Calculation of heart rate for running. Target zone

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Why calculate the maximum and minimum heart rate for running workouts and what are pulse zones? Formulas and calculator.

Why calculate the maximum and minimum heart rate for running training and what are heart rate zones?

Pulse rate for fat burning

To begin with, calculating heart rate zones or HR (heart rate) using formulas and calculators is not at all about finding the mythical fat-burning zone. If only because there is no such zone.

To be more precise, the body is constantly in fat-burning mode, not just during a particular period of cardio exercise. Fat is the optimal type of fuel for it. We will not go into more detail on this issue now, but you can read about it in the article: How much running you need to do to lose weight.

So, the first thing to remember is that the calculation of heart rate zones is made solely to find out the safe level of load when running and for the productivity of the workout, not for rapid weight loss.

Target heart rate zone

Different levels of exertion in perspective have different effects on the final results of a workout. Each workout (or part of it) has the goal of going in and staying a set time in a certain heart rate zone, depending on what we want to achieve.

In a generalized classification it is accepted to divide three pulse zones:


Zone 1: 60-70% of max. heart rate (HRmax)

Zone 2: 70%-80% of HRmax

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Zone 3: 80% and more of HRmax


This corresponds to three loading levels: light, medium and heavy (including interval training).

The end result of all training in running or cycling is the ability to maintain a high pace at a lower heart rate for a long time. Therefore, special attention is paid to general endurance and cardiovascular endurance (cardiac stroke volume).

The first and second heart rate zones correspond to this most important requirement, i.e. the load not exceeding 80% of the maximum and allowing you to remain in aerobic mode.

The third heart rate zone is included in training for explosive strength and in preparation for competitions. In other cases, especially for beginner runners, crossing the 80% of HRmax threshold is very undesirable. Heavy and super-heavy levels of exertion can only be considered when you already have a good run and a healthy cardiovascular system.

There are also intermediate target heart rate zones. But this is not so crucial at the amateur level. The only thing that should be mentioned separately is the warm-up mode, which is 50-60% of your heart rate.

Your maximal heart rate

It is better to get this data from a sports lab. There are, of course, formulas and calculators for calculating maximum heart rate and target zones. They give very rough results, because the primitive equations do not take into account your anaerobic threshold, your fitness level, or even your gender.

The most popular formula is:

HRmax = 220 – your age

Using it, you can quickly estimate the maximum allowable load for the average untrained (but healthy) person with a resting heart rate of about 60-70 bpm.

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Another formula is considered to be more accurate:

HRmax = 205.8 – (0.685 * age)

By further calculating the percentages from the resulting number you can roughly figure out at what heart rate you start your main workout and what level of exertion you should try to keep.

But that’s for those who like math. The rest of us can simply insert our age into the heart rate zone calculator:

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The resulting values are the recommended range of training (effective) heart rate, where the higher value is the conditional limit of transition to anaerobic mode. It is not necessary to cross it if you started running not earlier than six months ago.

Recall that such calculations are very rough, and laboratory tests, including PANO, are needed to move into the serious category of runners and cyclists.

Age-specific heart rate chart

There is also a table of target heart rate zones that the Heart Association provides. Here you can see the safe heart rate zones of cardio exercise, otherwise known as the heart health regimen:

The age HR Target Area 50-85% Average maximal heart rate, 100%
20 years 100-170. 200.
30 years. 95-162. 190.
35 years old 93-157. 185.
40 years old 90-153. 180.
45 years 88-149. 175.
50 years 85-145. 170.
55 years. 83-140. 165.
60 years. 80-136. 160.
65 years. 78-132. 155.
70 years old. 75-128. 150.

We have introduced you to the basic calculation methods needed for running (and other cycling) training. Despite the lack of accuracy in the results, you can roughly understand the heart rate ranges. However, to get the full picture, you also need to know all the other physiological nuances unique to your body.

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Heart rate monitoring

It is better to monitor your heart rate not with your hands and a stopwatch, but with a heart rate monitor. The only nuance is that too cheap heart rate monitors work as roughly as heart rate formulas, and radio signals from cheap sensors get confused with each other if you run in a group.

A good running watch costs a lot of money, but if you have already realized that training has become a part of your life, then feel free to buy any model from Garmin or Suunto, you will not regret it. This way you get all the data in a convenient format, easy to analyze and protect your heart from overload.

However, you can rent a heart rate monitor from someone. If it turns out that you spend the whole workout in a heart-friendly mode, and your goal is only to improve your health and control your figure, you can give up this device and continue to run at your pleasure.

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