This target heart rate calculator helps you to decide how strenuous your workout should be. You may have had times in the past where you asked yourself, "Is my training has any effect at all?", or have questioned whether your exercise regime is dangerous to your health. 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 your 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 to get a full picture of your health and stamina.

What is the heart rate and target HR?

Imagine you are hiking in the mountains with your backpack. You feel that this walk 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 pouring down your face, and your heart begins to race. Once you've made it to the top, you breathe slowly and feel your body returning to normal. After a while, your heart slows down, too.

What you experienced was a change in your 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 at which physical effort is the most effective. If it's too low, then the exercise won't bring the expected results, such as making you fitter. If it's too high, it may be dangerous for you.

How to calculate the target heart rate?

  1. Begin with measuring your heart rate at rest. It's best to check it in the morning, just after waking up, but before getting out 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Subtract your resting heart rate from the maximum heart rate. The result will be your heart rate reserve.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 pieces of data into a mathematical equation:

TargetHR = RestingHR + A * Reserve


  • TargetHR stands for target heart rate;
  • A stands for the 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 your HR zones.

Bogna Haponiuk

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