Max Heart Rate Training

This method of zone training uses a percentage of your maximum heart rate to determine what your zones are in. While this has historically been one of the most widely adopted methods, we at Heart Zones, Inc prefer to endorse using ZONING or Threshold Training for your workouts.

Here are is a chart that demonstrates ways to calculate your heart rate zones based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate. Heart Zones, Inc strongly encourages individuals to use ZONING or Threshold Training, but if you do use max, make sure you don’t choose 220-age to set your zones. This method is widely accepted, but highly impersonal.

Max Heart Rate Training

Understanding Max Heart Rate Methodology

From the Head Heart, Sally Edwards

Maximum heart rate is the highest frequency that your heart can beat in one minute. That is, maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can beat in 60 seconds. This heart rate number is referenced in a unit o measurement called beats-per-minute. Maximum hearts rate in human adults can be as high as 240-250 beats per minute and as low as 130 beats per minute.

Maximum heart rate is used to set heart rate zones, it is an anchor point, it is a bio marker. Maximum heart rate does not change with age. Your maximum heart rate is more or less static, changing over time as slowly as a glacier in the fit population. It doesn’t change with fitness and only decreases ever so slowly with age, most likely with age-related loss of fitness. In the content on this site, we provide you with some of the ways to conduct a “field test” to determine your maximum heart rate. You will also read other articles of who, what, how, and why to use different biomarkers like threshold or maximum heart rate to serve as the anchor point for setting training zones.

According to Carl Foster, PhD and Heart Zones Faculty member, “Using a percentage of heart-rate maximum is probably the most widely used approach for programming and monitoring exercise intensity. There is a very large body of evidence supporting this approach. Specific values of percentages of maximum heart rate are not necessarily equivalent intensities in different individuals. Thus, the use of percentages of maximum heart rate may be less than optimal versus using Threshold heart rate used in ZONING or Threshold Training System.”

The commonly used but invalid age-adjusted maximum heart rate formula has been a standard in the fitness formula for measuring maximum heart rate: 220-age (years) = individuals maximum heart rate (bpm). This formula was developed a half century ago, at a time when the science of exercise physiology was in its infancy and the technological means to create a more accurate exercise prescription or testing protocol was scarce. The result was that the “220 Minus Age” formula was neither created nor validated based on supported research or clinical testing. Today, the health and fitness industry continued support of an archaic, unproven formula is (a) potentially hazardous to the public, (b) a severe blow to our effectiveness and credibility, and (c) a tragic undermining of the proven advances and discoveries in exercise physiology over the last half century. Read Blog on This: