This target heart rate calculator helps you decide how strenuous your workout should be. You probably often ask yourself whether your training has any effect at all, or whether it is not dangerous for your health. Now, you don't have to worry any more - you can calculate it quickly with this tool. We will also provide you with a step-by-step explanation of how to calculate the target heart rate (target HR) and with an easily applicable target heart rate formula. Make sure to take a look at the BMI and pace calculators as well.
What is the heart rate and target HR?
Imagine you are hiking in the mountains with your backpack. You feel that walking requires a tiny bit more effort than when you're strolling in the city, but it's not unpleasant. After a while, you start walking up a steep hill. Every step is difficult, you feel the sweat all over your face, and your heart begins to race. Once you've made it to the top, you breathe slowly and feel the exertion calming down. After a while, your heart slows down, too.
What you experienced was a change in the heart rate. It was highest when you were climbing up (your heart was pounding) and lowest after a short rest. To put it simply, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
Target heart rate (target HR) is the heart rate that makes the physical effort most effective. If it's too low, then the exercise won't bring the expected results such as making you more fit. If it's too high, it may be dangerous for you.
How to calculate the target heart rate?
- Begin with measuring your heart rate at rest. It's best to check it in the morning, just after waking up, but before getting our of bed. Put your fingers over your pulse - the best places to measure it are the inside of your wrist, inside of your elbow or the side of your neck. Count the number of beats in 60 seconds. This is your resting heart rate - typically, it should be in between 60 and 100 bpm (beats per minute).
- Once you've done that, calculate your maximum heart rate. It is typically found by subtracting your age from 220. This is an extreme you should never cross.
- Subtract the resting heart rate from the maximum heart rate. The result will be your heart rate reserve.
- Now that you know your heart rate reserve, you can begin to calculate the target heart rate range. It is typically assumed that you should exert yourself to 60% - 70% of your heart rate reserve for fat burning. Our calculator uses these values by default; leave them or modify them as you need.
- The lower bound of the target heart rate range is calculated by adding the resting heart rate to the lower percentage of your heart rate reserve.
- The upper bound of the target heart rate range is calculated by adding the resting heart rate to the higher percentage of your heart rate reserve.
Target heart rate formula
You can also put all of these steps into mathematical equations:
TargetHR = RestingHR + A * Reserve
- TargetHR stands for target heart rate;
- A stands for percentage of heart-rate reserve you use up;
- Reserve stands for heart rate reserve, calculated as
Reserve = MaxHR - RestingHR;
- MaxHR is the maximum heart rate, found as
MaxHR = 220 - Age;
- Age is your age (in years).
Heart rate training
How much of your heart rate reserve should you use exactly? It depends on the type of training. Generally:
- Fat-burning range - 60% to 70%. This kind of training builds a basic foundation of endurance.
- Aerobic range - 70% to 80%. It helps to improve your cardiovascular system.
- Anaerobic range - 80% to 90%. When exercising in this range, you will switch on the lactic acid system.
- Red line range - 90% to 100%. This kind of training develops fast-twitch muscle, but can only be done for short periods.
If you're a cyclist, take a look at the cycling heart rate zone calculator for more precise estimation of the HR zones.