Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | November 3, 2008

Calculating Your Heart Rate Training Zones

    In my last post, I described the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones.  Today, I’ll show you a very simple method for calculating your training zones.  Your first step is to purchase a heart rate monitor if you don’t already have one.  There are many to choose from, however I suggest you visit your local sporting goods store and purchase a model that costs less than $100.  There are many models that are more expensive but they will probably include features you won’t need.  Just make sure the model you are considering provides you with continuous heart rate information (i.e., beats per minute) as well as average heart rate for your workout.  Once you have a heart rate monitor you are ready to get started.  There are several Heart Rate Training Zone calculation methods but the simplest one is based on your maximum heart rate (MHR) using the MHR = 220 – your age formula and the 5 training zones.  For example, if you are a 30 year old male, your estimated MHR is 220-30 = 190.  From here it is simple to calculate your training zones: 190 x .5 = 95; 190 x .6 = 114; 190 x .7 = 133; 190 x .8 = 152; 190 x .9 = 171; 190 x 1.0 = 190.  You then plug in these numbers to get your personal Heart Rate Training Zones:

  • Zone 1 = 95 to 114 BPM (beats per minute)
  • Zone 2 = 114 to 133 BPM
  • Zone 3 = 133 to 152 BPM
  • Zone 4 = 152 to 171 BPM
  • Zone 5 = 171 to 190 BPM

This approach is fine for most exercisers.  However, the 200-your age formula (note: for women, the calculation is 226 – your age) can be somewhat inaccurate when it comes to estimating your maximum heart rate.  It can be off by 10-15 beats per minute.  Therefore, for competitive athletes and those in serious training programs, I suggest using a method that more accurately determines maximum heart rate and/or lactate threshold.  I’ll review more effective methods, starting with the Karvonen Formula, in my next post.

NEXT POST – November 7, 2008

Calculating Your Training Zones with the Karvonen Formula

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