How To Calculate Maximum Heart Rate
The most common way to find your maximum heart rate is by using one of the many age-based equations. The most well-known of these is the very simple Fox formula:
220 – age = Maximum Heart Rate
This means that for a 30-year-old runner, the estimated maximum heart rate would be 190. Then, heart rate zones can be determined by calculating a given percentage of the 190 MHR.
The trouble with the Fox formula is that its not the most accurate measure as numerous variables impact MHR including genetics, the specific activity , medications, body size, altitude, and yeseven age. Runners of the same age can have drastically different max heart rates depending on genetics or how well-trained they are. Because of this, there are at least six possible formulas, all claiming bragging rights for being the most accurate for predicting maximal heart rate. Of course, researchers are doing their best to validate the different formulas, but that gets tricky, too. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research determined that in college-aged subjects, the Gellish2 and Fairburn equations seemed to be the most accurate options. That said, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends formulas with a standard deviation of seven beats per minute such as Gellish and Tanaka equations.
- Gellish2: 191.5 – .007 x age^2 = MHR
- Fairburn: 201 – .63 x age for women = MHR OR 208 – .80 x age for men = MHR
- Gellish: 206.9 – = MHR
- Tanaka: 208 – = MHR
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.
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”.
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How To Calculate Your Training Heart Rate Zones
Heart-rate training benefits everyone, from the beginning exerciser trying to lose weight, to individuals trying to improve their cardiovascular fitness, to the highly conditioned athlete preparing for the next competition.
The key to making progress is to elevate your heart rate into the correct training zone, so your effort matches your goals.
Here are seven easy-to-follow steps that will help you calculate your ideal heart-rate training zone.
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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Taking Your Heart Rate
Generally, to determine whether you are exercising within the heart rate target zone, you must stop exercising briefly to take your pulse. You can take the pulse at the neck, the wrist, or the chest. We recommend the wrist. You can feel the radial pulse on the artery of the wrist in line with the thumb. Place the tips of the index and middle fingers over the artery and press lightly. Do not use the thumb. Take a full 60-second count of the heartbeats, or take for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. Start the count on a beat, which is counted as zero. If this number falls between 85 and 119 bpm in the case of the 50-year-old person, he or she is active within the target range for moderate-intensity activity.
- Lifetime Fitness and Wellness. Provided by: Extended Learning Institute of Northern Virginia Community College. Located at: . License: CC BY: Attribution
- Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. Provided by: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Located at: . License: Public Domain: No Known Copyright
Calculate Max Heart Rate
To identify your personal target heart rate zone, you must first calculate your maximum heart rate. The easiest and safest way to calculate your maximum heart rate is using the Karvonen Method: 220 your age = your maximum heart rate. This method is accurate enough for most people and is a good starting point to base your heart rate zone training.
Then, you will need to take 85% of your maximum heart rate in order to find out your target heart rate zone for maximum performance.
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Max Heart Rate Formulas
There are a number of formulas out there for calculating max heart rate. The easiest and most commonly used one is to simply subtract your age from 220. So if youre 40 years old, your max heart rate would be 180 bpm. However, this method is flawed for a variety of reasons. Its less accurate for both younger and older people, and also does not consider variables specific to youmost importantly genetics.
Other more detailed max heart rate formulas exist as well, like the Tanaka and the Gulati . While they may be more accurate for different ages, they also fail to take into account the fact that every human body is different and some people are just born with higher or lower max heart rates than others.
A better solution is to wear a device like WHOOP that tracks heart rate continuously and will determine exactly what your own personal max heart rate is.
Heart Rate Tips To Keep In Mind
- Start at your beginning. Before getting overly concerned about your heart rate, Martin says, its best to simply get moving. If you havent exercised much before, start where youre comfortable and gradually exert yourself more over time.
- Listen to your body. Your body provides other indicators of how hard its working that you need to consider along with heart rate. Pay attention to how hard youre breathing or sweating, and stop if you feel very uncomfortable, Martin says. Devices recording your heart rate have been known to malfunction, for exampleanother reason listening to your body is important.
- Remember that target heart rate is just a guide. Dont get overly fixated on numbers, Martin says. Ideally, they just push you to work a little harder.
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Know Your Numbers: Maximum And Target Heart Rate By Age
This table shows target heart rate zones for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age.3
In the age category closest to yours, read across to find your target heart rates. Target heart rate during moderate intensity activities is about 50-70% of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity its about 70-85% of maximum.
The figures are averages, so use them as a general guide.
Target Heart Rate For Exercise
Your target heart rate is 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. It is the level at which your heart is beating with moderate to high intensity. To determine your maximum heart rate, take 220 and subtract your age.
