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# Heart Rate Training - beginners guide

• Ceepo wrote:
You are aware that, that is the most unreliable way determine max HR, right?

It's a rule of thumb and enough for most training plans.

• For a 25 year old, the difference between the two methods is one beat a minute.

• First Up wrote: »
For a 25 year old, the difference between the two methods is one beat a minute.

.... and if you read the abstract link on the Hunt study you will see that the major finding is that Max HR was found to be underestimated for people over 30 on the old formula (e.g. 220 - Age)

and the OP here had just turned 46.

a good way from 25 and the old formula would give 174 vs 182 (rounded to 182 on Hunt formula) for 46
Previously suggested prediction equations underestimated measured HRmax in subjects older than 30 years.

• glasso wrote:
.... and if you read the abstract link on the Hunt study you will see that the major finding is that Max HR was found to be underestimated for people over 30 on the old formula (e.g. 220 - Age)

Fair enough. If your training plan involves hitting your max, then I suppose it is handy to know it. But most training doesn't need that degree of accuracy.

• I've tried a few methods and found Joe Friel's to be the most accurate way of setting up HR Zones for myself anyway. It's based of LTHR after a 30min time trial rather than some age formula. This gives the zones as
• Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
• Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
• Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
• Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
• Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
• Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
• Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Quick calculator here if you want to try it for yourself: https://datacranker.com/heart-rate-training-zones-calculator/

• glasso wrote: »
.... and if you read the abstract link on the Hunt study you will see that the major finding is that Max HR was found to be underestimated for people over 30 on the old formula (e.g. 220 - Age)

and the OP here had just turned 46.

a good way from 25 and the old formula would give 174 vs 182 (rounded to 182 on Hunt formula) for 46

I'd say the major finding is that all formula are terrible for individual prediction of max hr. The standard error is huge and makes it useless for basing zones off.

For example a 33 year old gives a value of 190 but the standard error range is 180 to 201!
An individual wouldn't know if they are closer to one end or the other. In a group of 10, 3 people will be outside this range altogether!

• glasso wrote: »
there will always be criticisms of formulas (best to get a max test done if really serious about it) and there will always be outliers but I would say that something like the one that I posted above recently

211 - (.64 x Age)

From the Hunt Fitness study of over 3,000 healthy adults of varying ages

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22376273/

would give a "reasonable" approximation of the Max HR for an age

certainly better than the old 220 - Age formula.

How accurate was the HR monitor

• First Up wrote: »
Fair enough. If your training plan involves hitting your max, then I suppose it is handy to know it. But most training doesn't need that degree of accuracy.

You need to know your max so you can set the right training zones.

Doing a max HR test, for anyone that's been running a while and is interested in improving their fitness, is not that difficult and well worth the effort.

I don't really understand people looking for info / advice on heart rate training then using a generic formula to calculate their max hr. Just go out and do a set of 800s off a decent warm up with a couple of mins between each set, last one eyeballs out.

• First Up wrote: »
It's a rule of thumb and enough for most training plans.

If you want to train using HR, using the 220 minus age is worthless.

• Even the 211 - (.64 x Age) formula underestimates my max achieved HR by 6 bpm and I'm no youngster.

• rdhma wrote: »
Even the 211 - (.64 x Age) formula underestimates my max achieved HR by 6 bpm and I'm no youngster.

I’m 60. The formula would suggest a max somewhere between 162-184 for me, allowing for the margin of error of 10.8 mentioned in the linked article. My actual max is 196. OK, I’m an outlier, but even if I wasn’t, that predicted range would be far too wide to be useful for training by HR.

As AGYR says above, you can’t train by HR without accurate numbers, preferably min, max and LT.

That’s what this thread is all about. If you want to know your max, test yourself, and do it properly. All other methods are a waste of time.

• deconduo wrote: »
I've tried a few methods and found Joe Friel's to be the most accurate way of setting up HR Zones for myself anyway. It's based of LTHR after a 30min time trial rather than some age formula. This gives the zones as
• Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
• Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
• Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
• Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
• Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
• Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
• Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Quick calculator here if you want to try it for yourself: https://datacranker.com/heart-rate-training-zones-calculator/

Tks for that

• Does having an accurate max HR really matter that much for most of this? Surely a few BPM over the target zone doesn't invalidate the training, and there are at least 3 sets of HR zone percentages listed in the thread, so even with a 100% accurate max HR there will be differences based on which one of those you go for?

• simonw wrote:
Does having an accurate max HR really matter that much for most of this? Surely a few BPM over the target zone doesn't invalidate the training, and there are at least 3 sets of HR zone percentages listed in the thread, so even with a 100% accurate max HR there will be differences based on which one of those you go for?

Agree. A few percent either way doesn't matter, especially for a beginner.

Start with 220 minus age and go from there. Don't intimidate them with unnecessary science.

• First Up wrote: »
Agree. A few percent either way doesn't matter, especially for a beginner.

Start with 220 minus age and go from there. Don't intimidate them with unnecessary science.
You do like to double down, even when I and othes have pointed out that 220 minus age and other generic formula is worthless.

There are different formula or % of hr training zone's mostly based of different coaches philosophy but are still based of individual max heart. While its true that different zone's are not black and white and there will be a small cross over, its better to have that cross over from YOUR individual max hr rather than 220 minus age for 180 minus age or any other generic formula.

• Ceepo wrote:
You do like to double down, even when I and othes have pointed out that 220 minus age and other generic formula is worthless.

It gives a beginner a structure to start a running programme. It may not be 100% accurate but it is not worthless.

• First Up wrote: »
It gives a beginner a structure to start a running programme. It may not be 100% accurate but it is not worthless.

