How To Use Peloton Heart Rate Zones For Weight Loss


Today I want to unpack everything there is to know about the peloton heart rate zone training, and most importantly, how to use it based on your fitness goals.

As a whole, the peloton heart rate zones serve as a guide to determine the intensity of the exercise and help you to get the most out of your workouts. Heart rate zone training helps to know when to increase or decrease the intensity, based on your personal goals.

Let’s dig in.

What Are Peloton Heart Rate Zones?

As a whole, the peloton heart rate zones (in short HR zones) provide you real-time feedback and allow you to monitor the intensity level of the exercise you’re training. It works like an exercise prescription where you can choose your effort level based on your fitness goals.

What should my heart rate zones be? As a whole, your heart rate zones should match your personal goals. For example, if your goal is to improve your peloton FTP score and have a higher power output, your workouts should be done in the higher zones using interval training.

On the other hand, if your goal is to improve your endurance and be able to ride for longer, your desired heart rate zones should be lower.

How to know your heart rate zones? Overall, to know your heart rate zones you need to wear a heart rate monitor either strapped around your chest or worn on the arm/wrist. The peloton will automatically transmit the signal from the HRM into the bike and display your heart rate zones.

How Does Peloton Heart Rate Zone Training Work?

In general, the peloton heart rate zones work by providing information about the intensity of your current training session in the form of strive score that can be monitored on the peloton rides, as well as during other off-bike classes.

NOTE: I won’t cover here details about the peloton strive score and how it works. I’ve already covered that in the “peloton strive score” article, which I recommend your read.

Here’s how it works.

One way to understand and modify workout difficulty level (how long and how hard to train) is by using the tried and tested method called the FITT principle.

The acronym FITT stands for:

  • Frequency – Frequency refers to how many peloton classes per week you take.
  • Intensity – Intensity refers to class difficulty level, which can be found with all peloton workouts in the class description.
  • Time – Time means the duration of the class. The majority of peloton classes range between 20 to 60 minutes.
  • Type of exercise – The type of workout is usually divided by cardio, strength, or flexibility.

Studies have shown that “of these principles, the intensity may play a disproportionate role in driving improvement in cardiorespiratory (VO2) response to exercise training” (Neufer, 1989).

This just goes to show that exercise intensity has the biggest impact on your goals.

Using peloton heart rate zones as a guide allows you to monitor the intensity of every workout. Training at suboptimal intensity can limit your progress while training above your optimal levels can lead to overtraining, slower recovery, and increased injury risk.

Is peloton heart rate zone training effective? In general, the peloton heart rate zone training is effective because it helps to navigate your workout intensity, based on your training program. The goal of any exercise program, whether for a competitive athlete or a recreational athlete, is to maximize its effectiveness (e.g. weight loss).

Are Peloton Heart Rate Zones Accurate?

As a whole, the peloton heart rate zones are accurate because there is a strong correlation between elevated heart rate and the actual exercise intensity. Heart rate zone training is been widely adopted in a variety of sports and endurance events as a viable way to track performance.

Of course, using your heart rate as a guide has some limitations because several things can influence your heart rate.

  • Heat – Training in a humid or hot environment can increase resting heart rate.
  • Hydration – Hypohydration (also called dehydration) can increase heart rate by decreasing blood volume.
  • Sleep quality – Poor sleep and abrupt awakenings can lead to an increase in heart rate.
  • Caffeine – Excess amounts of caffeine can increase adrenaline levels, which can have an impact on your resting heart rate.

In other words, this method is the most accurate (and practical) but is not perfect. One of the biggest factors that determine heart rate zones accuracy is the quality and type of heart rate monitor.

You can learn more about “peloton heart rate monitor” and how it compares with other popular devices in my article here.

Do heart rate zones change? Peloton heart rate zones do not change because they have set ranges. However, regular exercising leads to positive training adaptations like lowering resting heart rate, which will result in the body getting more efficient at training in the same zones.

How Much Time Should I Spend In Each Heart Rate Zone?

In general, the time spent in each peloton heart rate zone will depend on the class type and duration. Most of the endurance rides are performed in zone 2 and 3, where most of the interval rides include a combination of all heart rate zones.

Here is the list of the peloton heart rate zones together with the duration, recommended by Andrew R. Coggan, Ph.D.

Peloton Heart Rate ZonesDuration
Zone 1Up to 1 hour
Zone 2Up to 3 hours
Zone 3Up to 90 minutes
Zone 43 to 8 minutes intervals
Zone 510 seconds sprints
Peloton Heart Zones Duration

How Do You Use Peloton Heart Rate Zones?

