How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate

Calculating Heart Rate


Your target heart rate is the level of exertion you should aim for when exercising in order to gain the most benefits from your workout. Your target heart rate is also a useful range for how your body is responding to your workout.

Target heart rate is 60-80% of your maximum heart rate, depending on what level of exertion you wish to work at.


Different Training Zones

Below is a list of the different levels of exertion and the corresponding percentage you would use to reach your target heart rate:


Recovery Zone — 60 to 70%

Active recovery training should fall into this zone (ideally at the lower end). It’s also useful for very early pre-season and closed season cross training when the body needs to recover and replenish.


Aerobic Zone — 70 to 80%

Exercising in this zone will help to develop your aerobic system and, in particular, your ability to transport and utilize oxygen. Continuous or rhythmic endurance training, like running and hiking, should fall under this heart rate zone.


Anaerobic Zone — 80 to 90%

Training in this zone will help to improve your body’s ability to deal with lactic acid. It may also help to increase your lactate threshold.


How Do I Find My Target Heart Rate?

You can use the formulas below to calculate your maximum heart rate, and to then find your target heart rate:


220 – age = maximum heart rate


Maximum heart rate x training % = target heart rate


For example, if a 50 year old woman wishes to train at 70% of her maximum heart rate, she would use the calculations below:

220 – 50 = 170 (her maximum heart rate)

170 x 70% = 119 (her target heart rate)

During her exercise routine, she would aim to reach a heart rate of 119 in order to work at her target heart rate.


You can also use the Karvonen Formula to determine your target heart rate. The formula is based on both maximum heart rate and resting heart rate.




Reprinted with permission from Exercises for Healthy Joints ISBN: 978-1-57826-344-8, $15.00 (paperback). New from Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.