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What is my target heart rate and why should I care?

Oct 9, 2017

Question: "What is my target heart rate and why should I care?"

Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT

Target Heart Rate is defined as the minimum amount of heart beats needed to achieve a level of exertion in a certain amount of time during cardiovascular exercise. These numbers are specific to each individual and are usually based on age, gender or physical fitness. The target heart rate is important because it gives a specific zone to stay within during cardiovascular training. These numbers help keep you from over exertion and they maintain a proper balance during endurance training. In order to know what your target heart rate is you must have a health professional test you. Because you want to stay within 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate have your trainer test your heart rate in order to get the specific numbers. These numbers are important because they are used in building a cardio prescription based on the client’s needs. Whether you are trying to burn fat, improve endurance or just burn calories during your session, staying within the target heart rate will almost guarantee maximum effort within a specific time in order to avoid overtraining and improve cardio efficiency. Nobody wants to sit on a machine for an hour when you can achieve your goal in half the time.

Earvin Behena, NSCA - CSCS

In order to find out what your target heart rate, we must first understand heart rate. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute; this number depends on the person’s fitness level. Someone with a high cardiovascular fitness level will have a lower heart rate than someone with a low fitness level. In order to calculate someone’s target heart rate we need to find their resting heart rate first, which is the number of beats per minute when they are at rest. Once we understand those terms then we can learn about a target heart rate. Target heart rate is a range of heart beats per minute that is needed to achieve a certain rate of exertion. The range depends on a person age, resting heart rate and their cardiovascular level as stated before. A method used to calculate your target heart rate is the Karvonen Calculator which will tell you what your heart rate ranges are. The target heart rate ranges are used to set up a cardiovascular plan that will be specific for you and help you progress with cardio. It will give your cardio meaning and not repeat the same routine over and over.


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