Best Zone 2 Cardio Workouts – A Complete Guide 2022
Many of us want to live longer, improve our fitness and lose weight. Doing regular Zone 2 cardio can help do all that.
Zone 2 training involves training and a lower intensity but more often and for a longer period of time than other training zones.
If your goal is to improve your fat-burning percentage and increase your endurance in the gym, there are some cardio workouts you can do to increase the time spent in zone 2.
– Indoor cycling
– Elliptical machine
– Cross trainer machine
– Fast walking
This article focuses on cardio workouts you can do to keep your heart rate in zone 2. We also discuss why this is important and provide you with some of the best zone 2 cardio workouts.
But for now, if you don’t know what your zone 2 heart rate is, check out the article here to explain it in more detail.
Why Is Training In Zone 2 Important?
Training in zone 2 is important for many reasons.
One of the primary benefits of Zone 2 cardio training, is that it helps build endurance and your aerobic system. It also helps your ability to sustain a sub-threshold pace for longer (if you are a runner, cyclist, Swimmer, or Rower). In conjunction with this, doing regular cardio in zone 2 can also help your body utilize fat as an energy source. Hence, why weight loss is usually higher when zone 2 cardio is done regularly.
If your goal is not to be a faster runner, or stronger cyclist, zone 2 cardio can still benefit you greatly. For the average gym guy or girl, regular zone 2 cardio can help improve your endurance when lifting weights, help you lose weight, and build a stronger cardiovascular system.
Other benefits of doing cardio in zone 2 include:
– Helps increase the number of mitochondria
– Improves mitochondrial efficiency
– Increase metabolic flexibility
– Helps lower your resting heart rate
– Can decrease blood pressure
– Lowers the risk of injury
– Improves insulin resistance
How Do You Stay In Zone 2 Cardio?
Because most of your cardio should be done in zone 2, it is important to purchase a measuring device. This is usually a sports heart rate monitor that can track your heart rate as you train.
Once you have purchased a heart rate monitor, you will need to do a maximum heart rate field test. This will help set your training zones for cardio.
To set your training zones, check out our article here.
Once your training zones have been set, your zone 2 cardio workouts should be between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. For others that haven’t or can’t perform a maximum heart rate test, you can use the below formula as a guide. However, taking into account this is not very accurate.
220-age = Maximum Heart rate
Once you have all your training zones set up, you can start setting up your zones on your watch. Most watches will be able to set alarms for when you go outside zone 2.
Then it is about choosing the best cardio workouts to keep you within this range.
Best Zone 2 Cardio Workouts
Outside of regular strength training, weights and plyometrics you will need to combine these with adequate cardio workouts to improve weight loss, fat utilization, and cardiovascular fitness. Some of the best zone 2 cardio workouts you can do are:
– Fast Walking
– Elliptical trainer
All of the above exercises make it easy to control your heart rate and stay in your zone 2 heart rate.
For most people spending the majority of time in the gym, indoor cycling, treadmill running, and indoor rowing are probably the easiest to do. These can also be utilized when warming up and cooling down after a weight training session.
If none of the exercises above take your fancy, any other exercise that can maintain a steady heart rate in your prescribed zones can also work. However, other forms of exercise may not be as effective as the ones above.
How Long Should You Cardio Be In Zone 2?
A lot of this depends on the goals behind your training. If your goal is to build muscle mass, you should do less cardio than your weight training workouts. Alternatively, if your goal is to lose weight, you should spend up to 90 minutes doing cardio in zone 2.
If you are combining multiple forms of exercise like cardio and weight training, you may want to limit the amount of cardio you do down to 60 minutes. This will help prevent burnout or fatigue which may affect your weight training.
Alternatively, if you are an experienced athlete with years of training behind you, there should be no problem combining 90 minutes of cardio with other forms of exercise, as long as you allow adequate recovery throughout the week.
Can You Do Zone 2 Training Every Day?
Since zone 2 training is not overly taxing on the body, it can be performed every day without too much danger. However, a lot of this will come down to the amount of time spent training. Generally, it is recommended that spending at least one day in zone 1 and another complete rest day will help prevent overtraining, and burnout and promote much faster recovery.
For most people that aren’t spending hours and hours every day in zone 2, it will take less than 8 hours for the body to fully recover. Thus making it safe to perform zone 2 cardio every day of the week if kept under 60 minutes and is varied with other training.