# Maximum Heart Rate Calculator

Enter your age and sex to calculate your maximum heart rate according to the most-popular formulas.

# Calculating Maximum Heart Rate

## Introduction

Our maximum heart rate calculator takes your age and sex and uses them to find and compare results from the most-popular maximum heart rate estimation formulas.

We present results from several popular formulas, all of which work on the basis that a person's maximum heart rate will decrease as they age.

This reduction in maximum heart rate means that older hearts can't beat as fast, so less capacity is available. This is one of the many reasons people tend to decline in athletic ability as they grow older.

## Benefits of maximum heart rate formulas

The main benefit of using a formula to predict maximum heart rate, as opposed to a physical test, is that it allows predictions to be made for those for whom the strenuous exercise required is not a possibility.

An appropriate intensity of exercise can then be suggested based on heart rate.

On a group level, an understanding of how maximum heart rate declines with age can help

## Difficulties & Interpretation

Note that none of the calculators is particularly reliable becasue of the assumption that everybody's maximum heart rate will not only decline similarly, but will also start from the same point. In reality each individual's maximum heart rate will vary according to a variety of factors aside from age and sex, such as genetics and training history.

The results are probably most useful to demonstrate trends, i.e. average maximum heart rate by age and gender, and to help indicate the types of result that might be expected so that erroneous results from tests, such as a spike from a heart rate monitor or a miscounted pulse rate, can be easily identified. They may also be useful where general guidance is given to a group, and it's not possible to conduct a proper max heart rate test for each individual in that group. If you are basing any training prescription on these calculations then proceed with caution and ensure your athletes understand the limitations.

Because of this unreliability it's not recommended to base training intensities on the results generated by this calculator when an accurate value is important.

The best way to determine your maximum heart rate is to perform a test whilst wearing a heart rate monitor. We describe three test protocols in our guide to heart rate training.

Once you know your true maximum heart rate, you can use our Heart Rate Zones Calculator to establish suitable training intensities.

For those who are fans of gadgets, many heart rate monitors, such as those offered by Garmin and Polar, allow you to provide your maximum heart rate. This can then be used as a guide while training. Some attempt to automatically calculate your heart rate zones from this information, and some more sophisticated models may also use resting heart rate data to provide a more accurate estimate.

These devices also often keep a record of the max heart rate recorded during training. But be aware of data spikes, which are not uncommon. It may be better to look at an average heart rate over a period of intense exercise (30 seconds or so), to be sure you're not relying on an anomof a perioalous reading.

## Using the calculator

Simply choose your sex, enter your age (up to 120 years old), and hit Calculate.

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# Maximum Heart Rate Formulas

A large variety of formulas is available and we've selected some of the more popular to describe and incorporate into our calculator.

They are all Age-Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (APMHR) formulas. That is to say, they all take an age (and some of them a sex) and predict your maximum heart rate from this. All take the form `value 1 - (value 2 × age).` and give estimates in beats per minute (bpm)

Most people are familiar with the `220 − age` calculation (which has an interesting history). This formula is sometimes known as the "Fox formula", since it was derived by Fox and Naughton in their 1973 paper.

This formula has been widely criticised. One problem with it is its tendency to overestimates for older adults and underestimates for older adults.

Another problem is that the study on which the formula is based was carried out on men, so does not necessarily translate to what is typical for women. `226 − age` may be a better formula for predicting maximum heart rate in women.

Unfortunately, despite many problems with `220 − age`, many official and respected organisations, such as the CDC and the American Heart Association continue to prescribe exercise based on this formula, without providing any caveats.

## Gellish et al.

Gellish et al. (2007) examined data from tests undertaken by both men and women of varying ages in different studies and derived a prediction formula of `207 - (0.7 × age)`

## Gulati et al.

Noting that most studies describing maximum heart rate trends were based on data from men, Gulati et al. (2010) examined heart rate responses to exercise in over 5,000 women, and determined an average maximum heart rate of `(206 − 0.88 × age)`.

## Arena et al.

Arena et al. (2015) carried out a maximum heart rate test on just under 4,800 test subject, 63% of whom were male, and 37% of whom were female. Analysis of their data suggest an age-predicted maximum heart rate of `(209.3 − 0.72 × age)`.

## Astrand

In his 1952 book, Experimental Studies of Physical Working Capacity in Relation to Sex and Age, Astrand suggested the formula `(216.6 − 0.84 × age)`.

## Nes et al.

Nes et al. (2012) carried out a study that included 3,320 men and women of various ages and, noting that previous equations tended to underestimate the maximum heart rate older than 30, proposed the formula `(211 − 0.64 × age)`.

## Fairbarn et al.

Fairbarn et al. (1994) carried out maximum heart rate tests on a cycle ergometer and derived different formula for women and men. For women, the formula is `201 - (0.63 × age)`; for men it is `208 - (0.8 × age)`.

## Tanaka et al.

Tanaka et al. suggest that a good prediction of maximum heart rate is achieved with `208 - (0.7 × age)`. Their analysis suggested that the reliability of the equation is not affected by sex or activity levels.

## Londeree and Moeschberger

In 1982 Londeree and Moeschberger studied national-level athletes and derived several regression equations for determining maximum heart rate. Some of these take factors such as fitness level into account. Two of these considered only age, the simplest of which is `206.3 - (0.711 × age)`. They found that max heart rate declined in both men and women with training.

## Inbar

An examination of the 30 most-popular heart rate formulas in 2002, determined that the best maximum heart rate formula is provided by Inbar, whose formula is `205.8 - (0.685 × age)`. The same journal article also states that there is no acceptable method to estimate maximum heart rate.

## Whyte et al.

Whyte et al.'s study on training-induced change in maximum heart rate, from 2008, claims that a different formula is more appropriate depending on whether we are considering male or female athletes. In this case the formula for men is `202 - (0.55 × age)` and the formula for women is `216 - (1.09 × age)`. The authors point out that maximum heart rate is significantly lower in athletes than in sedentary people of the same age.

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