Using Fitness Assessments to Determine Heart Rate Zones

You’ve begun the journey of learning about your body, your heart. You’ve made the decision to take control of your fitness level. Congratulations! There is very little as key to a great heart rate training experience as having fully customized, personalized Heart Rate Zones and Pace Zones that fit you. When you have this, things just feel right when you are exercising.

Fitdigits includes multiple types of fitness assessments with a Pro Plus or Star Membership, for all levels of users. These assessments help determine your fitness level, using well accepted research as a base for calculating VO2 Max as a proxy for cardiovascular fitness. We’ve taken proven techniques, combined common sense, and designed assessments that can serve to proxy for the full treadmill-hooked-to-a-mask-and-computer traditional fitness test. Why spend hundreds when you have Fitdigits?!

The Beginner Cardio, Advanced Cardio, and Critical Power 30 minute (CP-30) Cardio assessments can help you determine your personal heart rate and pace zones to properly design your exercise regimen and help you hit your goals.

Ready to begin? Let’s do this!

Starting a Fitness Assessment

All Fitness Assessments require a heart rate monitor paired and connected to run an Assessment. Please note any pausing of the workout / assessment will make it null and void as an assessment, though it will still show up as a workout.

To start your assessment, get yourself and your heart rate monitor ready. Find a nice flat and open place where you can move freely. Open the app then:

Starting a Fitness Assessment

  1. Swipe to the activity type you want to do the fitness assessment in.
  2. Tap the gear / settings icon for the activity type.
  3. Tap Fitness Assessments to see a list of the different assessments available.
    1. Assessments like the Rockport Walking Test and Cooper Running Test are only available in some activity types like walking/running.
  4. Tap on the assessment you are going to do.

The description of the assessment will give you an overview of what is expected for that particular type. It’s good to familiarize yourself with what is expected, though you will also be guided through by voice prompts during the assessment.

  1. Tap Launch / Launch Assessment to launch the sensor acquisition and get to the ready state. Once all sensors are acquired, tap Start to begin.
  2. Depending on the assessment, between 7.5 minutes and up to 50 minutes will elapse, guided in stages by voice prompts, taking you through different levels (or continuous levels) of effort throughout the assessment.

When the assessment is complete, you’ll get a summary of Fitness Level and VO2 Max as calculated by the results.

Assessment Complete

Tap Done, which will take you to your assessment results.

Fitness Assessment ResultsAssessment Results

Choose “Set All” to apply these results as your default settings and zones. You can also choose different settings to set individually as well. If you don’t set them as default at this time, you can always do that later.

To see that your Heart Rate or Pace Zones have been set to default, go to the activity you want and tap Activity Settings (gear icon) > Dashboards & Zones > Heart Rate Zones or Pace Zones.

Once you have your own personal heart rate zones, you’ll wonder why you ever did accept the default!

Some experts recommend a new assessment every 6 weeks, some every 6 months to a year, to help track your fitness level and zones through your active life. The newer the active lifestyle is, and the more variation of the training levels, the more often you’ll want to complete one.

Next step – designing custom interval workouts based on your new zones!

Using the Cooper Running Test Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Cooper Running Test assessment is very similar to the Military Physical Tests used around the world. It’s original purpose is to measure VO2 Max, however we have adapted it to extrapolate Heart and Pace Zones as well.

The most accurate assessment for Zones is the CP30 assessments, but the Cooper offers a good approximation when done correctly.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones as well as Pace Zones. To calculate a VO2 Max and FitRank (age adjusted ranking based on VO2 Max) for this assessment, you must have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate.

The Cooper Running Test is for those who are used to physical exercise. This test requires you to run for 12 minutes as far (and fast) as possible (race pace).

How to Complete the Cooper Running Test Assessment:

  • Make sure your profile in the app is correct (Gender, age, etc).
  • Find a track or very flat area you can run unobstructed for 12 minutes (approximately 2 miles). A treadmill is acceptable if you have a foot pod to measure distance.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes (light walking, stretching, etc)
  • Start the assessment on the App, and start running – Choose Run > Workout > Cooper Running Test
  • After 12 minutes, the workout will end
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Stand still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Cooper Running Test will help determine Pace Zones applicable to running, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones and Pace Zones are determined using the formulas provided for this type of test. One of the best write-ups of these calculations is the Joel Friel post here, though since the Cooper is a much shorter test, we set your average pace/heart rate to 90% of your Max and calculate the zones from there. For VO2 Max, we use the formula (Kilne 1987) VO2max = (Distance covered in metres – 504.9) ÷ 44.73.

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Advanced Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Advanced Cardio Assessment is designed for people who are in good shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week). It requires maximum-effort output, which should not be attempted by those who aren’t used to high levels of activity.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Advanced Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Advanced Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to maximum effort over a 10 minute period (for a sub-maximal assessment see the ‘Beginner Cardio Assessment’)
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Advanced Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment. For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Beginner Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Beginner Cardio Assessment is a very entry level test, mostly helpful for determining your lower Heart Rate Zones. It is not designed for people who are in great shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week).

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones too.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Beginner Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 7.5 minutes. DON’T GO TOO FAST!
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Beginner Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to approximately a 65-75% effort level over a 7.5 minute period
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Beginner Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment, assuming that max effort reached 75% of the true maximum achievable (for saftey). For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Setting Preferences by Activity Type

Access settings and preferences for each individual activity type by swiping to the activity on the home screen and tapping the Gear / Settings icon for that Activity type.

In iOS, you can also go to Settings > Settings By Activity Type.

Customize:

all specialized by workout type!

General app level settings include Zone Alerts and Prompts, Customizing your Home Screen, Auto Pause, and managing Heart Rate Monitors (HRM) and other sensors.

Set Activity Preferences by Activity – iOS

Fitdigits Activity Preferences - iOSFrom Menu > Settings

Fitdigits Activity Preferences from Settings - iOS

Set Activity Preferences by Activity – Android

Set Activity Preferences - Android

 

Customize Heart Rate Zones on the Android

Customizing your Heart Rate Zones is important to personalizing your workouts and calorie burn.

With Fitdigits apps on Android, it’s simple to change your zones, though ideally it is done through a customized Fitness Assessment you’ve taken, where we do the work for you.

  1. Tap Menu > Settings
  2. Tap My Heart Rate Zones
  3.  Tap Add Zone Set
    1. To edit a zone set, tap that zone set and tap Edit in the top right
  4. Tap on the Title of the Zone Set and the zones themselves to change the names.
  5. Tap on the beats per minute barriers to change them
  6. Tap “DONE” when finished.
  7. To set the new zone set as default in the app, tap “Set Default”