Polar CS600X User Manual


Polar Sport Zones

Polar sport zones offer a new level of effectiveness in heart rate-based training. Training is divided into five sport zones based on percentages of your maximum heart rate. With sport zones, you can easily select and monitor training intensities and follow Polar’s sport zones-based training programs.

Target zone

Intensity % of HRmax, bpm

Example durations

Training benefit



171–190 bpm

less than 5 minutes

Benefits: Maximal or near maximal effort for breathing and muscles.

Feels like: Very exhausting for breathing and muscles.

Recommended for: Very experienced and fit cyclists. Short intervals only, usually final preparation for short riding events.



152–172 bpm

2–20 minutes

Benefits: Increased ability to sustain high speed endurance.

Feels like: Causes muscular fatigue and heavy breathing.

Recommended for: Experienced cyclists for all year round training varying length. Becomes more important during pre-competition season.



133–152 bpm

10–60 minutes

Benefits: Enhances general training pace, makes moderate intensity efforts easier and improves efficiency.

Feels like: Riding in at good pace with constantly high cadence.

Recommended for: Cyclists progressing towards events or looking for performance gains.



114-133 bpm

60–300 minutes

Benefits: Improves general base fitness, improves recovery and boosts metabolism.

Feels like: Comfortable and easy, low muscle and cardiovascular load.

Recommended for: Everybody for long training sessions during base training periods and for recovery exercises during competition season.



104–114 bpm

20–60 minutes

Benefits: Helps to warm up and cool down and assists recovery.

Feels like: Very easy, little strain.

Recommended for: For recovery and cool-down exercises throughout the training season.

HRmax = Maximum heart rate (220-age). Example: 30 years old, 220–30=190 bpm.

Cycling in sport zone 1 (Very light) is done at very low intensity. The main training principle is that performance level improves after training during the recovery period, not only during training. You can accelerate your recovery process with very light intensity training.

Sport zone 2 (Light) is for endurance training, an essential part of any training program. Cycling sessions in this zone are easy and aerobic. Long-duration training in this light zone results in effective energy expenditure. Progress will require persistence.

Aerobic power is enhanced in sport zone 3 (Moderate). The training intensity is higher than in sport zones 1 and 2, but still mainly aerobic. Training in sport zone 3 may, for example, consist of intervals followed by recovery. Cycling in this zone is especially effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles.

If your goal is to compete at top potential, you will have to train in sport zones 4 and 5. In these zones, you cycle anaerobically, in intervals of up to 10 minutes. The shorter the interval, the higher the intensity. Sufficient recovery between intervals is very important. The training pattern in zones 4 and 5 is designed to produce peak performance.

When cycling in a certain sport zone, the mid-section of the zone is a good target, but don’t keep your heart rate at that exact point all the time. Training intensity, recovery level, environmental and other such factors will all contribute to heart rate responses. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to subjective feelings of tiredness and to adjust the training program accordingly.

A simple way of making use of the sport zones is making your target heart rate zones. For further instructions, see Plan Your Training.

After the session is over exercise duration in the sport zone is displayed. Access the Weekly display for the sport zones you have been exercising in, and the time spent exercising in one. The Polar ProTrainer 5 software offers up to 10 sport zones to better serve your training needs and heart rate reserve.

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OwnZone Training

Your cycling computer automatically determines an individual and safe exercise intensity zone: your OwnZone. The unique Polar OwnZone defines your personal training zone for aerobic training. The function guides you through your warm-up, and takes your present physical and mental condition into account. For most adults, OwnZone corresponds to 65-85% of maximum heart rate

OwnZone can be determined in 1-5 minutes during a warm-up period by cycling, walking, jogging, or doing some other sport. The idea is to start exercising slowly at a light intensity, and to gradually increase intensity and heart rate. OwnZone is developed for healthy people. Some health conditions may cause heart rate variability-based OwnZone determination to fail. These conditions include high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and certain medications.

Listening to and interpreting the signals your body sends during physical exertion is an important part of getting fit. Since warm-up routines differ for different types of exercise, and since your physical and mental state may also vary from day to day (due to stress or illness), using the OwnZone function for every session guarantees the most effective heart rate target zone for that particular type of exercise and day.

For more information on how to determine your OwnZone see Determine Your OwnZone.

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Maximum Heart Rate

Maximum heart rate (HRmax) is the highest number of heartbeats per minute (bpm) during maximum physical exertion. It is individual and depends on age, hereditary factors, and fitness level. It may also vary for different types of sports. HRmax is used to express exercise intensity.

