Heart Rate Maximum
Maximum heart rate is the highest number of heart beats per minute (bpm) when exercising maximally. This is best measured during a maximal exercise test, in which the body is pushed to its physical limit. For athletes it is handy to measure your maximum heart rate as you can use the percentage of maximum heart rate as an indicator of exercise intensity. Many exercise programs use the percentage heart rate level to set training loads. See Heart Rate during exercise.
Measuring Maximum Heart Rate
Heart rate will increase gradually as workload increases, up to the maximum possible. As the heart rate will begin to decrease as soon as exercise is completed, maximum heart rate is best measured using a heart rate monitor or electro-cardiogram (EEG) corresponding to the final moments before competition of exercise. Maximum heart rate can be recorded during a maximal aerobic fitness test, though any maximal exercise should be able to elicit a maximum heart rate, as long as the exercise workload is gradually increased.
Calculating Maximum Heart Rate
The most accurate way to determine your maximum heart rate is to measure it directly. If that is not possible, you can also calculate using several available formulas. The calculated figures are only estimates, you can expect you actual maximum heart rate to be somewhere within 10-20 beats of this, resulting in non-optimal intensities if you are using this heart rate estimate for setting training programs. See this Max HR table for a quick lookup of your maximum heart rate using these formula.
- The most commonly used formula is to take your age (in years) away from 220. For example, if you are 34, your predicted max heart rate is 186 bpm (220 - 34). The formula was derived from a range of maximum heart rate studies in 1970 by William Haskell and Samuel Fox.
- A study in 2001 with healthy adults found a more accurate formula of 208 - 0.7 x age (from Tanaka, H., Monahan, K.D., & Seals, D.R. (2001). Age-predicted maximal heart rate revisited. J Am Coll Cardiol. Jan;37(1):153-6.)
- Heart rate Maximizer - an aerobic fitness test
- Table of maximum heart rate related to age
- All about Heart Rate and Exercise
- Measuring Heart Rate — how to measure using the manual and monitor methods.
- Resting Heart Rate — are you rested and recovered?
- A discussion of What is a normal heart rate?
- Exercise Heart Rate — a measure of intensity and fitness
- see also the table of Heart Rate training ranges
- Heart Rate Monitors for sale, also ECG Monitors
- Where does the 220 figure from which we subtract the age come from? I have come across it when trying to calculate the maximum heart rate. (from Samson, Feb 2013) - I'm not sure, I guess it is just the figure that gives the most accurate results.
- 220 is your heart rate when you are born you max goes down every year (from Marcelle, Mar 2013)