You don't need to focus on what your heart rate actually IS. Ignore that value and use the device to calculate your calories burned instead.
Target Heart Rate is about as good a system applying to one individual as BMI is. You know how people with lots of muscle are classified as obese by the BMI charts? Well, Target Heart Rate based on 220-age is just as bad! If you find that you either don't feel like you can achieve the target given without collapsing, or that you feel the target is not much of a challenge, do not think that you have to stick to it just because of some formula! We are all different.
My target heart rate theoretical max is 181. That means at 60% (I have low fitness) my upper target heart rate would be 108. If I were even very advanced fit, the 85% would have my upper target heart rate as 154. When I'm doing something like cycling that doesn't use the upper body much, I can keep the HR as low as the mid 150's, but there is no way on God's green earth that anything that keeps it at 108 is going to be "exercise" for me. Walking puts it about 120. Running puts it about 175.
So you can see that the formula doesn't always work.
Instead, look down that linked article and read about Rate of Perceived Exertion. This is a much better guide for "how hard should I work out". Then you can manually set your HR guides on your device to be the range that you actually get when you work out at a 7 or 8.
Fitness Minutes: (15,322)
449 2/7/12 12:58 P
Great idea. I have one and love it. It really helps me keep my workout in check. I know when I'm not working hard enough or when I'm working too hard. I have the Polar F6.
I'm thinking of buying a heart rate monitor just to help me be sure that I am getting my heart rate up enough to get a good workout and burn enough calories. My question is what should my heart rate be while working out?
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