Maximum Heart Rate Calculations Get an Overhaul for Women
Have you ever worked out struggling to keep in your target heart rate zone to no avail? (she says with both arms raised high). The ever-so-awesome Katie sent me this article: Recalibrated Formula Eases Women’s Workouts. Thanks Katie!
It seems the old formula for calculating our maximum heart rates was too simplified, and this new version (which is just barely more complex) is the way to go. In the olden days (you know – last week), we would calculate our maximum heart rate by subtracting our age from 220. From there, we would calculate our target heart rate range (to try to maintain during workouts) as 65% to 85% of this number.
According to the ancient calculation, my target heart rate zone would be: 220 – 35 (my age) = 185 times 65% and 85% to be … 120 to 157, with 157 being my “target heart rate” for a good workout.
According to the modern day calculation, as a woman, my target heart rate zone would be: 206 – (35 x 88%) = 175 times 65% and 85% to be … 114 to 149, with 149 being my “target heart rate” for a good workout.
I think they are getting a wee bit closer, but this still seems a bit oversimplified to me. It doesn’t take into consideration any other factors like resting heart rate, fitness level, size/weight, altitude (yes, it matters!), etc. My resting heart rate is quite low, usually in the 50’s, and my heart rate recovers very quickly. If I manage to get it up around 150, it is down to 110 to 120 within 1 minute, and 100 or lower within 2 minutes. For me to maintain a heart rate over 140 during a workout is very difficult.
And such is my journey with Insanity. In this program the intervals often have my heart rate up over 150 for several minutes (during the 30 second breaks it usually goes down quite a bit). In an optimal workout, one should feel tired, but good afterward. You’ve all heard of runner’s high right? A good workout typically leaves me feeling a bit of energy. Insanity does not. It is the first time (aside from long tournaments or big hikes) that I have ever just wanted to plop down on the couch after a workout. And these aren’t super-long or particularly challenging workouts – just high cardio for prolonged periods.
To me, this says I am working out for too long of stretches at a heart rate that is too high. It seems some of the scientists agree with me:
“But many researchers say it is ridiculous to base exercise goals on a person’s age rather than individual fitness level.
Dr. Church says that except for elite athletes heart rate monitoring is not very useful and can distract from finding an exercise program you enjoy and will stick to. “Everyone kind of has their own natural pace,” Dr. Church says. “If you like to work a little harder, then work harder. If you like to work less hard but a little longer, then do that. Find what works for you.”
You can read the full article here.
So what do you think? Does the new calculation offer some relief to your goals? Do you monitor your heart rate while exercising? Do you find it hard to stick with workout routines?
FYI – I am very old school. I have low blood pressure with a soft pulse, so heart rate monitors don’t work. I use the old fingers on the neck and clock watching (count for 10 seconds then multiply by 6), which seems to be pretty accurate.
Wednesday – 40-45 min Plyo / Cardio from Insanity, 2 Mile Walk.
Thursday – Recovery Day, 1.5 Mile Walk.