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.

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.

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.

You could find an accurate max heart rate reading at the conclusion of the 20 metre maximal shuttle test, if wearing a heart rate monitor.

Determine your resting Heart Rate

Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. The  average  heart rate range is between 70 and 75 beats per minute. A fitter person i.e. someone with a high Vo2 max (Vo2 max is defined as the highest rate of oxygen consumption attainable during maximal or exhaustive exercise) as a direct result of regular weekly aerobic and anaerobic exercise, will have a lower resting heart rate. An extreme example would be a ‘Tour de France’ cyclist who could have a resting heart rate of between 40 and 45  beats per minute.

Measurements taken of participants exercising  weekly (minimum of twice per week) in a good circuit training class show resting heart rate ranges on average, of between 58 and 68 beats per minute.

Calculate Your Heart-Rate Reserve

Subtract your heart’s resting rate from your maximum rate.

For example, if you are 40 years old, subtract that number from 220; your maximum rate is 180. Next, subtract your resting heart rate 70, in this example. Your heart-rate reserve is 110 beats per minute.

So Max heart rate 180, minus resting heart rate 70 = a heart rate reserve of 110 bpm

So How do I Know an approximate aerobic training Zone for a 40 year old with a 180 bpm max Heart Rate

To avoid using some complicated formulas, you could try this method.

70% of 110, your Heart rate reserve, is 77. Add your resting Heart Rate which is 70 bpm and your total is a max of 147 bpm approx for your aerobic training

So How do I Know an approximate anaerobic training Zone for a 40 year old with a 180 bpm max Heart Rate.

90% of 110, your Heart rate reserve, is 99. Add your resting Heart rate which is 70 bpm and your total is a max of 169 bpm approx for your anaerobic training.

***You could use the attached chart as a guideline for training, when wearing a heart rate monitor, however the jury is still out on the fat burning phase. The Zones between ‘weight-control’ and ‘Anaerobic’ would be a preference for many when exercising.

NOTE: Everyone’s fitness levels are different. You could have three participants training together, each aiming to exercise in the ‘Aerobic Zone’.                        To take on the spot walking, Jogging and running as an example, you could have person A. reaching the ‘Aerobic Zone’ while walking, a fitter person B. reaching the ‘Aerobic Zone’ while jogging, and the fittest of the three C. reaching the same ‘Aerobic Zone’ while Running.