Determining Maximum Heart Rate

Your HRmax can be determined in several ways.

The most accurate way is to have your HRmax clinically measured. A stress test supervised by a cardiologist or exercise physiologist is usually performed on a treadmill or a maximal treadmill/ bicycle.

You can also determine your HRmax by taking a field test together with a training partner.

An estimate or a HRmax-p score that predicts your HRmaxcan be obtained by taking a Polar Fitness Test.

The commonly used formula: 220 - age, although research shows that the method is not very accurate, especially for older persons or those who have been fit for many years.

If you have done some hard training in recent weeks and know that you can safely reach maximum heart rate, you can safely take a test to determine your HRmax yourself. Having a training buddy during the test is recommended. If you are uncertain, consult your physician before undertaking the test.

Here is an example of a simple test.

Step 1: Warm up for 20 minutes on a flat surface, building up to your usual training pace.

Step 2: Choose a hill that will take more than 2 minutes to climb. Cycle up the hill once, building to as hard a pace as you can hold for 20 minutes. Return to the base of the hill.

Step 3: Cycle up the hill again, building towards a pace you could just about hold for 10 minutes. Note your highest heart rate. Your maximum is approximately 10 beats higher than the noted value.

Step 4: Cycle back down the hill, allowing your heart rate to drop 30-40 beats per minute.

Step 5: Cycle up the hill once again at a pace that you can only hold for 1 minute. Try to cycle halfway up the hills. Note your highest heart rate. This brings you close to your maximum heart rate. Use this value as your maximum heart rate to set training zones.

Step 6: Make sure you get a good cool-down, a minimum of 15 minutes.

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Heart Rate Value in a Sitting Position

HRsit is your average heart rate when completely still (i.e. while sitting). To easily determine HRsit, wear your heart rate sensor, sit down, and do not engage in any physical activity. For a more precise measurement, repeat the procedure several times and calculate your average.

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Heart Rate Reserve

Heart rate reserve (HRR) is the difference between maximum heart rate (HRmax), and resting heart rate (HRrest)*. HRR is used to calculate exercise heart rates. It is the range within which heart rate varies depending on exertion level. HRR equals oxygen uptake reserve (VO2R).

Exercise heart rate can be determined by using the Karvonen formula**. Add the given percentage of heart rate reserve to resting heart rate.

Exercise HR = % of target intensity (HRmax – HRrest) + HRrest


Target intensity 70 % HRR for a person with HRmax 201 bpm and HRrest 50 bpm

Exercise HR= 70% (201-50) + 50

Exercise HR=156 bpm

For a precise exercise heart rate, you need your exact HRmax and HRrest. When using estimated HRmax, exercise heart rate values are always estimates.

*In Polar CS600X cycling computer, the heart rate value during a resting state is measured in a sitting position (HRsit). This is for practical reasons since HRsit is used in energy expenditure calculation because of accuracy. HRsit matches the low intensity to which different exercise intensities can be compared.

**Karvonen M, Kentala K, Mustala O. The effects of training on heart rate: a longitudinal study. Ann Med Exp Biol Fenn 1957; 35: 307-315.

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Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate varies with every heartbeat. Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation of beat-to-beat intervals, also known as R-R intervals.

HRV indicates the fluctuations of heart rate around an average heart rate. An average heart rate of 60 beats per minute (bpm) does not mean that the interval between successive heartbeats would be exactly 1.0 sec, instead they may fluctuate/vary from 0.5 sec up to 2.0 sec.

HRV is affected by aerobic fitness. HRV of a well-conditioned heart is generally large at rest. Other factors that affect HRV are age, genetics, body position, time of day, and health status. During exercise, HRV decreases as heart rate and exercise intensity increase. HRV also decreases during periods of mental stress.

HRV is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Parasympathetic activity decreases heart rate and increases HRV, whereas sympathetic activity increases heart rate and decreases HRV.

HRV is used in the Ownzone, OwnIndex, and OwnOptimizer features. It can also be monitored on its own using the cycling computer. If your HRV changes at a given cycling pace and heart rate, this may indicate a change in your training load and stress.

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R-R Recording

R-R recording rate saves heartbeat intervals, i.e. intervals between successive heartbeats. This information is also shown as instantaneous heart rate in beats per minute in recorded samples.

When recording every single interval, extra systoles and artefacts can also be seen. We recommend using contact gel (ECG gel) to optimize contact between your skin and the heart rate sensor. Readings interpreted as incorrect in the heart rate data can be adjusted and corrected with the Polar ProTrainer 5 software.

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For more facts and know-how to enhance your cycling, visit Polar Article Library.

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