Calculating Your Target Heart Rate
Your fitness routine has likely changed with current circumstances.
The pandemic year with gyms closed and stress levels high affected us in multiple ways. As we tiptoe back into an exercise regime, its important to do so with awareness. That includes knowing your actual target heart rate and using that number for a safe, effective workout, whether youre going out for a run, or heading back to a studio for the first time. Measuring your target heart rate is a concrete, numbers-dont-lie way to sneak a peek inside your body to find out what exercise intensity is right for you. In fact, it may be the piece of data that finally convinces you not to push too aggressively during your cardio routine or not take it so easy that you barely get your heart rate up. Not everyone is meant to work out the same way, and figuring out your target heart rate can give you a clearer sense of just how hard you should push yourself to improve your health and fitness.
Heart Rate and Your Health
During aerobic exercise, your heart, lungs, and circulatory system are called on to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles youre engaging. Your heart rate is one way to measure just how hard your body is working to do all of that.
Knowing your THR helps you navigate your workout safely and effectively.
How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate
Your target heart rate is 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which must be determined before you can zero in on your target range.
Target Heart Rate Zone Calculation Methods
- Basic by Age
- This is historically the most common calculation and used by the American Heart Association. THR is calculated by multiplying percent intensity by the MHR. Example: At 70% intensity THR = MHR x 0.70.
- Karvonen by Age & RHR
- This method calculates THR using the Karvonen Equation. MHR is calculated using age and allows you to enter a measured RHR. Example: At 70% intensity THR = x 0.70) + RHR.
- Karvonen by MHR & RHR
- This method calculates THR using the Karvonen Equation and allows you to enter both a measured MHR and a measured RHR. Example: At 50% intensity THR = x 0.50) + RHR. Where MHR – RHR is called your Heart Rate Reserve .
TheAmerican Heart Association recommends target heart rate zones for exercise at 50% to 85% intensity of MHR and defines a heart rate during moderately intense activities at 50-70% of MHR, and heart rate during hard physical activity at 70-90% of MHR.
Why Should I Know My Maximum Heart Rate
Knowing your max heart rate allows you to customize your workouts to help you reach a variety of fitness goals. To build cardiovascular endurance and overall;aerobic fitness, for example the ability to perform low- to moderate-intensity work for long periods youll work at a lower percentage of your MHR than if youre trying to build strength, power, speed, and muscular endurance.
So having at least a rough estimate of your MHR can help you build an exercise routine tailored to your objectives, with no time or workouts wasted.
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Is Resting Heart Rate Different By Age
For most of us , between 60 and 100 beats per minute is normal.1 The rate can be affected by factors like stress, anxiety, hormones, medication, and how physically active you are. An athlete or more active person may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Now thats chill!
When it comes to resting heart rate, lower is better. It usually means your heart muscle is in better condition and doesnt have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Studies have found that a higher resting heart rate is linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure and body weight.2
Cross Referencing Max Heart Rate Calculations
While we know these calculations are reasonably accurate, my suggestion is to wear a heart rate monitor when you go to the gym to workout. Keep an eye on your heart rate throughout your workout and see how you respond to various exercise intensities. If you are in pretty good shape, you can run on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes, than at the end really sprint hard for 1-2 minutes. Whatever your heart rate shows at the end of that sprint, add another 5 beats per minute and thats a pretty decent estimate of your max heart rate.
Another even easier way is if you are breathing extremely hard during a workout so that you cant even talk at all, youre probably within 5-10 bpm of your max heart rate. For me, after a set of walking lunges with a lot of weight, my heart rate jumps through the roof and Im pretty close to my max.
In future posts, I will go into more depth about how to use training zones to help you get leaner, and give you some sample cardio training workouts.
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Calculate Heart Rate For Fitness
The range required to improve aerobic endurance is higher than that required for fat burning. This is between 75 and 85% of your heart rate reserve.
Using the example above: 75% of the heart rate reserve of 100 is 75, and 85% is 85. Again, you must add the resting heart rate to both numbers.
Add your resting heart rate back to both numbers. In this case, to improve aerobic endurance, you should achieve between 155 and 165 beats per minute. This is essential to improve your physical conditioning .
