How To Change Heart Rate Zones on Garmin

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 07/27/22 •  6 min read

In this guide, we’ll show you how to quickly change your heart rate zones on your Garmin watch…


Heart Rate training is a brilliant tool for building your aerobic base, but if your heart rate zones are set up incorrectly on your Garmin watch your workout data will be completely inaccurate. Your watch will think you’re either working too hard or not hard enough. And you don’t want that.

This is a massive issue for nearly all Garmin users, new and old. Each Garmin watch comes with predefined heart rate zones, and as most of us know, your own individual heart rate zones vary quite a bit – there is no one size fits all solution for this kind of thing.

For instance, your Zone 2 heart rate might be 120 to 150 while an elite athlete’s BPM would be closer to 80 to 120.

As you get better at running, your heart rate, while running will lower, and you’ll be able to run faster and longer with a lower heart rate. This is the magic of base training, it builds up your body’s running efficiency over time.

But if you do not set up your Garmin watch’s heart rate zones correctly, your Garmin watch might think you’re constantly training in Zone 3 or Zone 4, when in actual fact you’re well inside your Zone 2.

And this is what leads to issues with “unproductive training” or “too much load” early on in your training and adaptation phase.

How To Change Heart Rate Zones on Garmin Watch

You Now How Three Potential Options:

  1. Select BPM to view and edit the zones in beats per minute
  2. Select %Max. HR to view and edit the zones as a percentage of your maximum heart rate
  3. Select %HRR to view and edit the zones as a percentage of your heart rate reserve (maximum heart rate minus resting heart rate)

What’s My Maximum Heart Rate?

Of course, for the most accurate setup, you need to know your maximum heart rate. To do this, accurately, you will need to go to a sports college and have it professionally measured. But most people either cannot or do not want to do that.

What’s the alternative? According to the esteemed running coach, Jack Daniels, the simplest way to find out your max heart rate is to run a few uphill sprints. Do this a couple of times and then check your heart rate – this will be a good approximation of your max heart rate.

How To Change Heart Rate Zones on Garmin
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From here, you can then use that reading to create more accurate heart rate zones on your Garmin watch. I did this a few years back and was surprised to see that my Zone 2 training heart rate was completely out of whack; my Garmin constantly thought I was going too hard and too fast.

I changed my heart rate zones in line with the data I collected from testing my maximum heart rate and ever since my Garmin watch has been way more accurate. My heart rate zones are more reflective of my ACTUAL perceived effort and, happily, my Zone 2 training is now logged as Zone 2 training, not Zone 3.

Garmin’s Heart Rate Zones Explained

If you’re new to running and using a Garmin watch, you might be curious about how Garmin’s heart rate – or training – zones work. Essentially, these zones are designed to give you a quick overview of the type of training you just did, based on your heart rate during the session.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what Garmin’s heart rate/training zones mean:

Which Heart Rate Zone Should I Train In Most?

According to ALL the best running coaches, both online, in journals, and inside books, the vast majority of your running should be done in Zone 2. It should be easy, so easy that you can hold a conversation while doing it. The benefit of Zone 2 training is that it builds up your aerobic base.

Zone 2 training helps your add additional miles to your weekly running numbers without putting too much stress on your body. Once your body is adapted to running and you’re logging 20-40 miles per week, you can start adding in things like tempo runs and threshold runs.

Zone 2 is steady training just coming above the easy zone, It’s not moderate or anything above. The main benefit form zone 2 heart rate or zone 2 power is that it builds aerobic base and endurance. By Improving aerobic capacity this improves your ability to maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time.

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But you should only do this once your body is fully adapted to running, and that can take months (especially if you’ve never run before). All the experts agree that, for those who a new to running, the best approach is to run often and run slowly, log as many miles as you can at a really slow, comfortable pace.

Once you can go out and run comfortably for 30 to 45 minutes, recover well, and not feel sore the next day, you can start thinking about more specific training – a half marathon or a 10K race, for instance. But the key is to do the foundational work first, the slow, easy miles for weeks and months, that get your body used to running.

This will prevent overuse injury, protect your body from damage, and ensure you get the maximum benefit from running. If you’re brand new to running, try running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Do not be afraid of walking during your sessions if you need to.

Keep your pace slow, focus on your form, and work on getting to 30 minutes of constant running.

It’ll take time, weeks or potentially months, but your body will adapt, you will lose weight, and over time you will become faster and a more efficient runner.

Just TAKE YOUR TIME; running is brutal on your body, so the softly-softly approach is essential. Ignoring this is why 80% of new runners get injured early on. Do not be one of those guys or gals.

Also, be sure to check out how the Garmin Fenix 7 compares to the Fenix 6 – you might be surprised at the differences given the price of the latest Garmin running watch!

How To Change Heart Rate Zones on Garmin
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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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