This Target Heart Rate Calculator is for anyone who takes his health and fitness seriously, because hitting the target heart rate is very important. So, how do you find your ideal heart rate during exercise, why should you care for it and how do you manage it? You can find information about all this, and more in the post below.

Since health and sport are connected, more interesting health related calculators you can find in our health category, such as GCS Calculator, or Glycemic Index Calculator, but also check this Glycemic Load Calculator. Further, there is a Heart Score Calculator and Cycling Heart Rate Zone, if you want to know more about that subject, which is related to this post. On the other hand, if you are interested in baseball, check this Earned Run Average post.

Target Heart Rate – Definition

The target heart rate is the heart rate you should have during exercise in order to maximize performance, longevity, health, and progress. But why should someone who is into fitness care about this? First, we need to make a distinction between two types of exercise: anaerobic (Latin for “without air”) and aerobic (Latin for “with air”).

Anaerobic exercise

Anaerobic exercise refers to any physical activity that breaks down glucose without using any air. While this might seem strange, you’ve probably done it many times. Generally, anaerobic exercises are short in length and high in intensity. This includes stuff like weight lifting, sprinting, jumping rope, and, obviously, high-intensity interval training, which are shorter workouts that use a lot of energy. However, your heart rate will not go too high during these exercises.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise refers to any physical activity that is longer, but less intense, such as jogging or endurance cycling. It is colloquially called cardio, which is short for cardiovascular training (training the heart). In relation to this, there is also a test for cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance, Bruce Protocol METs, and you can educate yourself on this subject.

Essentially, every aerobic activity goes on for a longer period of time, and, as a result, your body needs oxygen in order to sustain muscle activity. Because of this, you will breathe more, and, to keep up with the lungs, the heart will also work faster – more beats per minute.

The higher the level of your exercise, the faster your heart will beat. However, an unnecessarily high level will also cause health problems, as it will put an unhealthy strain on your heart and lungs. This is why you need to keep within the bounds of your desired heart rate.

Aerobic exercises are very good for the health of your respiratory and your cardiovascular systems, and your physical and mental health in general. In fact, performing aerobic exercises at a high enough level regularly will decrease your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other health conditions, and overall improve your health. By high level, I mean workouts where you hit your target heart rate. Physical exercise is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to take care of their health.

Many people would say fitness revolves around aerobic exercise, however, this is not true, as fitness involves both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Target Heart Rate Calculation – Formula

So, how do you find your desired heart rate? There are two ways to do this. Both of them involve using the maximum heart rate as a reference.

In the first formula, which is the easier one, you use a simpler method of calculating your maximum heart rate, which is to subtract your age from 220. So, the maximum heart rate for a 13-year-old would be:

220-13=207

The THR would be between 50% and 80% of the maximum heart rate:

0.5 \cdot 207 = 103.5 \\ 0.8 \cdot 207 = 165.6 \\ \text {The THR is 103.5-165.6}

Our calculator uses a different, more complex formula for calculating the desired heart rate, which is:

\text {THR} = \text {RHR} + (220-\text {age}-\text {RHR}) \cdot \text {desired training intensity}

RHR is the resting heart rate, i.e. the heart rate you have when you’re not in the middle of an activity. A good time to check it is in the morning, right after you wake up. For a healthy adult, it should be between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

The Desired Training Intensity

The desired training intensity is expressed in percentages and it represents how intense you want your exercise to be. Most people with a developed fitness program already know what they want their intensity to be. However, if you’re new to fitness, you need some fresh information. It is recommended that, during aerobic exercise, you want to go between 55% and 85%. Your warm-ups and cooldowns should be below 70%, while the middle part should be above 70%, although you are free to search for more information about this topic.

So, for a 23-year-old, who wants to exercise at an intensity of 65%, the THR would be:

\text {THR} = 70 + (220-23-70) \cdot 0.65 = 152.55

If you want to be extra thorough with your exercise plan, you need to search for information on the internet, and perhaps consult with an expert.

Average Target Heart Rate by Age – Chart

As we said, this generalized data should not be followed down to a T, because its only reference point is age, but it is a good starting point. With that said, you can find information on the average THR according to age in the form of a chart below.

