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080817 Heart Rate Calculation Options

080817 Heart Rate Calculation Options

By Danny M.O’Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

Effectively training in your target heart rate zone will result if greater physiological adaptations within your body. Knowing which formula to use in figuring out the best heart rate zone depends on how accurate you want to be in the calculations.

Here are three options to consider.They range in difficulty of using them from easy to slightly less easy.

The most commonly used formula is to subtract your age from 220. This supposedly results in your maximum heart rate (MHR). However, this can be off as much as ten percent plus or minus beats per minute in the final figure. Once you have figured out your MHR multiply this answer by 60-80% and you will have your exercise target heart range. As an example if you are 30 years old your MHR would be 190 beats per minute (BPM). Multiplying this by 80% will set your target heart rate at 152 BPM. The majority of your training time will be spent at this heart rate.

  1. Bear in mind the reason this formula will not be accurate as the same calculations are supposed to be used by both the elite as well as the sedentary. To even the most causal observer this will not be in the best interest of either person. In the first case the heart rate may fit the elite but be far in excess for the couch potato. My advice is to learn and use one of the following.

The Karvonen formula is a better option to use and it is figured out in the following three step formula:

  1. Age predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR). Figuring this is the same as before, i.e. 220 minus your age equals APMHR.
    c. Maximum heart rate minus resting heart rate (taken as soon as you awake) equals heart rate reserve (HRR).
    d. Now take the heart rate reserve and multiply it by the percentage of exercise intensity, 60-80%, add the resting heart rate to this figure and you will have your target heart rate for training.

The most precise target heart rate formula is the one devised by Tanaka:

a. 207 minus 70% of your age will yield your maximum heart rate.
b. Maximum heart rate minus your resting heart rate equals your heart rate reserve.
c. Heart rate reserve multiplied by 70% plus resting heart rate will result in the target heart range for your exercise period.

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