Understanding maximum heart rate
Maximum heart rate refers to the highest number of beats that your heart can reach per minute during a strenuous exercise session. It varies from one person to another. Although it is not an indicator of physical fitness per se, it is very helpful in deciding the kind of training or workout to take up.
How do you calculate your maximum heart rate?
There are various formulae available for calculating heart rate maximum. The simplest and most popular entails subtracting your age from 220. Therefore, if you are 20 years old, your heart rate maximum would be 200 bpm. The limitations of this method are that it is less accurate when used for younger or older people. Secondly, it does not consider factors that are specific to a person’s body such as genetics.
The Tanaka is another formula that is used in calculating heart rate maximum. It is done as follows (208-0.7×age). The Gulati is another formula that is gotten as follows (206-0.88×age). It is mostly used in calculating the maximum heart rate for females. The advantage of both of these formulae is that they are more accurate in heart rate maximum calculation across different ages. However, they don’t consider the diversity of the body types. Some people generally have either a higher or lower heart rate maximum.
Why is it important to know your heart rate?
Knowing your heart rate maximum is important in decision-making, especially in matters of exercising and training. Identifying your heart rate zones will inform you about the type of exercises that you will engage in based on your target. You can also keep track of the number of times that you hit your heart rate maximum during exercise. Get a premium heart rate monitor subscription to keep track of heartbeats during exercise.
There are various heart rate training zones determined by different percentages of maximum heart rate. These zones influence the kind of exercise that you take part in depending on your goals. For example, if your goal is to improve your overall aerobic fitness level, you can choose workouts that reach 70-80% of your heart rate maximum. If your goal is to lose weight and build endurance, workouts that reach 60-70% of your maximum heart rate would be appropriate for you. If your goal is active recovery, workouts that reach 50-60% of your maximum heart rate would be appropriate.
So, for how long can you sustain your maximum heart rate during exercise?
You can only sustain your heart rate maximum for a short period of time, say a few seconds to a minute at most. This is because your maximum heart rate is reached when you involve yourself in the most strenuous level of physical exertion that your body is capable of. However, athletes who are used to strenuous physical exercises, they are able to sustain their maximum heart rate for a bit longer, say 2-4 minutes at most.
Does your maximum heart rate increase with increased fitness and if so, is a high heart rate maximum encouraged?
As stated earlier, heart rate maximum is not necessarily an indicator of fitness. A higher maximum heart rate does not mean a higher fitness level. It is also not raised by exercising regularly. Having a higher heart rate maximum compared to another person does not mean that you are more fit than they are. However, improving your fitness level or increasing the intensity of your workouts helps you to sustain your maximum heart rate for longer. The major factor that influences your maximum heart rate is genetics though it decreases gradually as you get older.