How to find your maximum heart rate

18.11.2015

Your maximum heart rate is determined by heredity factors, and changes little during exercise. However, it does drop slightly with age. If you want to conduct effective endurance training you should know your maximum heart rate. This is true whether your goal is simply better health or if it is performing better at sports.

Did you know though, that you can find your maximum heart rate on your own, without any fancy equipment?

Interval training

It is a fact that 4×4 interval training is the best endurance training for your heart and your health, but you probably did not know that you could find your maximum heart rate by conducting a session of 4×4.

4×4 interval training is a form of training where you do four intervals of four minutes each, with a three-minute active rest between each interval. During the intervals, you should reach 85-95% of maximum heart rate after two minutes (it takes about two minutes to reach this zone). You should be able to feel it when your body enters this high intensity zone. It is up to you if your intervals consist of walking, jogging or running.

You know you are at 85-95% of maximum heart rate when you breathe heavily and have trouble speaking in whole sentences. At the same time though, you should not feel any pain or discomfort from accumulation of lactic acid.

Another way of finding the right intensity is that you should feel like you could run/walk one more minute, after completing one interval. When you are finished with all four intervals, you should feel like you could run/walk for another four minutes.

 4×4 intervals

– Set the treadmill at a 5% gradient minimum

– Start with a six-minute warm-up at a moderate pace

– Perform the intervals

– Remember the three-minute active breaks where you heart rate should be around 70% of the maximum, ensuring that any build-up of lactic acid disappears.

– Finish with a five-minute cool down.

If you struggle to reach the right heart rate zone during an interval, you can speed up or adjust the incline of the next interval. If you are gasping for breath and feel the lactic acid sneaking up on you after an interval, you need to reduce the speed or incline before the next interval. Continue making adjustments until you find the right intensity.

How to find your maximum heart rate:

Take your pulse at the end of the last interval and add 15 beats to find your maximum heart rate.