How To Calculate Your Max Heart Rate
There are a number of different ways to measure exercise intensity, but using your max heart rate to create target training zones is the most common and reliable. Heres a brief overview of how to calculate your max heart rate, along with a couple tips to help you better understand the limitations.
Should You Be Tracking Your Heart Rate
Understanding your MHR can help you make sure you’re exercising at the proper intensity for your goals. Heart rate-based exercise personalizes your training to take it to the next level, so if it’s a possibility for you, consider investing in a wearable heart rate monitor, Cheng says, or try a workout class like Orangetheory Fitness, where every participant wears a heart rate monitor.
Just don’t let your heart rate become the sole focus of your workout. “If you find yourself taking extra lengths of time to calculate formulas, distracting you from your workout, it’s best to practice on rest days or hire a professional to monitor your heart rate for you,” Cheng says.
Maximum Heart Rate And Beta Blockers
Our HRmax Calculator asks you to check a box if you use beta blockers. The reason for that is that heart patients and others on beta blockers will have a reduced maximum heart rate.
Beta blockers bind to adrenaline receptors and block access for adrenaline molecules. Adrenaline causes the heart to pump both harder and faster. Hence,;beta blockers reduce the maximum heart rate. The magnitude of the reduction depends on the dosage, so we recommend that you test yourself to find an exact HRmax.
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Important To Get The Maximum Heart Rate Right
Maximum heart rate is an important tool to uncover cardiovascular disease. During stress testing, age-expected maximum heart rate is used as a guideline for when the test should be concluded. If the test is finished before the load is high enough, you risk not to detect subclinical heart disease.;Therefore, it is of great clinical relevance to have a way to;accurately estimate;HRmax.
The traditional formula for determining HRmax is “220 minus age”, but;can underestimate HRmax by up to 40 beats per minute in seniors. In fact, the method is inaccurate already at an age of 3040 years, and gets;more inaccurate the older you are.
In The HUNT Fitness Study, we measured accurate maximum heart rate in 3,320 healthy adults aged between 19 and 89. Based on these tests we made a completely new formula which estimates maximum heart rate far more accurately than “220 minus age”. The HRmax Calculator is based on this formula: “211 – 0.64*age”.
How To Calculate Target And Maximum Heart Rates
You can calculate your target and maximum heart rates using the formula below.
To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Your target heart rate zone is determined based upon your maximum heart rate. You want to stay within 5075 percent of your maximum heart rate during exercise, depending upon your fitness level.
To find your target heart rate, multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.50. This will give you the low range number.
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What The Experts Do
Monitor Heart Rate for Motivation
For Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., most workoutstake place on an elliptical trainer in his home. His machine has electrodeson which he can place his hands to automatically see his heart rate. Itgives me a sense of how hard Im working, he says.
Blaha also uses his targeted heart rate to guide the course that heprogrammed into the machine, so that he works up to where he wants to be interms of exertion. Knowing your target heart rate and trying to achieve itcan be very motivating, he says.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, its vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
Calculate Maximum Heart Rate With A Field Test
Its not a coincidence that this comes as number 3. Field tests should only be attempted by athletes with a solid aerobic foundation who know what they are doing. Inexperienced athletes are better off estimating their Max HR and structuring the training process first, before pushing the body to the limit.
Some beginner athletes may not even be able to exercise 20 minutes non-stop, let alone go full gas for that amount of time. This can cause a variety of injuries .
In fact, beginners may not even get the full benefit from the test. The test will require a lot of mental strength , because such level of suffering is hard to maintain.
Beginners will quit or slow down long before they reach their true maximum capacity.
For everyone else tests below are listed in an order of increasing complexity from easiest to more complex.
For optimal results, each of these tests requires total freshness. Avoid scheduling any intense sessions at least 2 days before the test and get enough sleep beforehand.
Also, do a thorough warm up for these sessions, as youre going to go really hard. Most optimal would be to include both:
- 10 minutes of full-body exercises, taking all joints through a full range of motion and
- a 10-15 minute jog with 4×20-second gradual speed pick-ups. Aim to reach & maintain maximum speed for the last 5 seconds.
Obviously, adjust the warmup according to your sport
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How To Measure Your Heart Rate
To properly utilize heart rate training, you need an easy way to track your heart rate. Of course, you can always go old school, use a timer and place your fingers on your pulse to check beats per minute during your workouts, but that can get challenging when your heart rate soars, and youre trying to count beats while huffing and puffing. Fortunately, chest straps and wrist watches make measuring your HR instantly easier.
