How to Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate
So, you’ve decided to try your hand at heart rate training to help monitor your effort level while running. You’ve got the heart rate monitor, you’ve got the passion, now what do all those numbers mean? It’s actually simpler than most would have you believe
At the center of heart rate training is your maximum and resting heart rate; MHR and RHR are the critical numbers that all of your heart rate training will be centered around. For example, when you read about “heart rate zones” or “fat burning zones”, this is simply referring to a percentage of your maximum and resting heart rate.
Because the effectiveness of heart rate training is so dependent on maximum and resting heart rate, it is crucial that you calculate your maximum and resting heart rate correctly. At the bottom of the post we give you a calculator that determines your zones for heart rate training, but there is also a simple way for you to figure out these numbers for yourself, and it doesn’t require you to have an MD at the end of your name.
Maximum Heart Rate
Simply multiple your age by .85 and then subtract this number from 217. Here is what the equation would look like for you math majors.
MHR = 217 – (0.85 x Age) [Miller et al (1993)]
For example, here is what my numbers look like:
Jeff, age 27
Step 1. 27 x .85 = 22.95
Step 2. 217 – 22.95 = 194.05
Jeff’s max heart rate is 194 beats per minute (bpm)
Please note that while I think heart rate training is a great tool to improve your running, heart rate can vary significantly from person to person. That is to say, all 35 year-olds are not going to have the same heart rate. To get a truly accurate measure of your heart rate, you should perform a stress test in a lab. However, I understand that very few people who read this blog have access to such tools. Therefore, I’ve created a few adjustments that can help you arrive at a more precise maximum heart rate.
Between 20 and 30 and you are highly fit – subtract 3 beats per minute
Between 45 and 55 and you are highly fit – add 3 beats per minute
Older than 55 and you are highly fit – add 5 beats per minute
Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate is simpler to find and much more accurate.
1. Find yourself a quite room where you can lie down and rest.
2. Make sure you have a watch or clock that is easy to see.
3. Relax and breathe deeply for 1 minute, allowing yourself to get completely calm
4. Find your pulse, either on your neck, just under your chin or with your wrist
5. Count the number of times your heart beats for 20 seconds. Multiple this number by 3 and you have your resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm)
RunnersConnect Master Extra
Download our Heart Rate Calculator to find out what your individual heart rate zones are in your members-only download section.
Not a RunnersConnect Master member? Click here to learn more
Now that you have your maximum and resting heart rates figured out, you can start applying them to your training.
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