New Article: Determining your Heart Rate Range and Training Zone: Jon Bula


053Exercise intensity is extremely important when you are working on your conditioning drills, and is possibly the most important variable in determining the quality of an exercise session.  When performing interval training, training for endurance sports, measuring recovery time, or comparing the same run from a previous week a heart rate monitor is a very useful tool.  The correct use of a heart rate monitor can allow you to accurately regulate your exercise session and maximize your training efficiency.


To effectively use your heart rate monitor you need to determine your RHR (resting heart rate) and your MHR (maximum heart rate).



  • Take a 60 second radial or carotid pulse count first thing in the morning
  • It is important that you do this before getting out of bed and moving around
  • For best results do this for 3 days and take the average of the 3



  • You can use the formula 220 – Age = MHR, but just so you know this is only accurate to around +/- 12 so there is a lot of potential for error
  • I suggest the following:


  1. Treadmill test – this does not require sophisticated equipment merely a progressive protocol that will exhaust you in 12-15 minutes and your heart rate monitor.  An example of a progressive protocol on a treadmill is as follows:
  • Begin running at 5 miles per hour,
  • increase the speed by 0.5 mph every minute until 10 mph
  • if you can still keep going increase the grade by 2% every minute until you can no longer keep up (when you reach exhaustion)
  • The highest heart rate value that you obtain is your MHR.  This value should occur near the end of the test, it is normal to see the HR plateau during that final few minutes.


Please note that determining MHR requires maximal effort and therefore, for selected individuals, presents a potentially dangerous situation.  Maximal exercise is potentially dangerous for various people: elderly, people with heart conditions, diabetes, there is a big list.  It is a good idea to consult your physician before performing maximal exercise.


Now that you have your homework to do – determining both your resting and maximal heart rates, next week I’ll tell how to use those numbers and determine your training zones.


Once you have your resting and maximal heart rate values you can use the following formula to determine your training zones.


Heart Rate Reserve Method


  • HRR = MHR – RHR
  • (HRR x training%) + RHR


Recovery Zone: 60% - 70%

  • Active recovery at the lower end of this zone
  • Aerobic base training middle to upper end of this zone


Aerobic Zone: 70% - 80%

  • If you are an aerobic athlete or are training to improve your aerobic system this is where the bulk of your training will occur.


Anaerobic Zone: 80% - 90%

  • Improvement in your anaerobic threshold and your body’s ability to deal with lactic acid will improve by training in this zone.



Endurance athlete with RHR of 50 and MHR of 190

HRR = 190 – 50 = 140

Recovery Zone

(140 x 60%) + 50 = 134

(140 x 70%) + 50 = 148

Recover Zone = 134 – 148 beats per minute.