Know and Understand Your Target Heart Rate

Registered Dietitian, Melanie Douglass shares some suggestions as to how to use a heart monitor and how to use it to exercise most efficiently.


Target heart rate is the optimal number of beats per minute in which you can receive the greatest benefit from your efforts to exercise. By working in your “zone”, you’ll get better results in less time, because you train more efficiently. A heart rate monitor is the best and only way to continuously track your progress and keep you on the track to achieve your goals.

Calculate your target heart today; this is the more customized (slightly more complicated) way to calculate target heart rate because this method takes into consideration your resting heart rate. Here’s how you do it:

1. Take your pulse first thing in the morning; count the number of heartbeats in 60 seconds. This is your resting heart rate (RHR).

2. Calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR).
220 – your age = MHR

If you are 40, then your MHR is equal to 180.

3. Calculate your target heart rate (THR).

a. First, subtract your resting heart rate (RHR) from your maximum heart rate (MHR).

If you’re 40 with a MHR of 180, and your measured RHR is 80, then 180 – 80 = 100.

b. Second, multiply this number by the target heart rate (THR) percentage. We will use the general recommendation of 65% to 85%.

.65 x 100 = 65 (lower range)

.85 x 100 = 85 (upper range)

c. Finally, add your resting heart rate back to these numbers.

i. 65 + 80 = 145 lower range

ii. 85 + 80 = 165 upper range

d. Your recommended training range would be 145 – 165 beats per minute.

Have a health question for Melanie? Click here to submit your question and Melanie will answer your question on an upcoming Studio 5 segment!

© 2007 Melanie Douglass, Deseret Book

By Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM

Author: Tip-a-Day Guide to Healthy Living

(Deseret Book, 2007)

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