What is Target Heart Rate?

Want to know what is target heart rate? Here is an easy to understand explanation. The Target Heart Rate (THR), or Training Heart Rate, is a desired range of heart rate (beats per minute) reached during aerobic exercise or other training which enables you to gain maximum benefit from a workout.


What is Target Heart Rate - Different Heart Rate Zones (range) for Different Goals

If you look at the picture below you will see that there are 5 different target heart rate zones. Each THR range has a different goal:

  • The first THR zone is from 50 to 60% of the Maximum Heart Rate value and if you exercise or train within this heart rate zone you will be focusing on Maintenence or Warm-up.
  • The second THR zone is from 60 to 70% of the Maximum Heart Rate value and if you exercise or train within this heart rate zone your primary goal/focus will be on Weight loss and Fat Burning
  • The third THR zone is from 70 to 80% of the Maximum Heart Rate value and if you exercise or train within this heart rate zone you will be focusing on Cardio Training and Endurance.
  • The fourth Target Heart Rate (THR) zone is from 80 to 90% of the Maximum Heart Rate value and if you exercise or train within this heart rate zone you will be focusing on Hardcore Training (sports specific or hardcore bodybuilding for example).
  • The fifth THR zone is from 90 to 100% of the Maximum Heart Rate value and at this point you are exerting yourself to the MAX which, unless you are Lance Armstrong, is not recommended. This zone is the range at which you are pushing your body and heart to its limits. You may stay within this range for a short periodic time during your training, but remaining within this MAX zone during the entire workout is extremely hard and not good for your heart if sustained for too long.
  • Thus, to maximize/achieve your goals during exercise or training you need to train within the designated Target Heart Rate zone(s).


    What is Target Heart Rate - Calculation

    Aside from using the diagram above to determine your THR you can also use this simple formula:

    First find your base Target Heart Rate

    Target Heart Rate (THR) = 220 (maximum heart rate) - age

    For example:

    THR = 220 - 35 = 185 bpm (beats per minute)

    Then multiply your Target Heart Rate by the desired range given your goal. Let's say you are interested in fat-burning - thus, you will multiply your THR by 0.6 and 0.7 (60% and 70% of target heart rate) to get the optimal fat burning range as illustrated in the exercise zones diagram above.

    For example:

    Fat burning zone (lower value) = 185bpm x 0.6 = 111bpm

    Fat burning zone (upper value) = 185bpm x 0.7 = 129.5bpm

    Thus, the optimal Target Heart Rate zone for fat burning for a 35 year-old person is from 111 to 130 beats per minute. If the heart rate stays within this range during exercise or training (on a treadmill or exercise bike etc.) fat burning efforts are maximized.

    Once the heart rate goes above then endurance/cardio training begins. If the heart rate drops below the fat burning zone, only warm-up or maintenance is achieved.


    What is Target Heart Rate - Measuring Equipment

    If you are training and doing exercise and want to measure your heart rate accurately it's a good idea to have a sports heart rate monitor because the heart rate measuring accuracy of the built-in sensor pads on treadmills and exercise bikes (sensors are usually on the handles) is not that good. You will find there is a big discrepancy in the measurement value between the machine sensor pad and your heart rate monitor. Thus, investing in a good sports heart rate monitor is well worth it.


    From "What is Target Heart Rate" to main page about "Burning Fat"



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