Your resting heart rate could be lower than most. Check to see what it is when you are resting. Then go to this spark people calculator www.sparkpeople.com/resource/calculator_ta rget.asp then you may find a new number for your max and your 85% number. I was able to enter these % into my HRM so that it would beep if it was too low, or too high.
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I find this a challenge as well, as I am 46 and notice that I work out at about 75% max heart rate. However, if you looked at the SP link, you'll see the RPE chart. 75% for me feels like 6 on that chart. As a fitness instructor and trainer for over a decade, I encouraged members to go with RPE (unless you have directions by a doctor to monitor your heart rate etc.) 5-6 is where you feel like you could say a sentence and then have to take a breath and also feel you could maintain that intensity for a full workout (say, 45 + minutes) without difficulty. 7-8 is where you'll notice your breathing more, you'll have to deliberately take deeper breaths sometimes, and feel you could maintain that intensity for about 5-8 minutes tops. Higher than that is left for high intensity drills like sprints or HIIT training - where you could go about 60 seconds and then be unable to maintain that intensity and need to recover right afterward to catch your breath and lower your heart rate. You should never feel light-headed, dizzy, or your heart pounding. All the above is speaking to the average exerciser, not elite athletes. Getting to know your own body is the best way to exercise, though tracking your heart rate is good information. Kudos to you for caring so much about your body!
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I almost always work out at "85%" of my target heart rate. It can't really be, because as Jen mentioned, you can't maintain that kind of pace for long.
Realistically, go by how you feel. If you feel challenged, you're in a great place. If you are feeling like it's too much, slow down :) RPE is more helpful for me. I use my heart rate as a way to measure calories, NOT to tell me where I need to be working out.
Heather Writer, mother, wife, and breadwinner. I love to run, but running doesn't love me, so I'm switching to my low-impact bike.
I know for me, my heart rate seems to go up higher than it "should" based on my RPE and fitness level. (I've been running for a couple of years now, so I'm in pretty good shape now.) I don't worry about it, because I feel fine and can pass the talk test.
Target heart rate is an average calculation that doesn't work for everyone. If you were really working at 85-95% of your MHR, you wouldn't be able to do that for a sustained period of time. So my guess is that your MHR is actually higher than the formulas calculate.
I think RPE or the Talk Test are both great ways to measure the intensity of your workout. Here's more detail about both of them that you might find helpful:
I've recently started exercising again after a bit of a break. Cardio has never come easily to me but I have been enjoying what little running I can do (I am working on C25K currently) and I feel so good after, and frequently during, my sessions.
I've always struggled in group settings because what seems so easy for others pushes me to my limits and I feel the need to try and meet their standards rather than my own. I purchased a chest straps style heart rate monitor and discovered that, based on target heart rate ranges, I had been working out at about 85% or higher of my MHR when I felt as though the best I could do just wasn't enough.
My question is: If I feel good, challenged, but what I am doing is sustainable for at least 30 minutes and even enjoyable, should I be concerned that my heart rate is 85-95% of my calculated maximum? (using the 220-age formula)
I have read a number of articles on this site concerning both overexertion and the idea that these formulas are not accurate for everyone, since I've never been very physically fit or a habitual exerciser I don't have a good idea of what healthy exercise vs overdoing it feels like. I don't know that my concept of RPE is even very valid.
Please don't just tell me to see my doctor and ask them, for a number of reasons that is not a very viable option for me.
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