If you are like me you may be wondering why people in fitness circles always talk about their maximum heart rate. What bearing does it have on your fitness regime? Is it really relevant or just a buzzword that people like to use? The best way of describing your maximum heart rate is that it is used to express training intensity.
Your Maximum heart rate is the highest number of heartbeats per minute (bpm) during your maximum physical exertion. Basically when you are really pushing yourself. Everyone is different and it varies because of age, hereditary factors, and fitness level. This is the rate you do not want to be at for very long if at all.
You calculate your maximum heart rate so you can then train at percentages below it to achieve your fitness goals. So let us say you are 35. Your maximum heart rate would be around 185 bmp. For a fit person you may be aiming at around 85% of your MHR to keep your fitness up. You don’t have to watch it constantly as most people can tell by how they feel. The American Heart Association website states “If it’s too low, and the intensity feels “light” or “moderate/brisk,” you may want to push yourself to exercise a little harder.” That sounds about right to me.
The original way to calculate maximum heart rate “HRmax” was by using the the formula: 220 – age, so a 40 year old would have a HRmax of 180. The formula has lost favor in recent years but is still used as a rule of thumb. The only accurate way to assess your maximum heart rate is on a treadmill or stationary bike under the supervision of a cardiologist or exercise physiologist so for most of us working out a rough guide will be good enough.