Whether you are at the gym or doing a home workout, it is important to check in with yourself every once in a while to determine how your training intensity is matching up with your goals.  Knowing your heart rate intensity zones is a good way to keep track of how hard you are pushing your body and helps you stay aware of when it may be time to take a day off. The practice of heart rate intensity zones requires you to check your heart rate throughout each workout you do. 

The recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 min of moderate exercise or 75 min of vigorous exercise. It is also important to try and work in at least two days of strength training per week.  Now to answer some questions you may have: What is my max heart rate? How do I determine my target heart rate? Are you about to make me do math? Yes. Yes, I am. But hopefully, this simple guide will ease your fear of both math and heart rate intensity zones. 

First, we must determine your max heart rate (MHR).  Your MHR is not a rate you want to hang out at for very long. It is safe during an intense workout to have your heart rate occasionally spike up close to your MHR as long as it works its way back down during your rest periods.

For example, a 25-year-old’s MHR is right around 195bpm (beats per minute).  The older your age, the lower your MHR.  A 60-year-old’s MRH is right around 160 bpm.

Next, you need to discover your resting heart rate (RHR). This is your heart rate right as you wake up in the morning and before you get up and start moving around. A normal RHR falls anywhere from 60-100bpm.  For aerobic athletes, their resting heart rate can fall closer to 40bpm.

Finally, let’s use your MHR and RHR to determine your target heart rate zones for exercise. Follow along the steps below to find your target heart rate:

  1. MHR = 220 – age
  2. RHR = HR when you wake up in the morning lying in bed.
  3. Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) = MHR – RHR
    • HRR is simply a tool used to later discover our target heart rate (THR).  Don’t put too much thought into your HRR
  4. Target Heart Rate  = (HRR x Intensity Percentage) + RHR
    • Choosing an intensity. A moderate workout would put your heart rate between 50-70% of your MHR.  A vigorous workout would put your heart rate between 70-85% of your MHR. So a vigorous workout at 80% intensity, the THR equation would look like this:

(155 x .80) + 40 = 164bpm

THR at 80% = 164bpm

(155 x .60) +40 = 133 bpm

THR at 60% = 133 bpm

Hopefully, this provides a good understanding of how to calculate your target heart rate to meet your goals. If you have questions on what training intensity is best for you please consult us at Rehab Solutions so we can point you in the right direction. Now it is time to put this to action. Is your heart rate getting high enough for vigorous activity at least 2x a week?


Bonus Tip

You can find your heart rate on the inside of your wrist, on your thumb side.  Use two fingers and locate your pulse. Count how many beats there are in 15s. Take that number and multiply it by 4, and that will tell your your beats per minute. Also, there are many activity tracking devices that are accurate at reading heart rate as well as cardio equipment. Use what you have!

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