When you're doing cardio to burn fat, you want to stay in the range of
65%-70% of your maximum heart rate. If the goal is to increase stamina and
aerobic capacity, you aim for 85%. Piece of cake, everyone knows that. But
how do you determine your maximum heart rate? For decades, the formula has
been pretty simple: 220 minus your age = max heart rate.
However, there are some wrinkles to that formula when you consider guys like
president Bush. At 55 years of age should have 220 - 55 = 165 as his maximum
heart rate. Problem is, the guy is closer to a heart rate of 180 when doing
his annual, widely published checkups. How can this be? And if Bush's real
max heart rate is about 8% off from the standard formula, doesn't that mean
that your so-called 70% or 85% could be equally skewed?
Harvard's Men's Health Watch published an explanation last year that sheds
some new light on this matter. A couple of Colorado scientists did some
exercise test reality checking and reviewed the results of 18,712 men and
women of all ages. Based on the this real-life data they came up with a new
Maximum heart rate = 208 - (0.7 x age in years)
This should apply to all healthy men and women between 18 to 81 years of
age. Now, president Bush is in exceptionally good health for his age and
still exceeds his predicted maximum. Nonetheless, it appears the new formula
is more accurate.
Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 208 - (0.7 x age in years) formula.
The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed... or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
Advanced Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the Karvonen Formula.
- For your age, use a whole year. (Between 0 and 100)
- Put your Resting Heart Rate in the next box. (Between 30 and 100)
- In the % box, use a number between 50 and 85. Do not include the %.
- Click on the Calculate button, and it will calculate your target heart rate or that percentage.
So, in practicality, what does this mean? The difference is the greatest for
young and elderly people; people in the mid-forties will get the same
numbers as with the old formula. However, if you're 20, your max heart rate
is 194 instead of 200, meaning 70% of max = 136 instead of 140 and 85% of
max = 165 instead of 170. That makes a difference when you're setting up the
treadmill next time you're doing cardio. For a 65-year old, the max heart
rate is 163 instead of 153, with 70% of max = 114 instead of 107 and 85% of
max = 139 instead of 130.
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