Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Max Heart Rate?

There are several formulas for determining your maximum heart rate. Most are so generic that sometimes they are not even in the ball park. They are generalized for the entire population.

Let’s run through a few with my numbers (these are from wikipedia) – Age = 37 (MHR = Max Heart Rate)

MHR = 220 - AGE -> 183

MHR = 206.3 – (0.711 * AGE) -> 180.4

MHR = 217 – (0.85 * AGE) -> 180.0

MHR = 208 – (0.7 * AGE) -> 182.1

The following are from Sally Edwardsand for me seem to be the most accurate - (although a few years old her Heart Zone Trainingbook is very good).

Males: MHR = 210 – (AGE * .5) – (WEIGHT * .05) + 4 -> 187.5

Females: MHR = 210 – (AGE * .5) – (WEIGHT * .01) + 0
Max heart rates vary substantially from individual to individual. I have known blazing fast runners whose heart rates never got out of the 150’s and I have also known people with sky high heart rates. Also, maximum heart rates do not vary much over time. This is a genetic determined value. In addition, as long as you are fit your maximum heart rate will not decline as you age.

Furthermore, maximum heart rates are sports specific.  I cannont come close to my running max heart rate while biking.  There is about a 10 BPM difference.

Also from Sally Edwards:
Max HR is genetically determined; in other words, you're born with it.
Max HR does not reflect your level of fitness
Max HR is a fixed number, unless you become unfit.
Max HR cannot be increased by training.
Max HR does not decline with age.
Max HR only declines with age in sedentary individuals.
Max HR tends to be higher in women than men.
Max HRs that are high do not predict better athletic performance.
Max HRs that are low do not predict worse athletic performance.
Max HR has great variability among people of the same age.
Max HR does not vary from day to day, but it is test-day sensitive.
Max HR testing requires the person to be fully rested.
Max HR testing needs to be done multiple times to determine the exact number.
I have observed 194 BPM several times at the end of all out efforts. These were always race situations with an all out sprint to the finish. If you remember, my last 5k race (the Pump and Run) ended in a no holds barred straight away slug fest with Board Shorts. This was the hardest that I have ever sprinted – period. Further examination of the race data shows that my maximum heart rate is actually higher than the value that I have been using. The reading towards the end of that race showed 200 BPM (on garmin connect and 199 on sporttracks - either way it is about 5 beats per minute higher than I have ever seen).

I believe it – there were no power lines or other means of interference. On top of that I had to sit down at the end of that race. I guess that I had just not been in a situation to really push to the limit. Now I need to reevaluate my training zones.

Pump and Run Heart Rate profile

FYI - DC Rainmaker is giving away a really cool scale!


Matty O said...

GREAT POST! I have been learning more and more on heart rate and agree that the "max heart rate" from wikipedia is NOT too acccurate. I have exceeded mine in training a few times already.

I always do an all out sprint for the last 3/8 to 1/2 mile and this is where I expect to see one heck of a spike.

I am going to save this post for my reference. Thanks again!

Jon said...

Thats why I hate using max heart rate, because its really hard to determine. Finding your threshold heart rate is so much better, because you are either training above it to raise it, or staying below it to stay aerobic or to recover.

JBM said...

thanks for the info! i have been trying to learn more and more about hr training

Patrick Mahoney said...

Thanks man this is excellent research and really excellent stuff.

lindsay said...

Pretty cool stuff. I use a max HR from a 2-mile race I did a few years ago (201). I figured it was an appropriate distance/effort to base off of, and I haven't had a chance to try and calc a new one in another race. (I don't see myself pushing all-out on a training run ya know?)