Max HR & 220-Age Formula - How accurate for you?

doyler78
doyler78 Posts: 1,951
edited January 2009 in Road beginners
We see the question about HR zones and calculating maxHR a lot on these forums and there are those that continue to advise people to use 220-age yet for those of us who have had a maxHR test done in the lab or conducted our own and found it to be far out it seem obvious that for training purposes it can be useless. If you don't test then how do you know that you are not one of the people that doesn't conform and the purpose of this poll is to see just how much variation there is amongst the people on this forum and see where that leaves us.

You should only vote if you have conducted a maxHR test, either on your own or in a lab and if it has been a few years since you've done one then use your age at the time you conducted the test as maxHR tends to drop over time.

I propose using the following format and here's my stats:

Tested maxHR: 198bpm
Age: 35
220-Age Formula maxHR: 220-35 = 185bpm
Variance = Tested - Formula = 198-185 = +13bpm

In terms of setting up training zones for me then 220-Age would be useless for me. Let's see what the survey tells us about the rest of you.

Comments

  • APIII
    APIII Posts: 2,010
    It's inaccurate for me.
    Tested MaxHR = 172
    Age = 36
    Formula HR = 184
    Variance = -12
  • Casbar
    Casbar Posts: 168
    Well you guys have just set the perfect example

    You are 1 year apart in age

    The formular would show 185 and 184 respectively.

    Yet your real Max HR is 26bpm appart. So the formular is clearly not accurate enough

    BTW how is the proper test carried out ?
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  • inseine
    inseine Posts: 5,786
    I don't think that a poll is needed to know that it's a load of tosh. Been disproven a million times.
  • Mister W
    Mister W Posts: 791
    Agreed.......... it's no better than picking a number at random. I'm 38 with a max of 192.
  • I have not voted in the poll as I have not had a proper MHR test however my MHR that I have recorded on rides is 179 on several occasions. I should imagine that my actual MHR would be a few beats higher that 179. On 3 occasions on my first ride after illness I have recorded MHR's of 210, somot not quite right there :shock:

    NON tested maxHR: 179bpm
    Age: 46
    220-Age Formula maxHR: 220-46 = 174bpm
    Variance = Tested - Formula = 179-174 = +4bpm
  • Eat My Dust
    Eat My Dust Posts: 3,965
    I've never had my MHR tested properly, but when doing interval training my HR goes up to a max of 184, so I think that the 220 - 33 probably isn't too far off as I could probably push a little harder.
  • nickwill
    nickwill Posts: 2,735
    My maximum heart rate is around the 192 mark. I'm 51 so according to the formula it should be 169. That's a 23 bpm difference (it might even be more than that).
    As far as I'm concerned , the formula is misleading nonsense and should be consigned to the bin!
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    inseine wrote:
    I don't think that a poll is needed to know that it's a load of tosh. Been disproven a million times.

    I think if you searched max heart rate or variations there on in this forum you will find plenty of people still trotting out the 220-age formula and the point is that if people can actually see something simple which shows them just how variable it is in the form of a poll then it will be easier to get the message over than the same people going through the same arguments over the formula where people just give up reading halfway through the posts. That's the reason I put it up.
  • doyler78 wrote:
    inseine wrote:
    I don't think that a poll is needed to know that it's a load of tosh. Been disproven a million times.

    I think if you searched max heart rate or variations there on in this forum you will find plenty of people still trotting out the 220-age formula and the point is that if people can actually see something simple which shows them just how variable it is in the form of a poll then it will be easier to get the message over than the same people going through the same arguments over the formula where people just give up reading halfway through the posts. That's the reason I put it up.

    Actually a very good idea perhaps this thread should be stickied?

    As for me:

    Tested MHR: 207 bpm
    Age: 40

    Miles out!
  • Another one who was way out - max accurately recorded climbing from Port de Polenca to Luc (waaaay too quick, major blow-up but somehow completed the climb tho' Lord knows how!) 196 - age 41 at the time (last April)

    So -

    'Real-life' max HR - 196
    Age (at time) - 41
    Theoretical max h/r - 179
    Variance - 17
  • Al_38
    Al_38 Posts: 277
    Yep it is a load of rubbish:

    MHR = 214 (had my HRM record this a couple of times)
    Theoretical MHR = 200

    The only proper way to actully find your MHR is to do some form of ramp test / brutal set of intervals etc

    Al
  • JGS
    JGS Posts: 180
    I still stick by this formula as a basic starting point to estimate someones desired cardio zone. It is based on the average and a bit like BMI it's not 100% accurate, but it does help you pick a rough zone to aim for if you can't get a lab test done. Not everyone is completely obsessed with being in their perfect cardio zone, and would just like something ballpark to aim for.

    I think that you will find that even if peoples zones fluctuate around 5% from what the formula gives you, once this is translated into a 80% of MHR cardio zone it'll only be 4% out, which you can then adjust to on the bike. This is considerably easier and cheaper than a lab test.

    As for myself I am 26 and have a MHR of 217, which is way out from the formula.
  • pjh
    pjh Posts: 204
    Age 42 - theoretical MaxHR - 178

    Actually seen on the bike - 192 (though I've never been formally tested).

