# Karvonen Formula

The Karvonen Formula is a mathematical formula that helps you determine your target heart rate (HR) training zone. The formula uses maximum and resting heart rate with the desired training intensity to get a target heart rate.

Target Heart Rate = ((max HR − resting HR) × %Intensity) + resting HR example

Ideally, you should measure your resting and maximum heart rate for more accurate results. If the maximum heart rate cannot be measured directly, it can be roughly estimated using the traditional formula 220 minus your age (see this table of heart rate max). Also, an average value of 70 bpm can be used for resting heart rate if it is not known. See also Resting Heart Rate, and this guide to measuring heart rate.

## Example Training Heart Rate Zone

For example, for a 25 yr old who has a resting heart rate of 65, wanting to know his training heart rate for the intensity level 60% - 70%.

His Minimum Training Heart Rate:
220 - 25 (Age) = 195
195 - 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .60 (Min. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 143 Beats/Minute

His Maximum Training Heart Rate:
220 - 25 (Age) = 195
195 - 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .70 (Max. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 156 Beats/Minute

His training heart rate zone will therefore be 143-156 beats per minute.

## Related Pages

• Two problems here.  First, it seems to me that "intensity" is a pretty subjective measure.  Second, the age-220 formula has been pretty thoroughly debunked. So I'm back where I started, trying to figure out what my target heart rate should be... (from don Roberto, Apr 2013)
• This traditional formula is only accurate for approximately 75% of the population. Medications can increase or decrease heart rate, example: Beta Blockers. Also some clients will struggle to find their heart rate, or if you are exercising with your arms up this will raise heart rate. Using a Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (6-20) is a great way to track Training Intensity, ACSM recommends exercising with in an RPE range of 12-16. Hope this helps! (from Tiffany, Dec 2012)
• I am 75 and starting excercising seriously after 2002 when I had my second hip transplant. At that time and since my max heart rate is ~ 165, resting 60. My cardiologists are  mildly surprised, but put down to normal population variation. For me the bigger question is why my blood pressure is ~135 over 55. The cardiologist claims its because my arteries are stiff, but my blood pressure goes down >15 mm Hg after excercise suggesting the arteries are flexible. (from malcolm watts, Nov 2012)
• I'm a 63 year old woman who, with my doctor's encouragement, started jogging a couple of months ago.  I'm now up to 5K.  I seem to have always had a high maximum HR.  Even in my 30's, it was common for me to comfortably exercise up to 220 bpm.  According to the formula, my max HR now should be 130, which is merely a brisk walk for me.  I'm regularly at about 160-162 or so during my workouts.  I recover fairly quickly after cooling down.  Any guidance? (from Anne, Aug 2012)
• I have found that my max HR varies considerably depending on a number of factors. The most important factor is the type of exercise I am doing. Running and stair master can get my HR up the highest, but if I bicycle or row, I can't get my HR up nearly as far, even at maximal effort. You really have to determine your own max HR on the particular exercise you intend to use for training purposes. I think the best way is to just do a functional test ... after warm-up, start at some moderately high level, go for 2 minutes, then increase the speed or incline by a fixed amount every two minutes. Just keep going until you simply can't go any higher or any longer. The highest HR achieved is your max HR. I've found other factors can affect my max HR as well. Mostly these relate to what sort of training I have been doing over the last week or so. (from Terence M. Doherty, June 2012)
• I'm 70 at Christmas. The Karvonen formula suggests that my max heart rate should be 150 but mine seems to be in the low 130's. My resting rate is around 35. When I use the 150 figure the ranges for workouts are too stressful so I have adapted workouts to my numbers. However, I'm concerned that my resting and max HR are so different than the numbers on this site. Should I be taking this info to a doctor? Is there reason for concern? (from Adrian, May 2012)
• Reply:  My resting rate had always been around 40.  Eventually I learned I had a serious valve problem and a PFO (hole in the heart between chambers), and an enlarged heart, even though I had no symptoms.  Open heart surgery saved me.  It's still not clear to me whether the slow pulse should have tipped me off earlier; but, yes, I'd mention it.  Good luck!