The Walkablock Club
Monthly Fitness Articles
"November 99"


Dial In Your Heart Rate

By Michelle Gagnon

There’s a secret   to getting the most out of your cardiovascular workouts, whether you walk, run, skate, or hangglide. It involves determining your “Target Heart Rate,” (THR) the level at which your body most efficiently either burns fat or strengthens your heart. Far too frequently, people push themselves above their ideal threshold, at which point they are working “anaerobically.”
Anaerobic training is fine for weightlifting, but when you want to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular capacity, you need to find the correct range specific to your body.
The easiest way to determine your own personal THR is through “Karvonen’s Formula.

Karvonen’s Formula

Target Heart Range (THR) = (Max Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate) x (.60 to .80) + Resting Heart Rate
Never fear: it looks a lot more complicated than it is. Here’s how to break it down:

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): The predicted MHR is 220 minus your age, simple as that.
The scientific basis for this section of the formula is that your maximum heart rate as an infant is 220 beats per Minute. You lose one heartbeat per minute for every year that you age.
Interesting and depressing, all at the same time.

Resting Heart Rate (RHR): The most accurate way to determine your resting heart rate is to take your pulse First thing in the morning before you get out of bed (take a 10 second pulse and multiply that Number by six.) You can take this pulse either at the carotid artery in the neck, or at the wrist.
Do this for 3 days in a row, then add those numbers together and divide by 3 to get the average.
This number signifies the RHR that is specific to you.

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR): The first part of Karvonen’s Formula, MHR-RHR, results in a number that Signifies your Heart Rate Reserve.

.60 to .80: When burning fat is your goal, you want to work at 60-70% of your Heart Rate Reserve. To strengthen your heart, you want to work at 70-80% of the Heart Rate Reserve.
Therefore, you multiply the HRR by .60 and .70 to determine your range if you want to burn fat, and by .70 and .80 if you want to up your cardiovascular capacity.

Lastly, you add the RHR to your two totals (HRR x .60 & .70, or HRR x .70 & .80) to get the grand total.
This target heart rate should be your goal while exercising; you can monitor it either with a heart rate monitor, such as the Polar “Target” monitor, or simply by taking your pulse intermittently.
Just in case your eyes began to glaze over halfway through this article, I used my own numbers as an example:

MHR: 220 – 28 (my age) = 192
RHR: 58	
My HRR: 192 – 58 = 134
134 x .6 = 80………….80 + 58 = 138
134 x .7 = 94 …………94 + 58 = 152
134 x .8 = 107 ……….107 + 58 = 165

To burn fat,    I should train at 138 to 152 beats per minute
To work my heart,   I should train at 152 to 165 beats per minute.

Personally, I alternate between these two ranges to derive benefits from each. I hope this proves helpful. I am frequently asked, “How fast should I go when I’m running on the treadmill/ walking my dog/ practicing the luge?” This formula provides the most accurate guide that we have so far to determining the correct heart rate for each individual.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) can help you to find an ACE certified trainer in your area. They can be contacted at either, or by calling 1.800.825.3636.

Visit Michelle at: