How to Calculate Target Heart Rate

Target heart rate is the range of heart rate which your heart reaches during aerobic exercise. Knowing how to calculate target heart rate will help you calculate your target heart rate and receive more benefit from workout. You can calculate your target heart rate and exercise within the zone of your target heart rate.

The range of your target heart rate varies and is largely dependent upon your physical condition and gender.

Calculating target heart rate using Karvonen method

You can calculate your pulse rate using your neck or your wrist. To calculate heart rate, place your finger either on the lower side of your wrist or on the lower quarter of your wind pipe. Calculate the number of pulses in one minute. You will also get heart rate calculators; you can use them to get accurate calculations. This is your resting heart rate which is an important factor in the calculation of target rate.

This method uses the intensity of heart rate between 60% – 80%.

Following are the steps you need to follow to calculate your target heart rate:

  • Step 1: Calculate your resting heart rate for three consecutive days. This will help you in getting more accurate results. When you have calculated your resting heart rate for three days, add all the three readings and find out the average of the readings.

Suppose you have calculated resting heart rate for three days and it is 76, 80 and 78. Then the average of the calculated values will be,

(80 + 78 + 76)/3 = 78

  • Step 2: Find your maximum heart rate and reserve heart rate. To calculate maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220 to calculate the maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is represented as HRmax. Suppose your age is 24 years, then your maximum heart rate will be

Maximum heart rate=220-24 = 196

  • Step 3: Calculate your reverse heart rate. To calculate your reverse heart rate, subtract your resting heart rate from you maximum heart rate. Reverse heart rate is represented as HRmaxReverse.

HRmaxReverse = 196-78

HRmaxReverse = 118

  • Step 4: Calculate lower limit of your transfer heart rate. To calculate transfer heart rate, multiply the calculated reverse heart rate by 0.6 and add resting heart rate to this value. Transfer heart rate is represented as THR.

Lower limit of THR = (118 × 0.6) + 78 = 149

  • Step 5: Calculate the upper limit of your transfer heart rate. To calculate the upper limit of your transfer heart rate, multiply the calculated resting heart rate by 0.8 and add resting heart rate to this value.

Upper limit of THR = (118 × 0.8) + 78 = 172

  • Step 6: Finally, add the values of lower limit of THR and upper limit of THR and divide it by two. This is your calculated target heart rate.

Target heart rate = 149 + 172/2

Target heart rate = 161

You can also calculate your target heart rate by multiplying the value of HRmaxReverse by 0.7 and adding the obtained value to resting heart rate, instead of performing so many calculations.

Another method, Zoladz method, is also used to calculate the target heart rate. This method uses the intensity values in the range 50% – 85%. We usually don’t use this method to calculate target heart rate. Many different formulae are also used in the calculation of HRmax and HRmaxReverse. The formulae used in the above method are the simplest one, so I prefer using them.


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