HOW DO YOU CALCULATE YOUR MAXIMUM HEART RATE (MHR)?

Your heart rate is the most reliable indicator of your physical fitness level. By calculating your maximum heart rate, you can embark on a personalised training programme that is more accurate and effective.

1. WHAT IS YOUR MAX HEART RATE (MHR)?

MHR: Maximum Heart Rate. It equals the maximum number of beats that your heart can perform in one minute. In other words, it corresponds to the physical limit which your heart can bear. Because each of our hearts is different, we each have our own MHR. There is no "good" or "bad" score. Knowing your MHR will help you make progress and reach your objectives while staying within the limits of your heart.

2. CALCULATING YOUR MAX HEART RATE (MHR): LETS DO THE MATHS !

Cardio training programmes include training sessions based on your MHR (ie., training at 70% of your MHR). But to follow these training programmes, you first need to know your Max Heart Rate.

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The most reliable method, and the one we recommend:

MHR = 207 - 0.7 x your age

 

For example, a 30-year old athlete has a max heart rate of 186 (207 - (0.7 x 30)).

Nothing better than a field test to confirm your calculations: after a 20 minute warm-up, accelerate in 100 m segments, or for 30 seconds at a time, until you reach your limit (you must truly push yourself to the limit). Keep up this maximum speed for 1000 m or 4 minutes. On arrival, quickly check the number on your heart rate monitor and you'll have your MHR.

Another method, which we do not recommend:

There is another method which is more well known but less reliable. Following is the Haskell and Fox or so-called Astrand formula: MHR = 220 – your age.

The criticism of this method is that it is too simplistic. The higher a person's age, the more the limitations of this formula become apparent. Using this formula, a 60-year old athlete would have an MHR of 160. Therefore, such a person would start off with a training programme at 50% of his MHR, or 80 BPM (beats per minute). That corresponds to the normal heart rate while standing and not moving (between 50 and 90 BPM). So using this formula, a 60-year old runner or cyclist would not be able to increase their cardio and endurance capabilities.

3. HOW TO USE YOUR MHR TO PREPARE YOUR TRAINING

Some programmes (like My Geonaute or Decathlon Coach) allow you to easily set your training heart rate by defining a percentage of your MHR (e.g., 70% of your MHR). This percentage is defined based on the desired goal: weight loss, endurance, getting back in shape, etc.

 

For increased accuracy, you can also define your training heart rate with the following formula:

Training heart rate = desired% x (MHR – heart rate at rest) + heart rate at rest

To calculate your heart rate at rest, measure it just after waking up, while still lying in bed and relaxed. Use a heart rate monitor. Or, take your pulse at your wrist or carotid artery (neck).

4. TRACK YOUR PHYSICAL EXERTION LEVELS AND MONITOR YOUR HEART RATE WHILE TRAINING

To measure your heart rate while exercising, use a heart rate monitor (HRM). The goal is to regularly check that you are maintaining your target heart rate (more or less).

 

If your heart is willing, certain sports are recommended for increasing your heart rate: power walking , long-distance running , cycling, lrowing, cross-country skiing , etc., or their  cardio-training equivalents at the gym: rowing machine, exercise bike, cross-trainer  and fitness workouts.

ADDITIONAL ADVICE

Don't forget that your MHR rate changes over time! Our Max Heart Rate goes down by 1 beat per year on average.

Regularly recalculate your MHR.

Happy training!

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