    Funny thing for me is that my max HR (real-world i.e on the bike) seems to be going up !!! When I first started cycling 18 months ago I thought I was going to drop dead when my HR hit 175. Now it regularly hits 185 and though I'm cursing .... I'm still pedalling :)


    It's great to be .....
  • JGS
    JGS Posts: 180
    pjh wrote:
    Funny thing for me is that my max HR (real-world i.e on the bike) seems to be going up !!! When I first started cycling 18 months ago I thought I was going to drop dead when my HR hit 175. Now it regularly hits 185 and though I'm cursing .... I'm still pedalling :)

    As you get fitter your max HRM can rise. This is why the 220-age should be applied to people who vary from zero to mid fitness levels. Once you start doing more than 5 hours of vigorous excercise a week you're going to be on a different footing to what the formula was worked out for.
  • webbhost
    webbhost Posts: 470
    the maximum Heart rate I have had is 208 and I am 21.

    Therefore 220 - 21 = 199.

    My HR went 9 BPS above what it should have.
  • Doesn't work for me either:

    Age 65
    MHR 182
    Formula MHR = 220-65=155
    difference = 182-155= 27bpm

    The formula makes a basic assumption that MHR declines linearly with age - which is not generally found to be the case.
  • Interesting to see the variations.

    Aged: 48
    Tested: 195
    Race sprint: 193
    Formula: 172
  • It doesn't work for me either. This is data from a few years ago.

    On-bike max observed: 202 (not max testing but at the end of sprints and hard intervals)
    Tread-mill cardiac stress test max: 197
    Age: 36 (at the time)
    Formula max: 220-36=184
    Variance: 13-18

    I'm hopeless at running and could probably have hit a higher heart-rate in the treadmill test if my shins weren't on fire!
    No-one wanted to eat Patagonia Toothfish so they renamed it Chilean Sea Bass and now it's in danger of over fishing!
  • IanTrcp
    IanTrcp Posts: 761
    Age 41
    Tested Max 196
    Formula Max 220-41=179
    So 17bpm out
  • e999sam
    e999sam Posts: 426
    I've not had mine tested but I've had it up to 180 at the age of46. When I was in my 20's I could get to 220+ which blows the calculation well out of the water.
  • 6288
    6288 Posts: 131
    i seem to tie in with most folks on here my age

    age - 35
    max hr - 196bpm
    formulaa hr - 185bpm
    variance - 11bpm
  • JGS wrote:
    pjh wrote:
    Funny thing for me is that my max HR (real-world i.e on the bike) seems to be going up !!! When I first started cycling 18 months ago I thought I was going to drop dead when my HR hit 175. Now it regularly hits 185 and though I'm cursing .... I'm still pedalling :)

    As you get fitter your max HRM can rise. This is why the 220-age should be applied to people who vary from zero to mid fitness levels. Once you start doing more than 5 hours of vigorous excercise a week you're going to be on a different footing to what the formula was worked out for.
    The Max HR we can induce tends to fall with improved fitness. Partly due to an increase in heart stroke volume helping to increase cardiac output.

    HR is not an indicator of fitness.
  • richara3
    richara3 Posts: 153
    Now I may be wrong here but I assumed that the max hr calculation was only a rough guide to what would be considered a safe upper hr limit, that when sustained would not lead to any medical complications. Obviously if your fitter you may struggle to reach this limit and if your a bit of a biff or push yourself really hard you may easily soar above it, But going by the hr calc it would not be recomended.



    Andy.
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    richara3 wrote:
    Now I may be wrong here but I assumed that the max hr calculation was only a rough guide to what would be considered a safe upper hr limit, that when sustained would not lead to any medical complications. Obviously if your fitter you may struggle to reach this limit and if your a bit of a biff or push yourself really hard you may easily soar above it, But going by the hr calc it would not be recomended.



    Andy.

    A maxHR test seeks to find the maximum heart rate you can hit during that particular exercise (sport). It is not unsafe to hit your max but it is very, very difficult and for people over 35yo it is recommended that it is done under medical supervision however the choice is down to the individual. I know I wouldn't be put off doing one again now that I have hit the pensioners mile mark of 35yo :lol:
  • hambones
    hambones Posts: 407
    I always enjoy these threads. Not sure where people get the 220-age from because from age 20 and above it should be 210 minus half your age. If you use that with most of the figures quoted it's not that far out at all and would be a good general guide.

    Naturally there will always be exceptions! :D
    Still breathing.....
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    hambones wrote:
    I always enjoy these threads. Not sure where people get the 220-age from because from age 20 and above it should be 210 minus half your age. If you use that with most of the figures quoted it's not that far out at all and would be a good general guide.

    Naturally there will always be exceptions! :D

    I guess it depends on how far and how many people are out. Surely if you are going to try and set training zones based on a figure of which you cannot be sure then surely the only sensible course is actually to test it and that way you can at least be reasonably certain that you aren't an exception.

    For me it would be:

    210 - (35/2) = 192.5

    I tested mine at 198 so that's a variance of 5.5 - better yes but I can get higher just by pushing up a hill so I would say ride data should would give you a more accurate info than the formula so really I don't really see when the formula's would be any use for any fit person - save someone who is incredible unfit and who is just starting an exercise program then it may be useful however as we have seen some people are actually much lower than the formula says.

    As for where do people get this info from. Well not unsurprisingly a lot of fitness websites which have training zones calculators which base them on 220-age so you can hardly blame most people for using this info. Perhaps the fitness industry needs sort its act out before condemning the ordinary person who doesn't have a background in exercise physiology.
  • gavintc
    gavintc Posts: 3,009
    I am 51 and have recorded 186 bpm on my HRM. I use 190 bpm as my guide as a max and using this, the HR Zones seem to work for me. I know by how my body feels what my touring rate and my balls out rates are and they fit with a max of 190. So, for me - 220-age is bollox. I have not done a ramp test, but don't think I need to as I have used a HRM for a couple of years and developed an understanding of where my zones are.