The Truth About Target Heart Rates






Here is a great post by Mike Boyle, I’ll add some commentary later, enjoy!

Sergio Maldonado


I know. You’re probably saying “here he goes again”
and you are correct.

You’re thinking “Come on, don’t attack the target
heartrate zone idea too”. Sorry. Here we go again.

Every time I have this conversation with a group
I always get the question:

“If this stuff isn’t true, why is it plastered on the
front of every treadmill”.

I can’t really answer except to say that it probably
came out of the legal department.

The truth is that target heartrate zone training is a
highly flawed concept that could result in us drastically
overtraining or undertraining ourselves or a client.
Why is it a flawed concept? Because the physiologists
know that only a small percentage of the population
actually fits the formula. Did you know that seventy
percent of the population is plus or minus ten to twelve
beats from the theoretical 220- age formula.

Yes seven out of ten people don’t fit the mold. Even
worse, thirty percent of the population deviates nearly
twice that much.

In mathematical terms for seventy percent of the
population maximal heartrate actually equals:

220 – age plus or minus 10-12 beats per minute

For thirty percent of the population maximal heartrate
actually equals:

220- age plus or minus 20-24 beats per minute

Why is this such a big deal?

To realize why, we need to first state that those
whose heartrates are on the high end are at little
to no risk. All that happens with those folks is that
we don’t push them hard enough. The problem is
with the folks who have an unusually low maximum
heartrate. If we were to push a person in the thirty
percent group that is minus twenty-four beats per minute
to eighty percent of their theoretical maximal heartrate,
we would actually be pushing them to ninety percent.

This would be a major error that could have significant

The lesson here is that, as with so many of the so-called
truths of fitness, there is actually significant variability
in what we seem to think is an accurate and time-honored
formula. Be careful with yourself and with you clients.

Buy a heartrate monitor and learn how both you
and your clients really respond to exercise.

To your success,

Mike Boyle

PS – I have just launched an incredible new site that
you absolutely need to be a part of if you train hockey
players. It’s called Hockey Strength & Conditioning.

Here is the website:


About MaxOut Performance Fitness
Sergio Maldonado is a Sports Performance and Fitness Coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. He strives to be the best at what he does through training, professional development courses, and practice. The purpose of this blog is to get out some of the knowledge that he obtains to better help others in their pursuits towards fitness and a better life.

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