Target Heart Rate Formula: Calculate, Estimate and Measure Your Maximum Heart Rate

Target Heart Rate Formula

Calculate, estimate, and measure your maximum heart rate using the target heart rate equation.

The Methods

Formulas for Target Heart Rate

Two formulas are used to calculate the target heart rate. 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

Karvonen Method Target Heart Rate Calculation

The Karvonen method was devised by a Scandinavian physiologist and is 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.


The Zoladz method determines exercise zones by subtracting values from HRmax.

Formula Abbreviations

HR = Heart Rate
Max HR = Maximum Heart Rate
HRmax = Maximum Heart Rate
HRrest = Resting Heart Rate
THR = Target Heart Rate
BPM = Beats Per Minute

♥ 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

Zoladz Method Target Heart Rate Equation

♥ 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.

The Reserve

Heart Rate Reserve for Determining Target Heart Rate

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 the 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.

Help for You

More Than Your Target Heart Rate Calculations

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