January 24, 2017
As a Myzone user, you’ve probably heard the term “maximal heart rate.” Sounds pretty self-explanatory, right? But when you begin to think about the term a little more, what does maximal heart rate (MHR) really mean to us as exercisers? Let’s peel back some of the layers of MHR.
According to the Mayo Clinic, MHR is “the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.”
The gold standard for maximal heart rate monitoring is to perform a graded exercise test on a cycle ergometer or treadmill supervised by a cardiologist or exercise physiologist. In a graded exercise test, the work rate is gradually increased until the exerciser is unable to continue exercising. Maximal heart rate is considered the highest heart rate attained during the test.
Graded exercise tests are typically used in clinical settings to evaluate how your heart responds to exercise. Though often used to determine underlying cardiac conditions, these tests can be used to determine appropriate intensities for aerobic exercise.
While a graded exercise test is the most accurate way to determine MHR, they are not usually accessible to the average exerciser. As such, prediction equations have been developed to estimate MHR.
Myzone uses the equation: MHR = 211 – (0.64 x age in years)
When you enter your age during the registration process, Myzone automatically calculates your MHR. It’s important for you to have a MHR value in the Myzone system, as Myzone uses it to determine your heart rate zones while working out.
The Myzone zones (GRAY, BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, & RED) are directly tied to your estimated MHR in the Myzone system. Here’s a breakdown:
As you can imagine, an incorrect value for MHR will impact which zone you are in during your workouts. We’ll describe when and how to adjust your MHR later in this post.
Although the estimated MHR equation used by Myzone should be accurate for most people, you may need to adjust your estimated MHR somewhat. You’ll be able to determine this by comparing your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to your Myzone zone during exercise. Check out this video for details on RPE and for a simple assessment you can perform to determine if you need to change your MHR.
A general rule of thumb is:
If your RPE indicates low-to-moderate intensity exercise but your zone indicates high intensity exercise, you need to raise your MHR. Ex: you feel like you are working at a 6 but you are in the YELLOW zone.
If your RPE indicates high intensity exercise but your zone indicates low-to-moderate intensity exercise, you need to lower your MHR. Ex: you feel like you are working at an 8 but you are in the BLUE zone.
If your fitness facility uses Myzone, your trainer or fitness manager will be able to adjust your MHR on the Partner Page of Myzone.org. If you don’t belong to a fitness facility, or if they don’t have Myzone yet, you can contact Myzone support at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to adjust your MHR.
Keep in mind, if you hit a heart rate value above your estimated MHR during your workout and maintain it for at least 10 seconds, Myzone will automatically update your estimated MHR to the new number you achieved.
In certain cases, you may need to set a limit on your MHR so that you exercise at an intensity that is safe for you. We encourage you to talk to your doctor about exercise and see if you should not be exercising above a certain heart rate. If this is the case, you can ask an employee at your fitness facility to set a MHR limit for you, or you can contact Myzone support.
If you have questions about MHR, we want to know! Connect with us on social media using the hashtags #myzonemoves and #effortrewarded. To hear Myzone Master Trainer Ayla Donlin discuss maximal heart rate monitoring, watch our recent Fitness Friday broadcast.
For more tips on how to use Myzone to achieve your fitness goals, follow us for our Fitness Friday broadcasts on Facebook Live (subscribe on Myzone’s Facebook page) every Friday at 8 am PT, 11 am ET.
Keep moving forward!