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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Heart Rate Zones

So my MHR (maximum heart rate) is higher than I thought it was – so what? Well, my heart rate training zones are now off by a fair amount. It is time to recalculate them. On a side note, there are other ways to determine your training zones that do not employ your MHR but that it for another time. The formulas that I am going to take a look at each require an accurate MHR. You can obtain your MHR from testing, observation or by estimating. Like I mentioned earlier I have recently seen a new MHR from the pump and run race a couple of weeks ago. FYI – resting heart rate is your heart rate taken early in the morning before you get out of bed. This value can be one parameter in quantifing fitness.

I am going to use the following values for the calculations: MHR (max heart rate) = 200, RHR (resting heart rate) = 40, HRR (heart rate reserve = MHR – RHR) = 160, Age = 47.

I was going to go into detail and list several different ways to calculate heart rate zones based on MHR, however, I have decided to only list the method that I prefer – the Karvonen method. This method uses your RHR to help determine your fitness level. Since most athletes have lower resting heart rates the zones are calculated higher. The formula is as follows:

Zone 1: Overdistance, strength = 136 - 152
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .60 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .70 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 2: Endurance, strength = 153 - 160
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .71 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .75 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 3: Endurance, strength = 161 - 168
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .76 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .80 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 4: Intervals, hills, race/pace = 169 - 184
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .81 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .90 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 5: Racing, speed = 185 - 200
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .91 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * 1.0 + Resting Heart Rate

So what does this mean? One of the main training zones that I use is Zone 4. Previously this was calculated with a MHR of 194 and gave the spread as 163 – 178 BPM – about 5 beats per minute less than the new calculation 169 – 184 BPM.
This zone is where I like to do tempo runs, most of my triathlon runs and my half marathon runs. This is my hard effort. Over the past year I have noticed that I am able to run hard at or around 172 but if I let my heart rate drift up around 175 or higher the effort is greatly intensified. I can only manage a few miles when my heart rate drifts much higher in this level. I think the zones calculated with the new MHR make since. I had already adjusted my paces northward but the math reinforces my observations.

5 comments:

  1. Thats interesting. From the short period that I have been watching my HR I have noticed that I am floating on the upper band of the zones I calculated using wikipedia earlier.

    I think these (higher) ranges fit me much better.

    I can tell you have done quite a bit of research on all of this from reading previous posts about your training this past winter. I also know that after you know your body and fitness level, you can tell where you are at. I plan on playing around this summer and hitting my training levels and then evaluating my heart rate for those workouts to see if it matches up with what I had calculated.

    Great post again, I find the technical posts pretty interesting!

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  2. I've tracked my RHR daily before as an indicator of how I'm handling training load, but I don't know my MHR. I should find that out!

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  3. Great post, I had done quite a bit of research on HR training last year, found out my ranges by doing a lactate threshold test, because I've always had a fairly high heart rate, so I was never sure if the actual calculations were accurate. They ended up being on a little low, but not as far off as I expected. I haven't checked my RHR in a while though, thanks for the reminder! :)

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  4. it's been SO ONG since I've sorted my zones...once my polar crapped out on me, I jsut went ol school and trained by "feel"....and it's been working for me thus far...but DAMndo I miss my gadgets and data...hahaha. Good shtuff

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  5. The Karvonen method of determining training hr is definitely the best formula. Simply b/c it factors in your rhr. That was one of the subjects drilled into my head in exercise phys class in college...gotta love that stuff! The more fit you are, the lower your rhr usually, so tweaking your zones is in order periodically. Nice post!

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