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    Maximun Rate (HRmax)

    Maximal heart rate generally declines with age from about 220 beats per minute in childhood to about 160 beats per minute at age 60. This fall in heart rate is fairly linear, decreasing by approximately 1 beat per minute per year. There is no strong evidence to suggest that training influences the decline in maximal heart rate. It should be remembered that individuals of the same age may have quite different maximal heart rates-therefore it is more accurate to calculate this value by undergoing a stress-test instead of relying on the formulas below. See stress tests at: Sports Coach and Polar FAQ's.

    32% of the population will have a maximal heart rate greater than +/- 11 bpm different from the HRmax. (Max Heart Rate: Age-Related Decline)

    Target Heart Rate

    Your target heart rate is the maximum you should reach during a workout. It will vary depending on your objectives:
    Fat Burn: 60%-75% of HRmax: - Maintain/reduce weight. Fat supplies nearly 86% of total calories.
      Fat may be a higher percentage of calories burned, but you burn more total fat with a more strenuous workout. See below
    Aerobic Conditioning: 75-85% of HRmax: -Improves Cardio-Respiratory Endurance (CRE). Trains the body's tissues to use O2 efficiently.
    Anerobic Excercise 85-90% of HRmax: -Builds muscle. At this level there is not enough oxygen to use aerobic metabolism and the muscles start using carbohydrate in the muscle for its energy. However, fat is burned indirectly as a result of other reactions resulting from the muscle building process.
    Note: The Anerobic Threshold is lower for untrained individuals according to Eoin Fahy, Ph.D..

    Formulas for estimating Max Heart Rate (HRmax) and Target Rate Examples
    Examples for a age = 50 yrs., resting rate = 59

    (220 - age) (Non-athletic)170102-128128-145
    208 - 0.7 * age (Dr. D. Seals U. Colo.)173104-130131-147
    214 - 0.8 * age174104-131131-148
    (205 - age/2) (Fit)180108-135135-153
    MaxHR=214 - 0.8 * age; Target = Resting HR + (Max HR-Resting HR)*%HRMax)174128-145145-157
    (220 - age + resting rt.)/21158697
    Resting Rt. + %HRMax (220-age-resting) + 10 (if resting <60)180136-152152-169
    (226 - age) (Non-athletic)176106-132132-150
    (211 - age/2) (Fit)186112-140140-158
    209 - 0.7 * age174104-131131-148
    Heart Rate calculator Spread Sheet

    Karvonen Formula:
    Resting Rt. + %HRmax (220-age-resting) + 10 (if resting <60)
    %HRmax=60-75% (Easy), 85-90% (AT), 90-100% (VO2) 
    These formulas are general guides. Some people have naturally higher heart rates. My maximum according to these formulas ranges from 150 to 170 (I'm 70 years old), but I will hit 185 when I push it.
    "Find Your Maximum Heart Rate" at Runner's World recommends the following to find your HRmax.
    "Findings from Oslo have suggested that a combination of short runs will give you higher readings still, and this would seem to be your best option. Run as fast as you can evenly for three minutes (ideally on a treadmill), rest with two or three minutes gentle running, and then repeat your three-minute maximal run. During the second run you should get a higher MHR value than with any other method."

    Aerobic threshold:
    The lowest exercise intensity at which blood lactate markedly increases above resting level. Almost all energy is produced aerobically and you could exercise at this intensity for hours.
    It is when blood lactate reaches a concentration of 2 mmol/litre (at rest it is around 1)

    AT: Anaerobic threshold -

    Exercise intensity at which anaerobic metabolism increases and blood lactate starts to accumulate. This is the highest exercise intensity that can be sustained for a prolonged period.
    The amount of available oxygen is no longer sufficient to meet the body's energy demands and a second pathway called anaerobic ("without oxygen") glycolysis is recruited. The end product of anaerobic glycolysis is lactic acid (lactate). As running pace is increased futher, the lactate concentration in the exercising muscles increases rapidly and this point is referred to as tha anaerobic threshold (AT) or lactate turnpoint. Subjectively, this is where a pace at which breathing becomes more labored and the dreaded burning sensation in the legs begins to appear. Well-trained athletes usually reach their AT at approximately 85-90% of their VO2max heart-rate, but for untrained individuals this threshold is much lower (50-70% of VO2max heart-rate).

    How to measure AT:
    1.Conconi test - Plot the heart rate over speed/workload for different levels of workout.
    2. Handheld blood lactate meters.
    It is when blood lactate reaches a concentration of 4 mmol/litre .
    3. Gas exchange.
    This lactic acid is buffered primarily by bicarbonate. The bicarbonate-derived CO2 causes an increased alveolar CO2 output relative to O2 uptake.

    VO2 - This represents the maximum rate of oxygen consumption for a person, in liters per minute. Usually around 95% of your maximum. 55% of VO2Max usually occurs at about 70% of HRMax A good rule of thumb is to run no more than 10% of your weekly mileage at this pace.

    Source: Eoin Fahy, Ph.D.
    See also VO2max at

    The talk test is another good way of establishing how hard you are working, if you find it difficult to say a few words, you are probably working out anerobically. For a good indication of aerobic exercise, you should be able to say a few words, catch your breath, and then carry on talking.

    Note: The generally accepted error in the age-predicted formula is 10-12 bpm, which is due to different inherited characteristics and exercise training. I've seen articles which say individuals can vary by up to -20 to +30 beats/min. The most accurate way of determining your individual maximum heart rate is to have it clinically tested (by treadmill or bicycle stress test) by a cardiologist or exercise physiologist.

    Heart Rate Zones:
    The fat burn zone (60-70% of HRmax) occurs frequently on workout machines in gyms.
    The Polar heart rate monitor has the following zones.

    WebMD says it's not true that Moderate exercise promotes weight loss more effectively than vigorous exercise. You have to burn more calories than you consume and greater exertion burns more calories.

    BuiltLean Creator Marc Perry, says During exercise your body draws energy from primarily two places: fat stores, or glycogen stores. Glycogen is stored carbohydrates in your muscles and liver.
    At 50% of your max heart rate, your body burns a ratio of 60% fat to 40% glycogen. At 75% of your max heart rate, the ratio is 35% to 65%, and at even higher intensities, the ratio is even lower.

    30 Minutes of Exercise Fat Calories
    Calories Burned
    Total Calories
    Low Intensity Group (50%) 120 80 200
    High Intensity Group (75%) 140 260 400
    So, why work so much harder to burn only a little more fat. Because of the Afterburn Effect. Higher intensity workouts cause a metabolic disturbance that burns calories after the workout is completed.
    During high intensity exercise, you are burning primarily glucose, but after is when you burn the fat. says "Exercising at 95 percent of your maximum heart rate in short segments can burn more calories overall than maintaining a steady heart rate throughout a workout."


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last updated 22 APR 2015