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Exceeding Max Heart Rate


According to the 220 minus my age calculation, my max rate should be 181.

When I come back from a hard run session and review my stats from my Garmin, often my max heart rate reads at between 175 and 182 (average 150/155).

I'm obviously concerned about going over my max but although i'm fit, find it hard to max below this on hard sessions.

Any thoughts/advice.




  • To be fair, the 220-age is only a rough guide. Can you really say that everyone who is 39 will have exactly a MHR of 181 bpm? Also, the GPS/heart rate devices we train with are not state-of-the-art, NHS funded, pieces of medical equipment with accuracy rates of 100%. True, they will be pretty close to 100% but I would imagine there will be a difference of at least ±1 bpm.

    Have you tried calculating your MHR by other methods? There are plenty out there on the internet. However, the only real guide would be to undergo a controlled fitness session to find your MHR. Perhaps your local college/university is offering sport related courses and the students need to practise?

    All in all, I wouldn't worry about these extra beats over MHR. Continue with your training as you are and enjoy it while you can.
  • thanks new 2 tri, i will and next year for my 40th get these things checked!
  • gavinpgavinp Posts: 168
    If you have a Garmin then do the min / max test using that as it will be more accurate than the 220 test. Though as stated, not as accurate as getting your V02 max test or blood lactate done properly in a lab. But, in the meantime use the kit you have and re-test after every 6-8 weeks of training as it will change as you get fitter.
  • Hi Gavin P, many thanks for your help, could you explain a little more on the min/max text - not heard of it before.

    Thanks James
  • gavinpgavinp Posts: 168
    Hi James

    Basically, training with heart rate can help ensure that you don’t train too easy or too hard during sessions and where you want to target your heart rate between 60%-95% of your maximum heart rate depending on the type of session you are doing, and you've already looked at the basic method of 220 minus your age to find your maximum heart rate (or 226 minus your age for women). Although usefull this method isn't 100% accurate and you could be training at the wrong heart rate levels for you specifically.

    So then, to testing your min and max heart rate using the Garmin and a heart rate monitor:

    Finding your min heart rate: With your heart rate monitor attached, lie down for around 15-20 minutes and keep nice and relaxed with steady breathing. After this time note your minimum heart rate. Easy

    Finding your Max heart rate:
    On as flat a surface as you can find (running track would be good, or use a treadmill for a controlled pace), run as fast as you can/flat out for 3 minutes. Have a 2-3 minute active recovery (easy jog or walk if you need to), then repeat your 3 minute fast/flat out run. During the second run you should reach your maximum heart rate. Record your heart rate straight away as you may peak again just after you finish the effort.

    And there it is. There are other ways of doing this which others may well post too. Entering the min and max heart rate onto your watch will normally give you a spread of about 5 zones to work to (though I think this varies across different makes of watch). You would then use these zones through a variety of sessions (e.g. zone 1 would be an easy recovery run, zone 4 tempo runs etc).

    When you first start using zones, you will find that the alarms will be going off all the time - and your heart rate will of course be hard to maintain on a hilly route for instance when you are trying to keep it in zone 1-2! it will take time to get used to using but you'll get there.

    Have fun!
  • That's brilliant, thanks for taking the time to explain - i'll try this and see how i get on.
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