Sustaining a workout at this pace improves cardiorespiratory endurance. So knowing your target heart rate helps you pace your workouts. Exercising at the right level of intensity will help you avoid burning out or wasting time with a workout thats not vigorous enough to help you meet your goals.
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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, it’s vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
Is It Bad To Exercise At Your Maximum Heart Rate
Most people will not be able to exercise at their MHR for more than a minute at a time. In reality, unless youre a professional athlete, youre unlikely to train above your anaerobic threshold for any considerable period.
While exercising intermittently at your MHR isnt necessarily bad for you if youre otherwise healthy, one study from Dalhousie University did find that recreational hockey players who frequently exceeded their MHR took longer to recover after exercise.
So, if you do want to train above your MHR, its best to consult your doctor first.
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Target Heart Rates Chart
What should your heart rate be when working out, and how can you keep track of it? Our simple chart will help keep you in the target training zone, whether you want to lose weight or just maximize your workout. Find out what normal resting and maximum heart rates are for your age and how exercise intensity and other factors affect heart rate.
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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Based On Age And Gender
What is the maximum heart rate of a man or a woman of a specific age?target heart rate ranges
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Weights and Measurements
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Calculate Maximum Heart Rate During A Laboratory Test
A much more formal way to calculate maximum heart rate would be to take a supervised laboratory test. Also known as VO2 max test, such analysis is a test of athletes physiological capabilities and, therefore, pushes athletes to the absolute maximum.
The protocol is quite simple athlete runs on a treadmill with an ever-increasing speed/power until complete exhaustion. Throughout the test a lot of data is gathered about athletes current fitness .
Ultimately, the test determines not only the Max HR, but also aerobic, anaerobic and lactate thresholds. All this data helps to analyse how training is impacting the body and if something should be changed/adjusted.
VO2 max tests are always supervised by exercise physiologist or cardiologist and/or other personnel, which makes it a much safer environment than a field test.
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Easy Steps To Find Your Target Heart Rate Range
Ryan Lawson, Exercise Specialist
Were all familiar with the phrase use it or lose it, and it perfectly applies to our body and muscles. Muscles are made to be used, and if theyre neglected its our health and quality of life that suffers.
Cardiovascular exercise is defined as any activity that increases your heart rate. Elevating your heart rate for an extended period of time will improve your heart health. A stronger, healthier heart is able to more efficiently deliver oxygen to the muscles and also burn more fat while youre exercising and resting.
The benefits of a stronger heart through cardiovascular exercise are numerous. In addition to a stronger heart and lungs, regular exercise has been shown to lead to better sleep, less stress, reduction in mood swings and depression and an overall more active lifestyle.
You have a target heart rate zone that you should strive for during activity. A simple way to calculate it would be to first find your predicted maximum heart rate, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220. Once youve figured your maximum heart rate, you can find your target healthy heart rate range by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 65 percent to find the low end of that range and multiply your maximum heart rate by 85 percent to find the high end of the range.
Example: The maximum heart rate for a 45-year-old is 175 and the target heart rate range would be about 113 to 149 beats per minute.
Science: A Better Formula For Fitness
Why 220 minus your age gets your max heart rate wrong
How do you work out your maximum heart rate? The simple formula 220 minus your age, right? Wrong. Sports scientists have discovered a better formula, but its still no substitute for a proper lab test.
That simple formula allows fitness seekers and athletes alike to find out their maximum heart rate by simply subtracting their age from 220. They can then use this number to estimate HR zones to regulate training efforts, recovery intensity and race pacing . It is so simple and has been quoted by so many personal trainers and magazines that it has become a fact without anybody actually citing the original research.
Some get max tested by a sports science department or by one of the range of companies who offer it. Others work out their own max HR derived from beating themselves up in race or hill climb. However, most use 220 minus age to guesstimate their maximum heart rate. For a very few it actually works out right it did for me briefly but has been wrong many more years than it has been right.
Where did it come from?
It was not a formula, it was a bad guess. So, Robergs and Roberto reproduced the data points that the whole myth of 220 had been resting upon and then did clever statistical analysis. Low and behold they found that it did not support the 220-age equation but instead it was: 215.4 .
But three things are clear:
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Its Even Easier With This Heart Rate Calculator:
Lets use a 35-year old person as an example:
- max heart rate = 220 35
- max heart rate = 185
- target heart rate for max performance = max heart rate x .85
- target heart rate = 185 x .85
- target heart rate = approx. 157
Getting healthy and staying fit requires training in an appropriate heart rate zone. The easiest way to do this is by wearing a heart rate monitor or smartwatch. Many of the most popular devices are compatible with the adidas Running and adidas Training apps to make tracking your health and fitness easy and fun.
The app guides your workouts so that you are always in the most effective heart rate zone for your unique body.