In general, you can use peloton heart rate zones as a guide to help you choose the classes, based on your personal goals. Each of these zones comes with different benefits like fat loss, improved VO2max, or better recovery.

What I like about the peloton heart rate zone training is it helps you to do harder work, easier.

For example, the peloton heart rate zone 2 with the intensity reaching 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This is a moderate and comfortable zone that comes with a variety of benefits like improved recovery and fat oxidation.

I always like to recommend this heart rate zone for beginners, as well as for trained people.

  • For beginners – This is the most efficient effort level where people can improve their aerobic capacity, without risking overtraining and injury.
  • For trained athletes – This is also good for trained individuals who need to balance their high-intensity days with recovery days.
  • For weight loss – Peloton heart rate zone 2 and 3 are the most effective for weight loss (more on that later).

You know you’re at the peloton heart rate zone 2 when your breathing rate is high, however, you still can manage to maintain a conversation.

The peloton heart rate zone 3 (also called aerobic zone) is the intensity level where the body reaches 70-80% maximum heart rate. This workout intensity can be usually maintained for multiple hours, depending on your fitness level.

The peloton heart rate zone 4 (which is also called the Threshold zone) refers to workout intensity where you can maintain your effort level at 80-90% maximum heart rate.

Here is the good news.

I went through most of the peloton runs and rides, and divided them into four categories, based on the goals like weight loss, cardio, power, and recovery.

Peloton Heart Rate Zone For Weight Loss

As a whole, the best peloton heart rate zones that burn the most fat are zone 2 and 3 where your intensity remains at 60 to 80% of maximum heart rate. These zones are also referred to as aerobic because the body utilizes fat as the energy source the most efficiently.

The aerobic zone is also referred to as the “fat-burning” zone. Studies have shown that “maximal fat oxidation occurs during the training at the effort between 60.2% and 80.0% of the maximal heart rate” (Carey, 2009).

The easiest way to assess if you’re in the fat-burning zone or not is by checking your breathing rate. The peloton heart rate zones 2 and 3 aren’t strenuous and you should be able to maintain your breathing rate to maintain a conversation.

Do higher heart rate zones burn more fat? In general, the higher heart rate zones do not burn more fat than lower zones because the highest zones are anaerobic in nature, which means most of the energy comes from the utilization of carbohydrates, not fat.

Of course, you will burn more calories in the higher heart rate zones, but these calories won’t be coming from fat.

Here is the list of peloton classes with the intensity that matches the heart rate zone 2 and 3.

Peloton heart rates zone weight loss classes
Peloton TreadPower Walk
Walk + Run
Hike
Endurance Runs
Peloton BikeLow Impact Ride
Power Zone Endurance Ride
Climb Ride
Peloton heart rate zone 2 and 3 classes

NOTE: Keep in mind that some of the classes overlap with each other because you can improve your cardio fitness and optimize fat burning while training at the same heart rate zone.

According to Dr. Daniel G Carey’s research from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota “training for fat oxidation and training for aerobic fitness are not mutually exclusive and may be accomplished with the same training program

Peloton Heart Rate Zone For Cardio

As a whole, the best peloton heart rate zones for cardiorespiratory benefits are 3 and 4 where your intensity remains at the 70 to 90% of maximum heart rate. These zones are also referred to as cardio or threshold zone because the body improves the ability to eliminate lactate from the blood, as well as to burn more glycogen as an energy source.

This is also called the OBLA (onset of blood lactate accumulation) threshold where the blood lactate concentration exceeds 4 mmol/l, which means the body produces more lactate than it can eliminate.

Keep in mind that this threshold is not recommended for beginners because untrained individuals are more susceptible to oxidative damage and muscle soreness.

See below.

In the graph above you can see the chart from Spanidis et al. 2018 that illustrates the difference in DOMS levels and muscle soreness between beginners and trained people.

As you can see, people who are just getting started with peloton workouts should avoid training at the heart rate zone 4 and above because it takes significantly more time to recuperate.

Can you train if your body is sore? As a whole, you can train if your body is sore. However, please remember that DOMS and muscle soreness can reduce exercise performance, impair muscle strength, and add additional psychological discomfort.

Of course, regular exercise induces training adaptations (your body is getting used to hard work) and after several weeks it gets more efficient to handle muscle soreness and DOMS.

