He’s got a lot of heart

Thetford 1097Heart Rate Monitors.  I have seen many people wearing, using, and misunderstanding these devices.  In the right hands they can be a valuable tool, but in the wrong hands they can do as much damage as good.  Let’s talk about the fundamental principle of the thing, and how some can go astray.

Your maximum heart rate is the foundation of all the zones you hear about in HR training.  If you feel compelled to use a heart rate monitor, please be aware of these few facts as they pertain to your maximum heart rate.   First, you can not match your maximum heart rate to your friends, or even his friends, it’s all yours.  It’s as personal as your finger prints, it is genetically determined; in other words, you’re born with it, its a bio marker, it’s your individual number.

A few more things about MHR you will also want to remember: 

Max HR does not reflect your level of fitness
Max HR is sensitive to certain variables such as altitude, drugs, and medication.
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 HR’s that are high do not predict better athletic performance.
Max HR’s that are low do not predict worse athletic performance.
Max HR has great variability among people of the same age.
Max HR for children is frequently measured at over 200 bpm.
Max HR cannot be accurately predicted by any mathematic formula.
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

If you are inclined to use a formula for MHR the one listed below has been shown to be far more accurate than most.  

Take 210 subtract  50% of your age minus 5% of your body weight (pounds) + 4 if male and + 0 if female