A woman wearing an exercise singlet and checking her pulse rate on her neck

Progressive Heart Rate

  • Ideal for hitting a range of intensities
  • Great for those who take a bit longer to warm up
  • A good way to break up a longer run

A progressive heart rate run is a good way of breaking up a continuous run and perhaps working a bit harder than usual.


A heart-rate monitor is essential for this session.

The Session

A progressive heart rate run is simple to explain and simple to execute. Simply start at a low/comfortable heart rate and gradually increase the intensity of the run so your heart rate rises.

Try and plan ahead so that for the final section of your run you are running fairly hard, then for the very last minute put in a really big finishing effort. Building up gradually like this can often mean you spend more time running at a higher intensity than might otherwise be possible.

Depending on the length of the run, it's best to increase the intensity every 3-5 minutes or so. This will give you a chance to adapt and let your heart rate settle.

If you're familiar with your heart rate zones then you could break the run up into five sections, spending a different amount of time within each zone. When planning, be aware that you will be able to spend much longer in the lower zones than the higher zones, so adjust the durations accordingly.

If you like you can take a formal approach and set an alarm on your watch to alert you periodically, at which point you would increase the heart rate by a set amount.

If you are taking this approach then work out in advance what is manageable in terms of both overall length and heart rate increments.

Progressive heart rate runs work well for runs of anything from 30 to 90 minutes


Progressive Pace

Another great workout that's similar in approach, but different in execution is progressive pace where you progressively increase pace instead of heart rate.


Be careful not to go off too hard. You want to leave yourself room to increase the intensity.

No need for a separate warm up since you'll be starting at a lower intensity and gently easing yourself into the run anyway. A good option for a cool down is to just add an extra easy five minutes on to the end of the run.

Also See

Find your personal heart rate zones and get customized session suggestions with out Heart rate zones calculator »

Read more about training by heart rate in our guide »

Find out whether or not maximum heart rate formulas work »