Here are some of the benefits that happen if you train in peloton heart rate zone 3.

  • Increased muscle glycogen storage – This is the ability to store more carbohydrates in the muscles that then can be used for energy.
  • Increased muscle mitochondrial enzymes – Higher mitochondrial enzyme activity means your muscles have a higher respiratory capacity and become more efficient at training for longer distances.
  • Increased VO2max – The VO2max (also called maximal oxygen consumption) is the optimum rate at which the body (muscles, heart, and lunges) uses the oxygen during a workout.

Here is the list of peloton classes with the intensity that matches the heart rate zone 3 and 4.

Peloton heart rates zone cardio classes
Peloton TreadEndurance Run
HRZ Endurance Run
Progressive Run
Tempo Run
Hills Run
Peloton BikePower Zone Ride
HRZ Threshold Ride
HIIT and Hills Ride
Peloton heart rate zone 3 and 4 classes

What I love about the peloton heart rate zone 3 training is you can do it on the daily basis, as long as the duration is not excessive and adequate intake of dietary carbohydrates is met.

Peloton Heart Rate Zone For Power Output

The best peloton heart rate zones for higher FTP score and better power output 4 and 5 where your intensity remains at the 80 to 95% of maximum heart rate. This usually happens during very short but intense intervals where the body places greater stress on the anaerobic rather than aerobic system.

These zones are also referred to as anaerobic because they increase the oxygen debt due to their intensity level.

When entering into the peloton heart rate zone 5 you will usually feel significant fatigue in the muscles, as well as elevated breathing rate to the point where the conversation is impossible to maintain.

How long should you be in Zone 5? Recent studies have shown that “for individuals who regularly exercise, 4% to 9% total training time above 90% maximum HR is the ideal duration to maximize fitness and minimize symptoms related to overreaching” (Gottschall et al. 2020).

See below.

As you can see, even if your primary goal is to improve speed and power, the amount of time spend in the peloton heart rate zones 5 should be limited.

Here are some of the physiological and performance adaptations that occur once you reach the peloton heart rate zone 5.

  • Increased anaerobic capacity – This is also known as lactate tolerance, which means your body gets more efficient at eliminating excess lactate from the blood, therefore, you can train at a higher intensity for longer.
  • Increased stroke volume – Higher stroke volume means the heart is getting stronger and more efficient in pumping blood, which leads to increased work output and performance.
  • Increased neuromuscular power – Higher neuromuscular power means the ability to recruit more muscle fibers to complete the task (e.g. lift a heavier weight or jump higher). In other words, you become stronger, faster, and more powerful.

Also, please remember that training in the heart rate zone 5 should not be done more than 1-2 times per week because the body requires significantly more time to recover.

Here is the list of peloton classes with the intensity that matches the heart rate zone 4 and 5.

Peloton heart rates zone power output classes
Peloton TreadHIIT Run
Interval Run
HIIT and Hills Run
Tabata Run
HRZ Power Run
Peloton BikeIntervals Ride
HIIT Ride
Tabata Ride
Peloton heart rate zone 4 and 5 classes

Which heart rate zone is best for running? In general, the best peloton heart rate zone for running will depend on your training program. For example, doing sprints and hill runs will elevate your heart rate higher and put you in the higher zones, compared to long-distance endurance run.

How To Calculate Peloton Heart Rate Zones

The peloton heart rate zones are calculated based on the percentage of your maximum heart rate that is measured during your workouts with a heart rate monitor using the general guideline formula 220 – age.

For example, a 40-year old person who rides the bike at the intensity of 130 beats per minute will be at the heart rate zone 3.

The peloton bike will automatically assign your heart rate zone based on the readings from your heart rate monitor. This means you don’t need to make any calculation, only make sure you’ve entered the accurate data into your peloton profile.

Here are the five peloton heart rate zones.

Peloton Heart Rate ZonesName% of MHR
Zone 1Warm Upup to 65%
Zone 2Endurance65-75%
Zone 3Power75-85%
Zone 4Threshold85-95%
Zone 5Max Capacity95%+
Peloton Heart Rate Zones Chart

Conclusion

As you can see, using peloton heart rate zones as a guide allows you to match your intensity with your personal goals.

Zones 4 and 5 are typically anaerobic in nature, which creates oxygen debt and utilizes mostly carbohydrates for the fuel.

On the other hand, zones 2 and 3 are more aerobic, which is better for long-distance training and fat utilization.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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