jump

FITNESS VOCAB: HR Max

Use it to figure out how hard your body is working.

Consider this Furthermore series further education for fitness. Here, we help define the terms that all athletes should know.

TERM: HR max

DEFINITION: HR max, or maximum heart rate, is the highest number of beats per minute a person can reach when they’re working their hardest during exercise.

In a lab, cardiologists calculate it with a stress test: You run or cycle at all-out effort while an electrocardiogram (or EKG) tracks your heart rate. But most people rely on a simple equation from the American College of Sports Medicine to determine what theirs is: 206.9 - (0.67 x age). So the estimated HR max for a 30-year-old would be 187 beats per minute.

Once you have this number, you can use it to gauge your effort during your cardio session. In fact, the most accurate way to make sure you’re training at the right intensity is to work at a percentage of it, says Michael Ryan, an associate professor of exercise science at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, West Virginia. For a high-quality workout, you’ll want to aim for 80 to 90 percent of your HR max, he adds.