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How Talking Can Improve Your Cardio

Jun 25, 2021

Since 2011 our understanding of particular zones has become more refined and here at Fitness Together we have developed Cardio Together which is a more precise way of determining and programming what clients should do for cardiovascular exercise. For brevity’s sake I am going to hold off on discussing the whys of cardio and how to program; here I would like to focus on how to know you are in the zone that is planned for you.

The classic method of tracking is by using a heart rate monitor. As I described in my previous article you can estimate your MHR and then find what percentages to keep within. But what happens if you don’t have your monitor? Or if it doesn’t transmit to the machine you are on if you’re using a training device? Or maybe you got horrible sleep last night, ate a fatty breakfast, and so keeping in those percentages in today’s workout just seems like more effort than it should? Allow me to introduce you to the Talk Test.

The Talk Test is my personal favorite when it comes to tracking (and making immediate improvements to) your cardiovascular exercise intensity. By trying to talk you can determine what zone you’re currently in and whether to adjust up or down. It requires no special equipment and takes mere seconds to evaluate. I’m going to follow with some bullet points for the five zones we use; to determine which zone(s) are best for you please consult with a fitness professional.

  • Red Line (Maximum Effort or 90-100% MHR) – Out of breath, cannot even think about talking, in fact you could not talk if it saved your life, heart feels like it is coming out of your chest.
  • Anaerobic (Performance Training or 80-90% MHR) – Difficult to get air, cannot talk, you want to stop.
  • Aerobic (Endurance Training or 70-80% MHR) – Breathing is a bit harder, talking is challenging but doable (can probably get out a few sentences at a time before needing to pause what you’re trying to say).
  • Fitness Zone (Preparatory Training or 60-70% MHR) – Easy breathing, can carry on a conversation easily.
  • Heart Healthy (Recovery Training or 40-60% MHR) – Effortless talking.


Schedule a complimentary fit evaluation so we can get to know you and your goals and build you a customized training program to reach them.