The aerobic training zone that I like to train in is around 70% - 80%. This would be my high-Zone 2 according to the zones that Joe Friel uses in the Triathlete’s Training Bible. In training I would even train at a little lower heart rate just to give myself some room for cardiac drift (when the heart rates rises at the end of a workout due to fatigue). In order to compare these formulas fairly, I will volunteer to be our guinea pig.
Vital Stats: Age – 34 Max Heart Rate – 182 run, 174 bike Resting Heart Rate - 40 Lactate Threshold: 163 run, 156 bike
Key Terms: HR = Heart Rate MHR = Maximum Heart Rate RHR = Resting Heart Rate HRR = Heart Rate Reserve or number of beats between your RHR (resting heart rate) and your MHR (maximum heart rate) BPM = (Beats Per Minute)
The most commonly known way to determine your training zones. We have all seen this one: 220-age = MHR (maximum heart rate) 220-34= 186. 186 x .70 (70% of max) = 130 220-34= 186. 186 x .80 (80% of max) = 148
In this example my Zone 2 aerobic training zones would be from 130-148 BPM.
Another widely accepted method to determine your training zones is this formula. It’s a little more complicated:
The formula is: ((MHR– RHR) x % intensity) + RHR = Training Zone
182 (my max) – 40 (my RHR) = 142 142 x .70 (70% of max) + 40 (RHR) = 139 182 (my max) – 40 (my RHR) = 142 142 x .80 (80% of max) + 40 (RHR) = 153
In this example my Zone 2 aerobic training zones would be from 142-153 BPM
This formula was invented by Luc Leger, PhD at the University of Montreal. He uses age and a constant 205 to determine training zones.
205-(age x % of intensity) 205 – (34 x .70 (70% of max) = 181.2
This method is kind of backwards – if I try to determine my upper range of 80% I calculate this: 205 – (34 x .80 (80% of max) = 178 – hmmm – using this method, the higher my range, the lower my heart rate.
So using this method would not be a good way to determine a range.
This is the method developed by Phil Maffetone. This formula determines your maximum aerobic zone. This is what I call high end Zone 2.
Take 180 – Age
We need to adjust this number based on your current level of fitness. Make the following correction as it applies to you:
If you are about 60 years old or older OR if you are about 20 years old or younger, add an additional 5 beats to the corrected number you now have.
From these adjustments I calculate the following:
Adjustments: I work out 5 or more times per week so I will add 5 beats to that number.
Using this method, I end up with a maximum aerobic zone of 151.
Using the protocol in the Triathlete’s Training Bible and from my own personal LT tests, I calculated my run Lactate Threshold to be 163. From here I can calculate my Zone 2 ranges. Friel uses the range of 85-90% of LT vs. any MHR formula.
163 x .85 (85 % of LT) = 139 163 x .90 (90 % of LT) = 147
---> See the "Heart-Rate Zone Testing Protocol And Lactate Threshold" article to find your bike and run zones.
To compare all the tests I put together a chart:
As you can see, there is some disparity in these methods. Some methods are closer then others and depending on your age, some of these flat out won’t work for you. My thought is to use either the Friel Method or the Karvonen Method. Finding your maximum heart rate is not a lot of fun, trust me I have done it numerous times. My advice is to use the same method all the time, as consistency is your best measuring tool.
Michael Ricci is a USAT certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching at email@example.com.