Where should my heart rate be when I do cardio training?

Your fitness level will dictate where your heart rate should be during cardio training. Depending on what Stage of cardio training you are in, your heart rate should be anywhere between 65 - 90% of your maximum heart rate. You will first want to determine your maximum heart rate (MHR) with the following equation: 220 - Your Age. Initially, you will want to engage in lower levels of intensity (Stage I training), whereby the only heart rate zone you will use is zone 1- 65 - 75% of your maximum heart rate. Once you are able to complete this training for 30 minutes it is an indication that you can progress to a more advanced type of training in cardiorespiratory Stage training. Stage II cardio training involves the incorporation of more intense intervals (zone 2 intervals of 80 - 85% of MHR) after which you recover in lower intensity of 65 - 75% MHR. After progressing through Stage II, you can then begin training in Stage III where you incorporate a much more intense interval of cardio (zone 3 intervals of 86 - 90% MHR) followed by a reduced workload (80 - 85% MHR) and finally recovering in the lower intensity level (65 - 75% MHR). For example, if you are 40 years old, you would use the above calculations in the following manner: 220 - 40= 180 MHR. Zone 1 is a target heart rates of 180 x .65 - 180 x .75 (117 - 135), zone 2 target heart rates of 180 x .80 - 180 x .85 (144 - 153), and zone 3 target heart rates of 180 x .86 - 180 x .90 (154.8 - 162).

Beth Oliver

A very general approach would be to use the Karvonen formula.

220 – age in years = maximum Heart Rate (HR)
[example: 220 – 50 = 170 beats per minute (bpm) max HR]

Maximum HR – resting HR = HR Reserve
[170 – 65 = 105 bpm (HR Reserve)]

HR Reserve X training % + Resting HR = target Heart Rate.
[105 X 07 + 65 = 139 bpm]

You will get the best results (for the general population) by working in your target heart rate.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Whether you’re peddling away on the exercise bike or striding along on the treadmill, it’s important to hit your target heart rate to get the most out of your workout. This rate is normally 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To get a sense of your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

Remember that these are just general guidelines. Always speak to your doctor before starting any type of exercise program, especially if you have cardiovascular disease or any other health condition. Start slowly, aiming for the lower range of your target heart rate, and build up to a more rigorous workout.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.