Formula for finding your maximum heart rate.

Sep 30, 2017
After I found out I needed heart surgery and I'd die if my heart rate got too high, I started using a heart rate monitor. I kept using it after surgery because I needed to keep my heart rate down till my heart healed, and it is now nearly seven weeks since the operation and I'm still using it to help me get back in shape as efficiently as possible. I'll probably continue to use it because it works.
For training with a monitor, it's important to know your maximum heart rate. The best and safest way to find this is to have a test done, but it isn't cheap and most people don't bother with it. I've found four formula for figuring out your maximum heart rate. Yes, there are others, but they are more complicated and not as convenient to use. At least that's my thinking.
The best known formula is 220 minus your age, if your a male and 226 minus your age if you're female. But I don't think it's the best formula.
Another formula is the Ball State one: 214 minus 80% of your age, for men or 209 minus 70% of your age for women.
A third is 207 minus 70% of your age.
A fourth is 211 minus 64% of your age.
Sorry, I'm male so I didn't write down if there was a different formula for women on these last two.
When I plugged my age into these four formula, the 220 minus my age gave me the lowest number and the 211 minus 64% of my age gave me the highest number, assuming I didn't mess up. The Ball State formula and the 207 minus 70% of my age formula gave me numbers that weren't too far apart and that were between the other two.
I'm inclined to believe that one of these two, the Ball State and the 207 minus 70% of your age, is the most reliable. The Ball State formula gave me a slightly lower number, so I'll probably play it safe and go with that one.
Then you just need to calculate your target zones.
I'm don't claim to be an expert and I'm certainly not a doctor, but those are my own personal thoughts and conclusions.
Formulas for max heart rate are useless, as there is way too much individual variation for any formula to be accurate. The only way to determine your max heart rate is through testing. You can either do a monitored stress test (which would be advisable in your situation) or simply observe your heart rate when riding hard to get a close approximation.

In my own case, I'll be 62 shortly and my max heart rate is somewhere above 186, which is the max I observed this past year when doing hill sprints. None of the formulas you cited are anywhere close to this. I also ride with people who have very low max heart rates, but are strong riders. In their case, the max rates from the formulas would be dangerously high or simply unachievable.

Forget the formulas and learn about your body. That's what you need to know

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