Maximum Heart Rate

(From http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/maxhr.htm)

Overview

Athletes who use a heart rate monitor as a training aid need to identify their maximum heart rate in order to determine their appropriate training zones.

Calculation of Maximum Heart Rate

The easiest and best known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) is to use the formula 220-age. A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger from the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates that the MHR varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. They suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 * age). Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University propose the formula 217- (0.85 * age) as a suitable formula to calculate MHR.

Londeree and Moeschberger also looked at other variables to see if they had any effect on the MHR. They found that neither sex or race make any difference but they did find that the MHR was effected by the activity and levels of fitness.

Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5-6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2-3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a MHR 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher MHR than that which is average for their age.

To determine your maximum heart rate you could use the following which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.

Here is a table to help you.

  Running Rowing Bicycle
Age Average
Athlete
Elite
Athlete
Average
Athlete
Elite
Athlete
Average
Athlete
Elite
Athlete
20 200 197 197 194 195 192
25 196 193 193 190 191 188
30 192 189 189 186 187 184
35 187 187 184 184 182 182
40 183 183 180 180 178 178
45 179 179 176 176 174 174
50 175 177 172 174 170 172
55 170 174 167 171 165 169
60 166 170 163 167 161 165
65 162 166 159 163 157 161
70 158 162 155 159 153 157

% MHR and %VO2 Max

It is possible to estimate your exercise intensity as a percentage of VO2 Max from your training heart rate. David Swain (1994) and his US based research team using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %MHR and %VO2 Max. Their results led to the following regression equation :

The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.

The following table provides the conversion values for %VO2max to %MHR and %MHR to %VO2max.

% VO2 Max to % MHR   % MHR to % VO2 Max
10 43.4   40.0 4.7
15 46.6   45.0 12.5
20 49.8   50.0 20.3
25 53.0   55.0 28.1
30 56.2   60.0 35.9
35 59.4   65.0 43.8
40 62.6   70.0 51.6
45 65.8   75.0 59.4
50 69.0   80.0 67.2
55 72.2   85.0 75.0
60 75.4   90.0 82.8
65 78.6   95.0 90.6
70 81.8   100.0 98.4
75 85.0      
80 88.2      
85 91.4      
90 94.6      
95 97.8      
100 101.0      

Associated Journals and Books

The following journals and books contain more information on this topic:



Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

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