Maximum Heart Rate
Athletes who use a heart rate monitor as a training aid need to identify their actual maximum heart rate in order to determine their appropriate training zones. Maximum heart rate (HRmax) can be determined by undertaking a maximum heart rate stress test which although relatively short does require you to push your body and your heart to the very limit. It can also be predicted using a formula but the variation in actual HRmax of 95% of individuals of a given age will lie within a range of ±20 beats/minute (Gellish 2007).
Calculation of Maximum Heart Rate
The easiest and best known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax) is to use the formula
Dr. Martha Gulati et al
Research conducted by Gulati et al. (2010) identified that the traditional male-based calculation (220-age) overestimates the maximum heart rate for age in women. They investigated the association between heart rate response to exercise testing and age with 5437 women. It was found that mean peak heart rate for women = 206 - (0.88 x age).
Londeree and Moeschberger
A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) from the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates that the HRmax varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. They suggest an alternative formula of
Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) looked at other variables to see if they had any effect on the HRmax. They found that neither sex nor race makes any difference but they did find that the HRmax was affected by the activity and levels of fitness.
Studies have shown that HRmax on a treadmill is consistently 5 to 6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2 to 3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a HRmax 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher HRmax than that which is average for their age.
Miller et al
A paper by Miller et al. (1993) proposed the following formula as a suitable formula to calculate HRmax
Evidence from USA researchers, Jackson et al. (2007), identified the following formula as more accurately reflecting the relationship between age and maximum heart rate.
Research by Whyte et al. (2008) came up with with the following formulae for predicting maximum heart rates in both endurance and anaerobically trained athletes:
Miller, Londeree and Moeschberger
To determine your maximum heart rate you could use the following, which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.
%HRmax and %VO2max
It is possible to estimate your exercise intensity as a percentage of VO2 max from your training heart rate. Swain et al. (1994) using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %HRmax and %VO2max. Their results led to the following regression equation:
The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.
VO2 max - using HRmax and HRrest
Research by Uth et al. (2004) found that VO2 max can be estimated indirectly from an individuals maximum heart rate (HRmax)and resting heart rate (HRrest) with an accuracy that compares favourably with other common VO2 max tests. It is given by:
VO2 and Power
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