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How To Figure Maximum Heart Rate

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How To Calculate The Maximum Heart Rate

How to Calculate Your Max Heart Rate For Fitness Training

Over the years, various panels, researchers and trainers have tried to develop a formula for the maximum heart rate. As previously mentioned, the high level of individual variability is always a factor. The values which our calculator produces are predominately approximate average values, but they are actually reasonably accurate, because of the inclusion of age, resting heart rate and body weight.

Target Heart Rate Calculator

Ever ask yourself, “how do I find my target heart rate?” Finding your target heart rate is easy with our target heart rate calculator. Target heart rate calculation can be determined for any age and activity level, enabling you to use a heart rate monitor and get the most benefit from your workouts.

What Is Maximum Heart Rate

Maximum Heart Rate is the amount of beats a heart makes in a minute under maximum stress.

Max HR is used as a benchmark for maximum output the athletes body can produce. Knowing that number enables the athlete and his coach to structure the training process around specific training intensities or training zones.

Maximum heart rate can vary significantly from person to person. In fact, high or low Max HR is neither good nor bad. Its just what a person is born with.

Instead, using it as a reference to build a structured training plan focused on specific exercise intensities is what makes all the difference.

All 5 of the training zones are defined as a percentage of maximum heart rate. Which is why its critical to determine maximum heart rate that is accurate to achieve desired results from training.

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How To Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

Originally published July 6, 2016 3:40 pm, updated October 12, 2020

Here are some of the most popular methods to calculate your maximum heart rate, arranged from the simplest to the most accurate.

Defining maximum heart rate is easy: its the highest number of beats per minute your heart can pump under maximum stress.

Determining your maximum heart rate, however, is a little bit harder but dont despair.

First, though, a little background.

What Does Max Heart Rate Mean

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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.

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How Can I Work Out My Max Heart Rate


I was recently asked this question by a member who had bought a new gadget and was trying to set up their training heart rate zones. All the zones were percentages of her HRmax. The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.

HRmax = 200 age

For example, if you are 45 years old, subtract 45 form 220 to get your HRmax of 175bpm . Having said that, I also told her that its not the most accurate way to measure it. One of the reasons I personally believe this, is because when I am climbing Lapstone Hill on the freeway on my pushy , my heart rate is upwards of 200-205bpm. And Im a touch over 35!! While on the other hand you have Coach Sweeney who at an all out effort struggles to get to 167bpm and he is just a touch over 40yrs and one of the fittest endurance athletes we have at Atmosphere. So here are a few better ways I have found to work it out. Put simply, exercise really hard and see how high the meter goes So how do I do this?

Happy testing

How To Calculate Maximum Heart Rate With A Field Test

Besides estimations and tests, you can calculate max heart rate by putting on your running shoes, firing up your heart rate monitor, and heading out into the real world.

You wont need fancy laboratory equipment for the field test but youll still get an accurate and personal estimation of your maximum heart rate. The premise is simple: you warm up properly and then do an exercise that brings you close to your maximum effort.

Please note that for a maximum effort field test its best to call a friend and have them join you, just to be on the safe side. Also, make sure you have some hard training under your belt from recent weeks.

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Max Hr Test #: The 42 Test

This test is more interactive and is based on VO2 max-type of training. The idea is that you dont let the body fully recover by having a rest interval shorter than the speed interval.

Traditional VO2 max training is targeted to build power and speed endurance, as well as teach the body to tolerate the build-up of lactate in the body.

The difference in this test is that we focus on reaching the maximum heart rate. Therefore, every interval should be performed at maximum speed and not the lactate threshold speed.

The protocol is: do 4 repeats of 2 minutes at maximum effort with 1 minute rest interval. I bet after second youll already see your heart rate redlining and after third youll be quite close to the absolute maximum.

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What Does A Low Active Heart Rate Mean

A low active heart rate can mean that a person is not exercising intensely enough to benefit from the activity. For example, if a person is walking or jogging slowly, their heart rate may not be within the ideal range.

