Talk about Heart rate: What does Max HR have to do with Training?

By Physiotherapist, Paulina Backiel



What is Heart Rate?

Your heart rate is the speed at which your heart contracts, usually measured in beats per minute. The rate at which the heart beats is strongly dependent on the body’s need to increase oxygen consumption or decrease carbon dioxide.


The normal heart rate at rest for a healthy adult is 60-100 beats per minute.


So, what happens when we exercise?

When we exercise, our body uses more oxygen, which creates a need for more oxygen to be consumed faster. After using oxygen, the body then creates carbon dioxide as waste that has to be expelled. For example, when you are running, your body needs more oxygen at a faster rate than resting to keep you moving and to feed your muscles that are working. At the same time, it is creating waste such as carbon dioxide that has to be excreted. Therefore, your heart rate adjusts to the body’s needs, increasing its overall rate to allow oxygen to enter the body more rapidly.


What is Maximal Heart Rate (Max HR)?

The medical dictionary defines Max HR as “the age-related number of beats per minute of the heart when working at its maximum that is usually estimated as 220 minus one’s age.”


In other words, this is the equation that defines Max HR:


220 – Age = Max HR


Example: A 32-year-old. 

220-32 = 188

188 is this person’s Max HR.


To exercise safely, the American Heart Association recommends exercising with a target heart rate of 50 to 75% of your Max HR for both beginners and for moderately intense exercise.

Here’s a helpful chart to assist you in calculating your Max HR:

Age in years Target heart rate (bpm) Maximum heart rate (bpm)
20 100–170 200
30 95–162 190
35 93–157 185
40 90–153 180
45 88–149 175
50 85–145 170
60 80–136 160



If you want to learn more about your personalized HR zones and get running better and smarter, click HERE to get yourself started with a personalized running program led by me. I will guide you through all that you need to know in order to improve your overall running skills!

Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay tuned for my next blog on Run Train Zones.

Your physio,