The target heart rate (THR) equation is a quick, easy method of finding a heart rate range or zone for aerobic exercise.
What Should I Use as My Target Heart Rate?
There are three primary THR ranges you can use, depending on your fitness goals (see explanations below):
- Low Intensity [60%-70% of Max Heart Rate (HR Max)]
- Medium Intensity (70%-80% of HR Max)
- High Intensity (80% of HR Max and Above)
Lower intensity exercise can be performed for a longer period of time, whereas higher intensity exercise duration is much shorter.
Low Intensity, Long Duration (LILD)
This method of aerobic exercise involves maintaining a lower heart rate for a longer period of time. LILD exercise may result in less muscle breakdown, which may be beneficial if several intense workouts are performed each week.
High Intensity, Short Duration (HISD)
This method of aerobic exercise involves maintaining a higher heart rate for a shorter period of time, such as HIIT training or Guerilla training. HISD exercise provides greater cardiovascular benefit and increases anaerobic work capacity which may be especially useful for athletes who engage in explosive sports. HISD exercise may also yield a greater amount of calories if post exercise caloric consumption is included.
How Do I Measure Heart Rate?
Some cardio equipment may contain some type of heart rate monitor. However, if it does not, or you are not using a machine, you may monitor your heart rate by checking your own pulse. While you could count pulse for a full minute, it may be easier to check the pulse for 10 second intervals periodically throughout the exercise session to monitor heart rate. When the number of beats per 10 seconds is determined, one can multiply by 6 to get an estimated number of beats per minute. For example, 25 beats per 10 seconds x 6 = 150 BPM.