Home‎ > ‎SwimTip‎ > ‎

Heart Rate Color Zone System

posted May 17, 2012, 11:26 AM by Pat Windschitl   [ updated May 17, 2012, 11:26 AM ]
The "Color Zone" system was introduced by Jon Urbanchek from the University of Michigan. It combines a simplicity in naming, a swimming speed approach to assigning zones based on test-set performance, and a ideal listing of heart rate goals at each level. 

The Color Zone System is based off the Endurance (EN) levels 1-3 and is defined by 5 colors. These progress from White (the easiest), to Purple (the most intense).   

WHITE

EN-1

RECOVERY

130 – 150 BPM

5% SLOWER THAN NORMAL

Low Intensity

200m pace + :30-40

Short rest 10 – 20 sec rest 

Example Set:

1 x 900 Alt. Pull/Kick/Swim by 100, :20 rest

1 x 400 Alt. 50 Drill / 50 easy swim

Focusing on form, consistent pace (no drop off).  Effort is a little above what you might do for an active recovery.


PINK

EN-1

    AEROBIC DEVELOPMENT

    130 – 150 BPM

    NORMAL SPEED

    Aerobic Development

    Short rest 10 – 20 sec rest 

Example Set:
1 x 900 Alt. Pull/Kick/Swim by 100, :20 rest
1 x 400 Alt. 50 Drill / 50 easy swim

Focusing on form, consistent pace (no drop off). Effort is a little above what you might do for an active recovery.


RED

EN-2

BUILDING ENDURANCE

150 – 170 BPM

FASTER SPEED!

Anaerobic Threshold. This is ideal level to train at to build endurance as it includes a high heart rate and the most continuous yardage.  

10 to 20 sec rest

Example Set: 

4 x 200 Hold Red
4 x 100 Descend 1-4 (White to Blue), :20 rest
6 x 150 Hold Red (:15 rest)
6 x 75 Descend 1-3 (White to Blue) 

This is just below the anaerobic threshold, known as a "Maximum Lactate Steady State" MLSS. It’s called a "Rainbow Set" since it has all zones, but most is spent at Red.


BLUE

EN-3

OVERLOAD!

160 – 180 BPM

FASTEST!

Critical Speed  

200m pace + :10-15

15 to 30 sec rest

Example Set:

6 - 10 x 250 on :20 rest, hold pace


This would be high intensity threshold training, the fastest speed that you could sustain for 30-45 minutes.


PURPLE

EN-3

RACE PACE TRAINING

180 – 200 BPM

ALL OUT SPRINT

MVO2  

200m pace + :5-10

:30-1:30 REST

Example Set:

4 x 100 on :10/:15 rest, as fast as you can hold

Really uncomfortable,you should not be able to complete more than 8-10 minutes worth of repeats at this intensity without an equal amount of rest. If you can, you need to re-test and regenerate your color zones!!!



Listed below are pacing zone charts based on best 500y free times. Look for a final time that is close to your own. 

Pacing Zones: (base = 1:00, final = 5:00)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:06.22

2:13.87

3:22.07

4:30.61

5:39.42

Zone 2 (pink)

1:04.12

2:11.39

3:19.86

4:29.11

5:38.93

Zone 3 (red)

1:02.89

2:07.14

3:11.90

4:17.00

5:22.34

Zone 4 (blue)

1:01.06

2:04.74

3:09.41

4:14.73

5:20.52

Zone 5 (purple)

:58.61

2:00.10

3:02.67

4:05.94

5:09.73


Pacing Zones: (base = 1:05, final = 5:25)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:11.74

2:25.03

3:38.90

4:53.16

6:07.71

Zone 2 (pink)

1:09.46

2:22.34

3:36.52

4:51.53

6:07.17

Zone 3 (red)

1:08.13

2:17.73

3:27.89

4:38.41

5:49.20

Zone 4 (blue)

1:06.15

2:15.14

3:25.20

4:35.96

5:47.23

Zone 5 (purple)

1:03.50

2:10.11

3:17.89

4:26.43

5:35.55


Pacing Zones: (base = 1:10, final = 5:50)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:17.25

2:36.18

3:55.74

5:15.72

6:35.99

Zone 2 (pink)

1:14.80

2:33.29

3:53.17

5:13.96

6:35.41

Zone 3 (red)

1:13.37

2:28.33

3:43.89

4:59.83

6:16.06

Zone 4 (blue)

1:11.24

2:25.53

3:40.98

4:57.18

6:13.94

Zone 5 (purple)

1:08.38

2:20.11

3:33.11

4:46.93

6:01.36


Rest Chart for each Color Zone
 White :10-:20
 Pink :10-:20
 Red :10-:20
 Blue :15-:30
 Purple
:05-15, or 
:30-1:30 


Pacing Zones: (base = 1:15, final = 6:15)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:22.77

2:47.34

4:12.58

5:38.27

:00.00

Zone 2 (pink)

1:20.15

2:44.24

4:09.83

5:36.38

7:03.66

Zone 3 (red)

1:18.61

2:38.92

3:59.88

5:21.25

6:42.93

Zone 4 (blue)

1:16.32

2:35.93

3:56.77

5:18.41

6:40.65

Zone 5 (purple)

1:13.27

2:30.12

3:48.33

5:07.42

6:27.17


Pacing Zones: (base = 1:20, final = 6:40)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:28.29

2:58.49

4:29.42

6:00.82

:00.00

Zone 2 (pink)

1:25.49

2:55.19

4:26.48

5:58.81

7:31.90

Zone 3 (red)

1:23.85

2:49.52

4:15.87

5:42.66

7:09.79

Zone 4 (blue)

1:21.41

2:46.32

4:12.55

5:39.64

7:07.36

Zone 5 (purple)

1:18.15

2:40.13

4:03.55

5:27.92

6:52.98


Pacing Zones: (base = 1:30, final = 7:30)

Name

100

200

300

400

500

Zone 1 (white)

1:39.33

3:20.81

5:03.10

6:45.92

:00.00

Zone 2 (pink)

1:36.18

3:17.09

4:59.79

6:43.66

8:28.39

Zone 3 (red)

1:34.33

3:10.71

4:47.85

6:25.50

8:03.51

Zone 4 (blue)

1:31.59

3:07.11

4:44.12

6:22.09

8:00.78

Zone 5 (purple)

1:27.92

3:00.15

4:34.00

6:08.91

7:44.60




Remember: The times listed above are your goal pace times for each level. You would still need to add in the amount of rest each of the different color zones includes. 

If you have a 5:50 in the 500 free and are doing a blue set and you're supposed to hold 1:11's, have a heart rate of 160-180, and go on an interval of 1:30-1:40.