It’s worthless if it gives you a number that’s too far off your actual max to be useful. The point is that it’s not reliable enough to be of any use, whether you’re a beginner or not. Why would you train by HR without knowing what the figures you see on the monitor actually mean?

• First Up wrote: »
It gives a beginner a structure to start a running programme. It may not be 100% accurate but it is not worthless.

It absolutely is worthless. There is probably little need for a beginner to use HR training. Run lots of easy runs, build milage slowly, introduce some intervals or farlek after a while and be consistent for 6 months. Then when you've done that and are interested in improving your times etc some will look at HR training which can be really helpful for making gains and training for longer milage and more sofisitcsted plans. In order to do that properly you need to have your max HR based off A 5k race, 800s or hill repeats. It's not difficult to do and is the best advice anyone can be given.

• First Up wrote: »
It gives a beginner a structure to start a running programme. It may not be 100% accurate but it is not worthless.

"May not be 100% accurate" as someone who has coached a lot of athlete's and triathletes over the past 15 or so years, I can honest say that in all that time I've never seen it to be accurate for even one of them.
And while a beginner or even seasoned runner doesn't need to train using heart rate to achive good results, if they are to use heart rate then they should work from zones from there max heart or lactate tested vo2 max

Anything else is just a waste of time.

• 220-61=159 for me.

I've averaged 165 for a parkrun. 165bpm over 30 minutes. MHR was 173.

220-age is the crudest of crude estimates.

• Murph_D wrote:
Itâ€™s worthless if it gives you a number thatâ€™s too far off your actual max to be useful. The point is that itâ€™s not reliable enough to be of any use, whether youâ€™re a beginner or not. Why would you train by HR without knowing what the figures you see on the monitor actually mean?

How inaccurate does the science show the 220 minus age formula to be?

• Pherekydes wrote: »
220-61=159 for me.

I've averaged 165 for a parkrun. 165bpm over 30 minutes. MHR was 173.

220-age is the crudest of crude estimates.

Just to add for another reference,
My last 5k (which i dont normally take as a max hr due to levels of fatigue, I personal prefer 800's)
Avg hr was 179, max 192 @ age 49.

So run at 90% of my true max would have me at the same 171 that 220 minus age would give me. 90% of the generic formula 171 would have me at running at 154. Which would be pointless for any intended training effect,

• Pherekydes wrote: »
220-61=159 for me.

I've averaged 165 for a parkrun. 165bpm over 30 minutes. MHR was 173.

220-age is the crudest of crude estimates.

Interestingly, that other formula has you at 172 for MHR

• First Up wrote: »
How inaccurate does the science show the 220 minus age formula to be?

Did you research it?

• glasso wrote: »
I did say that accuracy could depend on versions. OP didn't say what version he has.

it's not accurate in the case of the OP as having a max HR of 197 at 47 is extremely unlikely.

46 (and only just )

It’s an Apple Watch 3 series. I still believe it is was fairly accurate. I looked back over the last months and I often hit over 190.

I’ve set my max at 195. (Was 197 on my test)

The Polar HR strap arrived today.
It definitely reads a lot more data points ... it is more reactive to changes of pace as a result. The watch felt a few seconds behind if that makes sense.

But I am not sure the AW is all that inaccurate in its readings.

Not planning another Max Heart rate test - but will keep an eye on the readings from the strap. Have some intense intervals planned for later on the week so should know better then.

• First Up wrote: »
Agree. A few percent either way doesn't matter, especially for a beginner.

Start with 220 minus age and go from there. Don't intimidate them with unnecessary science.
"An average 5k time for a beginner is 35 minutes, so set your training paces off that and go from there"

TBH, no beginner should be anywhere near a HR-based plan anyway. There's about a million things to learn about running before then (finding, and understanding, a "conversational pace" being top of the list). But if you are going to start off with a HR plan, actually follow it. No HR plan (except a terrible one) is going to start with "base your HR zones off 220-age", just like no pace-based plan is going to start with "base your paces off a 35 minutes 5k".

Applying the formulas to a single person is an abuse of the science behind them - they were never designed to be used for an individual

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• First Up wrote: »
How inaccurate does the science show the 220 minus age formula to be?

At this point I’m starting to think you’re just having a laugh. I won’t do the work for you - you can research it yourself. It’s not hard. But the answer is, very inaccurate.

• Murph_D wrote:
At this point Iâ€™m starting to think youâ€™re just having a laugh. I wonâ€™t do the work for you - you can research it yourself. Itâ€™s not hard. But the answer is, very inaccurate.

I had assumed you had the numbers to hand seeing as your condemnations of it are so emphatic. I haven't researched it because I don't think it's that important.

A rough calculation that helps set a target for a range of paces is enough for someone starting out. I've used it for a long time for middle distance up to marathons. It's true I don't have many medals but there might be other reasons for that.

We had a simple question from a beginner. I gave a simple answer but if you think it has to be more complicated, then spout away.

• First Up wrote: »
I had assumed you had the numbers to hand seeing as your condemnations of it are so emphatic. I haven't researched it because I don't think it's that important.

A rough calculation that helps set a target for a range of paces is enough for someone starting out. I've used it for a long time for middle distance up to marathons. It's true I don't have many medals but there might be other reasons for that.

We had a simple question from a beginner. I gave a simple answer but if you think it has to be more complicated, then spout away.

But its not complicated, just do that 800's that was posted earlier in the thread. ( Imo the best field test).

If you want rough pace calculations, then you don't need to train using hr, just use a pace calculator, but even to use a pace calculator you will need to do some type of test like a 3k or 5k race or tt to ascertain your right training pace, sure you wouldn't just put in any old arbitrary number, otherwise you wouldn't be be using the right training zones.
Or train by perceived effort.