Just about any GPS-tracking watch will also track heart rate with at least moderate accuracy, but if youre looking for the most accurate option available, studies show youll be best served by opting for a chest-strap monitor.
According to a 2017 study comparing chest strap and wrist-based heart rate monitors, the Polar H7 was the most accurate of the seven products tested. Of course, there are many options on the market that havent been tested with this type of scientifically-validated approach, but of those that have been studied, these products consistently achieve the most accurate results:
A waterproof, optical;HR monitor for your arm;
Age And Fitness Level Based Formula
This formula uses your age and fitness level to determine your target zones. It is a more personalized number and recommended for people who are experienced exercisers.;First, you must take your heart rate for three mornings in a row before getting up from bed. Once you have those numbers you can calculate their average by summing them and then dividing the sum by 3.
/ 3 = Morning Resting Heart Rate
This is the single best indicator of your state of fitness. Once you have this number established as a baseline, you can use it to understand more about yourself than you can imagine. Take it again every once in a while, at least once every two weeks. As your fitness improves, you will most likely see that number going down.;
If you see an elevated number, it could mean one or more of the following:
- You did not recover from a hard workout the day before
- You need more rest
- Your body has begun fighting off an oncoming illness
Your estimated maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. In order to get your target heart rate zones you need to do the following calculations:
Heart rate zone
Read Also: How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate
The Maximum Heart Rate Estimation Test
In this approach, you either get lab tested on a treadmill or you estimate the numbers through a series of running drills where you run as fast as you can in a progressive manner.
The advantage of lab testing is that they can often do VO2 max testing and lactate threshold testing at the same time, which gives you much more valuable training information.
If youre interested in getting lab tested, I recommend reaching out to a University that has an exercise science or physiology program. Or, if youre near a large city, you might be able to find some form of performance science center or fitness facility that does advanced testing.
While maximum heart rate can be estimated based on running all out over a series of runs, it is highly discouraged.
You should not attempt this without professional guidance.
Running at a 100% all-out effort can increase your risk of having a cardiac event. Do not do this! In fact, I am so against calculating your maximum heart rate in this matter, I wont even tell you how to do so.
To be honest, Im not a fan of these types of estimation methods. Maximum heart rate testing carries a risk that I do not feel is worth taking and, for most people, lab testing simply isnt feasible due to cost or lack of lab facilities available.
There are much more effective ways to calculate your heart rate zones, and well cover them shortly.
Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate
The easiest way to do this is a simple paper-and-pencil calculation. Subtract your age from 220. The result is an age-predicted maximum beats per minute.
It’s important to note that this method does not take into account your fitness level or inherited genes, which can make your true maximum heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute higher or lower than the age-predicted number.
A second method to calculate your maximum heart rate is to have an exercise tolerance or stress test. This usually is supervised by a physician and performed in a hospital or clinical setting in three-minute stages, during which the speed and incline continue to increase in an effort to elevate your heart rate until it climbs to its highest level.
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What Does Max Heart Rate Mean
Your max heart rate is the greatest number of beats per minute your heart can possibly reach during all-out strenuous exercise. Maximum heart rates vary from one person to another, and while they are not an indicator of physical fitness, knowing what your max HR is can be very useful when deciding what types of workouts or training you want to do.
Below well explain how to figure out your max heart rate, what to do with it, plus answer some frequently asked questions about it.
The Karvonen Formula To Calculate Heart Rate Zones
Step by step guide to calculate your heart rate zones using the Karvonen formula. There is an example included and a calculator.
- Post author
- 4 June 2016
The Karvonen formula is one of the bests that can be used to define your heart rate zones and anaerobic threshold. It is based on the heart rate reserve, so it takes into account both your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. Therefore it gives a much better result than the formulas that use only the maximum heart rate.
Calculating your heart rate zones using the Karvonen formula is very easy and it takes only a few minutes. I will show you what steps you have to follow and at the end there is an example included, too.
To use this formula you need to know your resting and maximum heart rates.
After the calculation you will have your heart rate zones and anaerobic threshold that you can apply to your training the exact meaning and application of the zones and threshold varies with every training plan.