AgeMaximum Heart Rate (BPM)Target Heart Rate (BPM)
20200100-160
2519597.5-156
3019095-152
3518592.5-148
4018090-144
4517587.5-140
5017085-136
5516582.5-132
6016080-128
6515577.5-124
7015075-120

What if you are exercising below your target heart rate zone?

Exercising below your desired heart rate will not carry with itself bad connotations for your health. It is not recommended because you will, simply put, not make much progress. In short, you are not pushing your body to its limits and not improving your health much.

If you walk at a faster pace for half an hour, it could be considered exercise, however, you won’t feel as tired as if you ran for half an hour. Your heart rate will not hit its required zone and as a result, you will not have progressed much. If you care about progress, you need to work harder and have a higher heart rate during exercise. Once you do this, your health is definitely going to improve, as well as your stamina.

If you wonder what a pace is, then head to this Marathon Pace Calculator to learn more.

What is a good target heart rate for a stress test?

A cardiac stress test is a method used to measure how healthy a person’s heart is, by measuring how it responds to physical exercise in a controlled clinical environment. Essentially, hitting your THR, according to the chart above, during your cardiac stress test is good. Of course, the medical health care provider who is with you during the test will give you information about the health of your heart, and how well you performed.

According to Medline, the test goes on until one of these things happens:

  • You reach your THR
  • You develop chest pain or a change in your blood pressure that is concerning
  • ECG changes suggest that your heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen
  • You are too tired or have other symptoms, such as leg pain, that keep you from continuing

For more information about the procedure, you can check out the article on Medline.

Target Heart Rate Tips

For crafting your perfect exercise plan, you need to search for information by yourself. You should make sure your research is based on trusted sources.

If you’re not sure how to plan your exercise in order to reach a high enough level, let me give you some tips to help you out. Obviously, the more intense your exercise is, the higher your heart rate will be. So, in order to stay within the desired range, you need to use some sort of heart rate monitor. It can either be built-in on the treadmill, stepper, or bike you use or an auxiliary device such as your phone.

At first, it may be difficult to keep your heart rate in the desired range, but practice makes perfect. The more you exercise, the better you will be at managing your heart rate, and the better your health will be. So don’t be afraid if the first few exercise rounds don’t go well, as there is a first time for everything. By exercising, you are keeping good care of your physical and mental health, which is priceless.

If you stay close to your maximum heart rate or even hit your maximum heart rate too much, that should be a sign that you need to slow down.

Target Heart Rate Calculator – How to Calculate?

If you’re trying to calculate your THR, the easiest way to do it is with our calculator. As I mentioned previously, the formula our calculator uses is:

\text {THR} = \text {RHR} + (220-\text {age}-\text {RHR}) \cdot \text {desired training intensity}

Checking your resting heart rate is very simple. It is recommended you do it in the morning. The easiest way to do it is to check your pulse, either on your carotid artery, which delivers blood to your neck, or your radial artery, which supplies blood to your forearm and hand. For a healthy adult, the normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute. So, if yours is far above or below this, you might want to visit a doctor.

You also need to know your desired training intensity. For your warm-up and cooldown, you should keep it between 50% and 70%, while the middle should be between 70% and 85%. If you’re just starting, your values should be slightly lower than these, as your heart is not yet ready for a high-intensity workout.

FAQ

How do I calculate my target heart rate?

You can easily calculate your THR with our free calculator.

How long should I be in my target heart rate?

Your aerobic exercise should last about 20-30 minutes. The first and last 7 or 8 minutes should be dedicated to warm-up and cooldown, while the middle should be the intense part.

What is a target heart rate zone?

A THR zone is the zone you should be in during exercise to maximize progress.

What is the target heart rate for teens?

Every person’s needs and possibilities are unique. However, generally speaking, the THR for teens is 102.5-174 beats per minute.

What is a normal target heart rate for a 13-year-old?

For a 13-year-old, the THR should be 105-178 beats per minute.

Why is it important to know your target heart rate?

During exercise, if your heart rate is too low, you won’t make much progress. On the other hand, if it is too high you could damage your heart and lungs. Because of this, it is important to know the perfect range for your target heart rate.