People with no underlying conditions who notice that they have a low active heart rate may want to increase the intensity of their workout to get it within the recommended range.

However, if someone is new to regular exercise or has a health condition that affects their ability to exercise, it may be better to aim for the lower end of the range initially.

The American Heart Association recommends that these individuals aim for 50% and gradually work upward as they develop more strength and stamina.

How Does This Correlate To My Running Assessment

I got a running assessment last year from Cayuga Medical Center, and got a personalized report of my heart rate zones as part of the VO2 max test. The MAHR calculation jibes well with this report, with my Zone 2 between 120 and 139. So, if I stay below 143 Ill stay in this zone and reap the benefits of aerobic training. We’ll see how it goes!

Zone 1, Recovery: HR < 125 HR< 50% VO2max, RPE < 12: Easy training zone with purpose of absorbing heavier training days and minimize risk of overtraining

Zone 2, Base Training Zone: HR 120-139 HR 50-60% VO2max, RPE 12-13: Aerobic zone of moderate intensity. Most of off season training should be spent in this zone with the goal of building a training base.

Zone 3 Ventilatory Threshold: HR 140-155 HR ~60% VO2max, RPE 14-15. Training in this zone will increase your tolerance to lactate and raise your anaerobic threshold. Individuals can remain in this zone for less than 1 hour. This zone is usually typical race pace.

Zone 4, Interval Training Zone: HR 156-186 HR 75%-100% VO2max, RPE 16-19. Can sustain training within zone for 90 seconds to 5 minutes. This zone is beyond lactate threshold and increases VO2max and enhances anaerobic metabolism.

Zone 5, High Intensity Training Zone: HR 187 HR 100% VO2max or higher, RPE 19 or 20. This zone is at or above VO2max and can only be sustained for short bouts of approximately 30-90 seconds.

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I Determined My Max Hr Now What

Calculating individual max HR is a starting point in the whole heart rate training journey.

Once maximum heart rate is known calculated with a formula or tested put it into this heart rate zone calculator. The tool will show your heart rate ranges for each of the training zones, which you can use to make the training process more efficient. Heads up: youll also need a resting HR measurement for that to be super precise.

Id be more than happy to guide you and work with you as a coach reach out to me via my coaching page, if youre interested. If youre not yet ready for a formal coaching or are willing to figure it out on your own, this guide to heart rate training zones would be a great starting point.

The Maximum Heart Rate In Your Fitness App Is Just An Estimate

How to Calculate Maximum Heart Rate

If you are already going to the effort of tracking your workouts its important to get accurate data. While general data can show you important trends and give you a rough estimate of your effort and improvements over time, you can get much more accurate data by making sure that you have a few simple settings correct. One of the most important metrics that you need to get right is your maximum heart rate. Accuracy is key in heart rate training.

Maximum heart rate is the highest possible heart rate that your body is able to get to. This represents your maximum intensity. This is the value that represents pushing yourself to your absolute physical limits. When you first download your fitness app youre only seeing an estimate based on your age.

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Maximum Heart Rate Calculator

With our HRmax Calculator you can estimate your maximum heart rate based on age and gender. Knowing your own maximum heart rate is important in your own personal exercise training. It is also of great importance for exercise stress testing to uncover cardiovascular disease. Our calculator will only give a rough estimate, and we also give recommendations on how to find your real maximum heart rate with an exhaustive exercise test.

How To Find Your Real Maximum Heart Rate

by: Shin Ohtake, Fitness & Fat-Loss ExpertAuthor of MAX Workouts, The Ultimate Lean Body Fitness Program

Exercising within your target heart rate zone has long been accepted as a standard training protocol, but what if I told you that the formula for calculating your max heart rate is inaccurate? And that even the doctor that created the formula admits to being completely surprised at how the medical and fitness communities have made it the standard formula, without anyone actually doing any extended research.

