Maximum Heart Rate Calculator
With our HRmax Calculator you can estimate your maximum heart rate based on age and gender. Knowing your own maximum heart rate is important in your own personal exercise training. It is also of great importance for exercise stress testing to uncover cardiovascular disease. Our calculator will only give a rough estimate, and we also give recommendations on how to find your real maximum heart rate with an exhaustive exercise test.
Maximum heart rate (HRmax) is an important tool to uncover cardiovascular disease. During stress testing, age-expected maximum heart rate is used as a guideline for when the test should be concluded. If the test is finished before the load is high enough, you risk not to detect subclinical heart disease. Therefore, it is of great clinical relevance to have a way to accurately estimate HRmax.
The traditional formula for determining HRmax is "220 minus age", but can underestimate HRmax by up to 40 beats per minute in seniors. In fact, the method is inaccurate already at an age of 30–40 years, and gets more inaccurate the older you are.
In The HUNT Fitness Study, we measured accurate maximum heart rate in 3,320 healthy adults aged between 19 and 89. Based on these tests we made a completely new formula which estimates maximum heart rate far more accurately than "220 minus age". The HRmax Calculator is based on this formula: "211 - 0.64*age".
Our HRmax Calculator asks you to check a box if you use beta blockers. The reason for that is that heart patients and others on beta blockers will have a reduced maximum heart rate.
Beta blockers bind to adrenaline receptors and block access for adrenaline molecules. Adrenaline causes the heart to pump both harder and faster. Hence, beta blockers reduce the maximum heart rate. The magnitude of the reduction depends on the dosage, so we recommend that you test yourself to find an exact HRmax.
Our research shows that the variation in maximum heart rate within age groups is fairly large. Genetics contribute more to maximum heart rate than physical fitness. Therefore, it's hard to make a calculator that can estimate maximum heart rate precisely, and we recommend all of you who want to find your real HRmax to test yourself by pushing yourself to exhaustion:
- Warm up thoroughly so you start sweating.
- Do two intervals, each four minutes long. During the intervals you should be too short of breath to talk. Intersperse each interval with three minutes of active rest.
- Start the third interval, but two minutes in, increase your speed even further an run until you're too exhausted to continue. Your HRmax will be the highest heart rate you reach. The heart will reach a plateau at which it cannot beat any faster, regardless of how much you increase the workload.
If you don't have a heart rate monitor, you can measure the maximum heart rate by holding two fingers to your neck for 30 seconds right after finishing the test. Double the number you get to find your HRmax.
During 4x4 interval training, you use your maximum heart rate to give the heart good exercise. Our HRmax Calculator calculates at which heart rate you should exercise when performing this kind of interval training. The 4x4 principle can be used in a variety of activites, including running, biking, swimming and rowing.
- Start with a ten minute warm-up at approximately 60 % of HRmax to get you sweating.
- Do four intervals, each four minutes long. The last two minutes of each interval your heart rate should be at 90–95 % of HRmax, so you become short of breath. Use the first two minutes of each interval to reach this heart rate level.
- Between each interval, your should perform active resting at a heart rate of approximately 70 % of HRmax. This is the zone where the body clears lactic acid most efficiently.
- End with a ten minute cool-down with lighter activity after the last interval.
Watch our video for further explanation on how to perform effective 4x4 interval training:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is maximum heart rate?
Your maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats your heart can manage in one minute.
Why should I know my maximum heart rate
Your maximum heart rate could help you exercise more efficiently. During interval training, for instance, it is useful to know in which pulse zone your heart benefits the most from exercise. Read more.
It is also clinically relevant to find the right maximum heart rate to detect hidden cardiovacular disease during an exercise stress test. Read more.
Why can't I just use "220 minus age"?
The traditional method by subtracting age from 220 to find maximum heart rate is less accurate than our HRmax Calculator. For older persons using "220 minus age" the estimated maximum heart rate could miss by 40 beats! Read more.
How accurate is the HRmax Calculator?
The variation in maximum heart rate within age groups is fairly large. Therefore, it's hard to make a calculator that can estimate maximum heart rate precisely, and we recommend to test yourself with an exercise test to find your real HRmax. Read more.
Does exercise change my maximum heart rate?
No, your HRmax is not related to your physical fitness. An exercised heart pumps more blood each beat, but not faster than untrained hearts.
Which factors determine my maximum heart rate?
Genes and age are the two factors that influence maximum heart rate the most, in addition to medication that affects the heart rhythm. Our research shows that neither gender, smoking nor BMI influences HRmax. Neither does how much you exercise nor your physical capacity.
Why does the HRmax Calculator ask for gender?
Gender has very limited influence on maximum heart rate, but men seem to have marginally higher HRmax than women. That's why gender is included in our calculator.
Why does the HRmax Calculator ask for height and weight?
The HRmax Calculator also includes a BMI calculator. Body weight and height are not part of the formula that estimates your maximum heart rate, but is used to calculate BMI. Values between 18 and 25 are considered normal body weight.
What are beta blockers, and why does the HRmax Calculator ask if I use them?
Beta blockers are medication used for diseases like heart failure, angina and hypertension. Beta blockers inhibit the action of adrenaline, and will therefore lower the heart rate. Read more.
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NTNU, Fakultet for medisin og helsevitenskap
Institutt for sirkulasjon og bildediagnostikk
St. Olavs Hospital
Prinsesse Kristinas gt. 3
Akutten og Hjerte-lunge-senteret, 3. etg.