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.

heart rate measurement heart rate measurement

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.


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