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How To Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

July 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By: Dr. Eileen Psencik

Working out with a heart rate monitor is wonderful, but only if you know what you are doing! It can help you improve performance, increase endurance, enhance your cardiovascular system and make your workouts a healing experience! To begin, you must calculate your maximum heart rate. Then you can determine when you are working out aerobically, when you are able to use oxygen efficiently, and when you go above this zone and begin to create lactic acid and work in your anaerobic zone.

There are two ways to calculate your maximum heart rate:
1. 220 – your age = Max Heart Rate is the old standard equation that does not account for your your current health status.

2. Calculating your Max HR including health factors (from Dr. Phil Maffetone) allows for a specific value relative to your current health status
• 180 – your age = Max HR
• – 10 if recovering from an illness
• – 5 if just beginning an exercise program, recent injury/training/competition, frequent allergies, cold, flu, etc.
• +5 if you have been exercising for 2 years without injury

Zone 1: 60%-65% % of your Max Heart rate for Aerobic recovery
Zone 2: 65%-70% of your Max Heart Rate for Endurance Base
Zone 3: 70%-80% of your Max Heart Rate for Aerobic capacity
Zone 4: 80%-85% of your Max Heart Rate for Lactate threshold
Zone 5: 86% + of your Max Heart Rate for Maximum Aerobic training

To burn fat and lose inches, stay in zones 2 and 3. These are also the zones where your body is able to heal more efficiently; going above them puts increased stress on your body.

In zones 4 and 5 your adrenal glands produce more Cortisol, your stress hormone. If your adrenal glands are already fatigued and unable to produce enough Cortisol from chronic stress, trying to get into zones 4 and 5 can be harmful to your system, and if your Cortisol before working out is too high, it can have the same deleterious effect.

As your body heals, you will be able to work out harder at a lower heart rate! You will find you have more energy and endurance when you learn how to work out smarter, not harder!

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