Heres the real story on how the formula for calculating your max heart rate came about :

Can you imagine if your MHR was 160, but according to the formula your MHR was supposed to be 185? You could push your self until you passed out and still not reach your calculated MHR. Or, on the other hand, what if your MHR was actually 200, but the formula calculated it to be 180? You would always be training at sub-par intensities, wondering why the people around you were sweatin up a storm when you barely broke a sweat.

The truth is that the popularity of the formula was more about timing than about exact science. It was available at just the right time, when people wanted an easy way to objectively figure out an intensity that would satisfy filling the criteria for both the medical field as well as the fitness field.

So what is the best way to find out how hard you need to train, without going into the danger zone? Well, you have a couple of options.

Stay Lean,

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What Are Hr Zones

Following is a overview of each zone and examples of how it might be used. Please note that none of these apply if you are doing Low Heart Rate training, that is 1 max HR and no zones.

Zone 1: Very Light 50 to 60 percent of MHR

Reserve Zone 1 for your warm up and recovery runs where low intensity is the goal.

Running in this zone feels like you could keep going for hours and is excellent when we start running and are building a base. Its a great way to build stamina, allowing you to exercise multiple days without accumulating a lot of fatigue.

Zone 2: Light 60 to 70 percent of MHR

Most of your long runs and easy runs should fall in Zone 2.

These runs arent as easy as Zone 1, but you can still maintain a conversation and should not finish the run feeling completely wiped out. This is the hardest zone for many endurance athletes because they may often feel the pace is too slow, but its exactly what the body needs to build endurance.

Your marathon pace will likely start in Zone 2 and move in to Zone 3 or 4 by the end of the race.

Zone 3: Moderate 70 to 80 percent of MHR

This is your tempo run pace, used to develop speed and strength and provide the most cardiovascular benefit.

Runs in Zone 3 should last about 30-45 minutes. The pace is comfortably hard conversations are limited to a word or two at a time.

This is the Zone that too many runners do their easy runs in, which results in overtraining.

Zone 4: Intervals or Fartleks, 80 to 90 percent of MHR,

Is It Bad To Exercise At Your Maximum Heart Rate

How to Calculate 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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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

How To Measure Your Own Pulse

There are different methods for determining individual values. The first of these is measuring by hand, by placing with the index, middle and ring finger on the throat, and counting the beats for 15 seconds. Then multiply this value by four and you have your heart rate. This method is useful for determining your resting heart rate. This should ideally be measured in the morning after waking up, since at this time we are not yet really active. You can also wear a sports watch with a heart rate strap and determine your heart rate in real time.

This method of pulse measurement can also be used for determining the maximum heart rate. As a rule you should do maximum capacity training under medical supervision, for what is known as a performance diagnostic, which means that you are subjected to increasingly high stresses on a treadmill undergoes, until you finally reach a performance dropout. The pulse at this point is defined as the maximum heart rate.

Since not everyone wants to run in order to get a performance diagnostic, which is also too expensive for most, there are different calculation models to help you try to determine your maximum pulse using approximations.

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Why Calculate Max Heart Rate

Calculating max heart rate is necessary for heart rate training and understanding what your heart rate zones are. Once you know what your max HR is, you can then monitor your heart rate while exercising and track what percentage of your max you hit during certain workouts and activities.

Different percentages of your max HR represent various heart rate training zones, which are useful to target depending on what your goals are. For example, as you can see in the chart below, exercising at 70-80% of your max heart rate is good for improving your overall level of aerobic fitness.

Why Should You Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

Heart rate-based training enables you to run at the right intensity in order to reach your training goals. In other words, training smart is better than always training hard.

Training intensity is divided into five heart rate zones from very light to maximum intensity. The heart rate zones are calculated as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

To determine your personal heart rate zones, you first need to know or estimate your maximum heart rate.

For example, within heart rate zone 4, youll be training at 8190% of your HR max and increasing your maximum performance capacity.

Alternatively, at heart rate zone 3 , youll be training at the slightly reduced level of 71-80% of your HR but you will still be improving the efficiency of blood circulation.

To determine your personal heart rate zones, you first need to know or estimate your maximum heart rate.

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