Target heart rate
Updated - check out our new target heart rate calculator!
Calculate the heart rate that corresponds to a specified intensity. Instant switch between using maximal heart rate or the more advanced heart rate reserve.
1. Choose whether you want the calculation based on percentage of maximum heart rate or as a percentage of the heart rate reserve (see below for explanation)
2. Enter values into the calculator by turning the dials. If you don't know your resting and maximal heart rate, look for further explanation in the text below the calculator.
Note that the heart is pulsing with a frequency that equals the displayed target heart rate.
Heart rate zones
|Heart rate reserve intensity||
Max heart rate intensity equivalent
|Benefit of the zone|
|25 - 40 %||50 - 60 %||General physical activity. You can endure this intensity all day long. Good for your health, but only if you do it for a long time.|
|40 - 70 %||60 - 80 %||Moderate exercise. Good for calorie burning, because you can do this for several hours depending on the activity.|
|70 - 85 %||80 - 90 %||Fairly intense exercise. Improves your aerobic capacity. Effective for calorie burning, but most people can only do this for less than an hour.|
|85 - 100 %||90 - 100 %||Very intense exercise. Improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Typically interval, sprint and elite training.|
Exercise guidelines are often given as a certain intensity and duration of a specific aerobic exercise activity. As heart rate monitoring is widely available - often build in to exercise equipment, it is relevant to calculate the target heart rate for a specific intensity.
Exercise intensity is normally expressed as a percentage of your maximal heart rate, but it can also be expressed as a percentage of your heart rate reserve. The latter is more precise, but also a bit more complicated as it takes your resting heart rate into account. The rationale behind using heart rate reserve is that you will never be able to exercise at a heart rate that is lower than your resting heart rate. Therefore resting heart rate should equal an intensity of 0%.
The formulas are as follows:
Target heart rate using max HR = intensity(%) x max HR
Target heart rate using HR reserve = intensity(%) x (max HR - resting HR) + resting HR
How to find your maximal heart rate:
The best way to measure it is by running. Run for about 10 minutes at a comfortable pace for warm up. Thereafter increase speed gradually over several minutes until you feel close to your limit. At that point you should increase pace for the next 30 seconds to your absolute maximum - preferably running up a hill. Just before you stop, take a look at your heart rate monitor. That should give you your maximal heart rate.
You can also make an estimate by using the formula: max HR = 220 - age
- but note that there is some uncertainty to this estimate.
How to find your resting heart rate:
After waking up in the morning, but before getting out of bed check your heart rate using a heart rate monitor or check it manually by counting your pulse at the neck or at the wrist for 60 seconds.
You can also use these guidelines:
Elite athlete: 40 bpm
Very good shape: 50 bpm
Good shape: 60 bpm
Poor shape: 70 bpm
Extremely poor shape: 80 bpm