Your maximum heart rate, the most times that your heart can beat per minute, is an important number to know whenever you are beginning a training program, because it can help to keep you safe. Most experts recommend that in order to minimize the risk of heart-related damage when working out, it is wise not to exceed about 85% of your maximum heart rate. This article will explain a few different ways in which your maximum heart rate can be calculated. It is important to note, however, that only a doctor can reliably determine an individual’s maximum heart rate, because every person is different. This information is presented as a guideline only, as it can be dangerous to try and determine your own maximum heart rate without a doctor’s supervision. In determining your true maximum heart rate, a doctor will use equipment such as a treadmill, and your heart will be measured by an EKG at all times. The doctor will also have you stop before the test can become hazardous to your health.

Basic Formulas
There are two commonly accepted basic formulas for quickly determining a person’s maximum rate. The first is 220 – (person’s age), and the second is 205.8 – (.685 x person’s age). The second formula is meant to better account for standard deviation, as two adults at the same age can have maximum rates that differ by as many as 60 beats per minute. However, no single formula can reliably determine the maximum rate of every individual.

Real World Test
The real world test for determining your maximum heart rate can be a worthwhile tool because it is based upon your own actual performance and fitness level. To use the real world test to estimate your maximum rate, find a standard school racetrack, which will be around a quarter mile in length. Walk around the track four times, as quickly as you comfortably can. Find your average rate for the last lap around the track. This is most easily accomplished with a heart rate monitor. Now, grade your level of fitness on a scale of 1-3 using this guideline:

  1. You are sedentary, or have not worked out in several weeks.
  2. You work out for 15-20 minutes at a time, a few times per week.
  3. You work out several times per week, at up to one hour per session or more.

Then, take the average rate that you recorded during your fourth lap around the track, and add 40 bpm to it if you scored your fitness at level 1, 50 bpm at level 2, or 60 bpm at level 3. For example, if the average heart rate during your fourth lap was 130 bpm and you work out for a few minutes 2-3 times per week, your maximum rate should be around 180 bpm.

Lactate Threshold
The body’s lactate threshold, also referred to as the anaerobic threshold, is the point where lactate accumulates in the muscles faster than the blood can carry it away, leading to a burning sensation in the muscles. Some experts believe that lactate threshold is the most effective way to determine maximum heart rate, because when the body has exceeded its lactate threshold, the heart is no longer able to work as hard as is needed to sustain the body’s current level of activity. Lactate threshold can be easily estimated using a heart rate monitor. Begin working out at a slow pace, and every ten minutes, increase the pace slightly. At some point during your workouts, there will be a point where breathing becomes more difficult, and shortly after, you will feel a burning sensation in your legs. Your heart rate at the moment when breathing began to be more difficult will be your starting estimated lactate threshold, which can be further refined as you become more experienced.

Leave a Reply