miles per hour tells me way more about your efficiency and technique.
  6. When someone sends me a picture of their watch or monitor data showing the following workout for a 75 minute session, I clearly see they don’t get it and need my coaching help.
    Zone 1 - Zero time
    Zone 2 - 10 minutes
    Zone 3 - 40 minutes
    Zone 4 - 5 minutes
    Zone 5 - 20 minutes

So let's wrap this all up with some key takeaways.

  1. Learn to work slower to go faster.
  2. Training easier and kinder to oneself does not mean you are meek and weak.
  3. Once you have retrained your aerobic system to function more efficiently, you will be blown away at your results and how you feel and look.
  4. I am not saying you shouldn't train in the anaerobic energy systems. This is extremely important and needed, but in measured smaller doses.
  5. If you train with a group or others, this elite performance training will be hard to do because of others! What I mean by the preceding sentence people always like to hammer and try to get ahead of you and everyone operates at a different fitness level. If you must train in groups, try and train with people at a similar athletic level to you for optimal results.

I hope you liked this perspective and in closing I want to share with you some of my results. Since I embarked with this form of training at 67 years old, the following has happened for me.

    1. Eliminated several pounds of wasteful, visceral fat from my body.
    2. I can hike, walk and paddle at a much lower BPM and cover more distance in a short period of time.
    3. My resting heart rate has dropped significantly. If anyone has questions, feel free reach out.

If anyone has questions, feel free reach out with a phone call, text, or an email.

coach jonathan bischof paddle boarding
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