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Target heart rate is the desired range of heart rate that is achieved during aerobic exercise. Normal heart rate ranges between 72 to 90 beats per minute.

Training heart rate

Target heart rate or Training heart rate is one that helps the heart and lungs receive maximum benefits from an exercise session.

The target heart rate differs and varies between individuals based on their age, sex, athletic capabilities etc. Target heart rate may be calculated by two approved methods. These are:-

  • Karvonen method
  • Zoladz method

Calculating the target heart rate

To calculate the target heart rate intensity is considered in percentage. Usually 50%–85% intensity is considered to be standard when calculating target or training heart rate.

The first step is to calculate the HRmax. This is measured by a cardiac stress test. For this the person exercises while being monitored by a cardiac monitor.

During the test the intensity of exercise is increased by increasing the speed or slope of the treadmill. The heart functions are measured by the readings of the ECG. The test usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes.

The HRmax is also calculated using age and sex specific formula.

Karvonen method

Includes factors like Resting Heart Rate (HRrest) and uses it to calculate Target heart rate. The formula is as follows.

THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × %Intensity) + HRrest

Zoladz method

In this method exercise zones are derived by subtracting values from HRmax. The formula is as follows.

THR = HRmax – Adjuster ± 5 bpm

Zone 1 Adjuster = 50 bpm; Zone 2 Adjuster = 40 bpm; Zone 3 Adjuster = 30 bpm; Zone 4 Adjuster = 20 bpm; Zone 5 Adjuster = 10 bpm

Thereafter the Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) is a test that determines power output for short distance trials. MAP helps determine the heart rate deflection point (HRDP) to determine the functional threshold heart rate (LTHR or FTHR) of power output.


  • http://www.rbht.nhs.uk/patients/condition/heart/
  • www.uhs.nhs.uk/…/Bradyarrhythmias-patientinformation.pdf
  • www.uhs.nhs.uk/…/Tachyarrhythmias-patientinformation.pdf
  • http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_edu/waldron/pdf/HeartRateProtocol.pdf
  • knowledgetranslation.ca/…/Ref%20ID%208067-20090628231006.pdf
  • http://www.lostrivercycling.org/docs/ch_intensity.pdf

Further Reading

  • All Heart Rate Content
  • What is Heart Rate?
  • Heart Rate Reserve
  • Heart Rate Abnormalities

Last Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, drug zofran lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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