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Your Maximum Heart Rate - How to Establish It and How It is Used

Your maximum heart rate is important when you want to enrich your running by using a heart rate monitor.

There are a few methods to establish your maximum heart rate. Here you learn how. These methods are:

  • Calculate

  • Have it established by specialists

  • Go flat out

  • Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

    The old rule to calculate your maximum heart rate is:

    220 minus your age

    This method is stil popular because of its simplicity. It is unfortunately not very accurate.

    I recommend against using this method. There can be a difference of over 10 beats between real maximum heart rate and the calculation in this formula.

    People have tried to find better results by taking into account the differences between men and women. This does get some better results. However, a simple calculation based on age and gender fails to recognize that every person is different.

    Moreover, your maximum heart rate varies from sport to sport. So there is no way that one formula will work for you!

    Have Your Maximum Heart Rate Established by Specialists

    Obviously the very best method to establish your maximum heart rate is have it established by experts.

    So if you want to be absolutely sure and want to spend the money towards it go to an exercise physiologist.

    They will usually do a type of test not dissimilar to the test prescribed below. The benefit of using an exercise physiologist is that you will be monitored while doing it. It is safer and arguably more accurate. And  usually you can arrange for some other tests to happen at the same time.

    So, if you have an urgent need to get the very best outcome, then go to the exercise physiologist. Otherwise, continue to the step below!

    Warning before you continue :

    Establishing your maximum heart rate is not without health risks.

    Don't use method number three if:

  • You are not used to severe exercise

  • You are a beginning runner

  • You are overweight

  • You have had a heart disease or heart disease related issues

  • Instead, go to a physician.
    So, use your common sense!

    Establish Your Max Heart Rate by Going Flat Out

    My preferred method of defining my maximum heart rate is the following exercise:

    I do a thorough warm-up. So not just a few minutes. Say 10 to 15 minutes.

    Then I run 800 metres at a fairly hard pace. Not all out. But fairly hard.

    Then I rest 30 to 45 seconds.

    Then I run 800 metres again. This time as fast as possible. I go flat out.

    The heart rate I measure at the end of this 800 metre run is my maximum heart rate.

    It is just one way. Any method that makes you go flat out for long enough will get you to your max heart rate.

    Again, I can't stress enough that you shouldn't do this type of test when you have got a health condition. This type of test does put your body under a fair amount of stress. So, keep that into account.

    How to Use Your Maximum Heart Rate

    Now, how do you use this maximum heart rate information in your running training?

    Well, when running using a heart rate monitor you will usually run in a specific heart rate zone, e.g. for a specific run your heart rate will have to be in between 120 and 130 beats per minute. For another, more strenous run, your heart rate has to be in between 130 and 140 beats per minute. And so on.

    The way to establish these heart rate zones is by using your maximum heart rate as one of the inputs. So, now that you know how to do that, go to the Zoladz method (only using maximum heart rate) or  Karvonen's method (uses maximum heart rate and rest heart rate) to establish your running training zones.

    Use the following link for more information about your rest heart rate, if you want to use Karvonen's method.

    Want more hear rate monitor training tips?
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    Go from Maximum Heart Rate Page to Heart Rate Monitor Page

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