Calculating your training zones

Finding the right pace for your training

There are several different methods of determining exercise intensity, one of which is training at different percentages of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate (MHR) is simply the highest heart rate that you can achieve during exercise. Specific treadmill protocols and very high intensity training tests are often used by elite athletes to determine their MHR.

However, a simple method to determine your approximate MHR is available with a quick formula.

To calculate your approximate MHR, just try using the following formula:

Men: MHR = 214 – ( 0.8 x your age in years)

Women: MHR = 209 – (0.9 x your age in years).

For example: A 30-year-old man will have an approximate MHR of 214 – (0.8 x 30) = 190

A 30-year-old woman will have an approximate MHR of 209 – (0.9 x 30) = 182

Once you have calculated your MHR, simply subtract your resting heart rate (RHR), (your RHR is your heart rate when you are fully relaxed, i.e. when you wake up in the morning) from your MHR to obtain your working heart rate (WHR). Then use the following training zones for your workouts:

  • Easy = 60 to 75 per cent of your WHR (+ your RHR)
  • Moderate = 75 to 85 per cent of your WHR (+ your RHR)
  • Hard = 85 to 95 per cent of your WHR (+ your RHR)

For example:

  1. A 30-year-old man with a RHR of 60, planning an easy workout will have a MHR of 190.
  2. His WHR = 190 – 60 = 130.
  3. His easy zone is 60-75% of 130 (+ 60) = 78 (+60) to 97.5 (+60) = 138 to 157.5.

Hence he should set his upper limit at 157 or 158 beats per minute and his lower limit at 138 beats per minute.

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