Athletes who use a heart rate monitor as a training aid need to identify their maximum heart rate in order to determine their appropriate training zones.
The easiest and best known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) is to use the formula 220-age. A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger from the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates that the MHR varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. They suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 * age). Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University propose the formula 217- (0.85 * age) as a suitable formula to calculate MHR.
Londeree and Moeschberger also looked at other variables to see if they had any effect on the MHR. They found that neither sex or race make any difference but they did find that the MHR was effected by the activity and levels of fitness.
Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5-6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2-3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a MHR 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher MHR than that which is average for their age.
To determine your maximum heart rate you could use the following which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.
Here is a table to help you.
It is possible to estimate your exercise intensity as a percentage of VO2 Max from your training heart rate. David Swain (1994) and his US based research team using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %MHR and %VO2 Max. Their results led to the following regression equation :
The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.
The following table provides the conversion values for %VO2max to %MHR and %MHR to %VO2max.
|% VO2 Max to % MHR||% MHR to % VO2 Max|
The following journals and books contain more information on this topic: