Heart Rate and Training Zones
Heart rate (HR) can be used to monitor exercise intensity. Exercise target HR ranges
or "training zones" can be determined from a combination of resting and maximum
HR. Heart rate can be used to estimate calories used during exercise.
B. Resting Heart Rate (HRrest)
HRrest should be measured 2 to 5 minutes after waking while still in
bed. HRrest be can higher with illness and overtraining.
C. Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax)
Determining HRmax is not as easy as measuring HRrest. Directly
measuring HRmax is the most accurate method but it requires an intense
effort to achieve a maximal level of exertion. Many people estimate HRmax
based on age and other factors. Estimated HRmax can differ from
measured HRmax by as much as 10 beats/min in some individuals.
i. Measuring HRmax
The best way to measure your HRmax is to do a running test. You should
not do this without medical advice if you are over 50, if you are obese, or if you
have any history of heart problems.
This is a good way to measure HRmax. First, warm up by jogging for 10
minutes. After warming up, run as fast as you can for three minutes at an even pace.
Then, jog for two additional minutes. Finally, run as fast as you can for another
three minutes. Your HRmax is the maximum level reached during the second
HRmax usually differs for different activities. Highest values are usually
obtained while running. HRmax rates obtained while rowing are usually
2-4 beats/min lower and those obtained while cycling are 5-6 beats/min lower. Rates
measured while swimming can be as much as 15 beats/min lower. Interestingly, elite
level cyclists usually have HRmax rates while cycling that are nearly
the same as that measured while running.
ii. Estimating HRmax
The simplest and most popular way to estimate HRmax is to use the formula:
HRmax = 220 - age
A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger from the University of Missouri-Columbia shows
that the relationship between age and HRmax is not a linear. They suggest
using this formula:
HRmax = 206.3 - (0.711 * age)
Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University proposed using this formula:
HRmax = 217- (0.85 * age)
Londeree and Moeschberger also looked at other variables that might affect HRmax.
Gender and race had no effect. Type of activity and levels of fitness did predict
differences in HRmax. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained
individuals typically have a HRmax 3 or 4 beats/min lower than a sedentary
individual. They also found that well trained athletes over age 50 are likely to
have a higher HRmax than average for their age.
The following scheme incorporates these findings:
HRmax = 217- (0.85 * age)
- Use this HRmax value for running and VersaClimber training
- Subtract 3 beats for rowing training
- Subtract 5 beats for bicycle training
- Subtract 14 beats for swimming training
- Subtract 3 beats for elite athletes under age 30
- Add 2 beats for elite athletes between ages 50-55
- Add 4 beats for elite athletes over age 55
See the sidebar for a tool to estimate your HRmax
D. Training Zones
I use percentage of maximum heart rate to calculate training zones. There are many
variations. I am currently using one described by Steve House and Scott Johnston
Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete.
Heart Rate Training Zones from
House and Johnston.
||56% - 75%
|No Man's Land
||76% - 80%
||Deep & Steady
||81% - 90%
||91% - 95%
||96% - 100%
Another popular method uses percentage of heart rate reserve (HRreserve
= HRmax - HRrest) to determine target HR ranges for training
zones. This approach was initially described by Karvonen. Although the heart rate
reserve method is popular, I think it is difficult to justify its use. A discussion
of this topic is beyond the scope of this page.
Karvonen Heart Rate Training Zones adapted from
Serious Training for Endurance Athletes by Sleamaker and Browning.
||% HR Reserve
||60% - 70%
||Endurance, Strength, Body Speeds
||71% - 75%
||76% - 80%
||Intervals, Uphill/Vertical, Race Pace
||81% - 90%
||Racing, peaking sprints
||90% - 100%
See the sidebar for a tool to calculate your target training
E. Prediction of Energy Expenditure (Calories) by Heart Rate
Heart rate can be used to estimate energy used (Calories burned) during exercise.
The formula for men is:
Energy Expended = [(Age x 0.2107) + (Weight x 0.09036) + (Heart Rate x 0.6309) -
55.0969] x Duration / 4.184
and for women is:
Energy Expended = [(Age x 0.0740) + (Weight x 0.05741) + (Heart Rate x 0.4472) -
20.4022] x Duration / 4.184
Where the result, energy expended, is in Kcal, age is in years, weight is in pounds,
heart rate is average heart rate during the exercise in beats/minute, and duration
is in minutes.
These equations were derived by LR Keytel, JH Goedecke, TD Noakes, H Hiiloskorpi,
R Laukkanen, L van der Merwe, and EV Lambert and were reported in their study titled
"Prediction of energy expenditure from heart rate monitoring during submaximal exercise."
See the sidebar for a tool to calculate calories used during