Resting heart rate


Target Heart Rate 1: General Health - A great deal of research indicates that being active at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, consistently and for a total of 30 minutes on most days, reduces the risk of developing many chronic diseases. Low intensity activities like walking, gardening, household chores or easy cycling will achieve this. If someone does not need to lose body fat and they are not training for a sporting event, this may be all they need to do to stay healthy.

Target Heart Rate 2: Weight management - If your goal is to reduce body fat and you have been relatively inactive, you will need to train at a level of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is still within your comfort zone and allows you to exercise at a steady pace for a long enough time to burn off a substantial number of calories.

Target Heart Rate 3: Aerobic Conditioning/Weight Management - If your goal is to improve your cardio-vascular conditioning for better stamina and endurance, you should train within a zone of 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is also a good zone for fat burning if you are already fairly fit. This heart rate zone represents a more vigorous level of activity.

Target Heart Rate 4: Advanced Conditioning - If you are in top shape and training for a sporting event like a 10km race, a triathlon or tennis, you might need to include some workouts that are 80 percent and above your maximum heart rate. This level of training is both physically and mentally demanding so it is not something you would do on a daily basis. And it is not for everyone. Only the real fit should consider working in the range. This zone is also a fat burning zone if you are extremely fit.

Remember that ideally, your exercise program will include workouts in each of these ranges - short and hard to long and easy.


HR = Heart Rate
Max HR = Maximum Heart Rate
HRmax = Maximum Heart Rate
HRrest = Resting Heart Rate
THR = Target Heart Rate
bpm = beats per minute

Target Heart Rate (THR)

Normally during exercise, the heart rate varies depending on the intensity.   These changes can easily be measured using a radiotelemetry and continuous electocardiogram (ECG) recording. The target heart rate (THR) is the desired range of heart beats per minute that usually elicits the most benefit from working out. It is also known as the training heart rate.  Recommendations for this range are dependent on age, gender, physical condition and one’s previous training.

THR, recording can be stored into the memory of a microcomputer with a transmitter and receiver, which is easily portable and can be worn on the wrist.

Why it is important to know one’s target heart rate.

Target heart rate is used as a tool for exercise prescription. Results from the recordings are important in planning optimal training. This is especially important in athletes and is applicable for anyone else interested in exercise.

Monitoring intensity is also done to avoid over-training and to accurately set max limits; for example, high speed cycling does not accurately indicate the intensity of exercise, hence the monitoring of THR by the prescribed methods.

Medical professional also use heart rate measurements to help diagnose and track medical conditions.

What are the methods for measuring target heart rate?

Two methods are used to calculate the THR. The first method shows the percentage of the maximum heart rate calculated from zero to peak. Method number two represents the heart rate at a specified percentage of maximum MET (VO2max).

Karvonen Method

The Karvonen method was devised by a Scandinavian physiologist and is considered to be the “gold standard”. This method factors the resting heart rate (heart rate reserve) into the equation. Calculations are then made using the difference between a subject’s maximum heart rate and the resting heart rate.


THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × % intensity) + HRrest

Example for someone with a HRmax of 180 and a HRrest of 70:

50% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.50) + 70 = 125 bpm
85% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.85) + 70 = 163 bpm

Zoladz method

The Zoladz method determines exercise zones by subtracting values from HRmax

THR = HRmax – Adjuster ± 5 bpm

Zone 1: Long Slow Run .................Adjuster = 50 bpm
Zone 2: Easy Run ..........................Adjuster = 40 bpm
Zone 3: Tempo Run ......................Adjuster = 30 bpm
Zone 4: Intervals/ Speed Work......Adjuster = 20 bpm
Zone 5: Going All The Way...........Adjuster = 10 bpm

Example for someone with a HRmax of 180:

Zone 1 (easy exercise) : 180 − 50 ± 5 → 125 – 135 bpm
Zone 4 (tough exercise): 180 − 20 ± 5 → 155 – 165 bpm

Heart Rate Reserve

The heart rate reserve is the difference between one’s HRmax and the HRrest. If we take a typical example of someone who’s HRmax is 180, and the HRrest is 100, then heart rate reserve is calculated as:

                      HRmax – HRrest = HR reserve
                      180 – 100 = 80 bpm

The difference references the range of potential training heart rate intensities. This means if one has a large difference, then he/she has a great range of potential training heart rate intensities.