How do you find your target heart rate, the number of beats per minute that shows you're exercising hard enough to lose weight?

A researcher in the early 1970's noticed that maximum heart rate decreases regularly with age, giving birth to the “220-age” rule. The rule states that you can determine your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

The number you get with this formula is your maximum heart rate, the number of beats per minute when chased by a crazed rottweiler. Your target heart rate is a percentage of this maximum value. Stick with me--I'm almost done, there's a reward at the end.

Let's say you're 40 years old and aiming for 70% of maximum:

180 * .70=126 beats per minute

Your target heart rate is 126.

Simple, isn't it?

The are a couple of problems with this method.

First of all, it's complicated. You need either math skills or computer help with the formula. And it requires an electronic monitor too--how else will you know your heart rate?

Second of all, it isn't as accurate as once thought. The accuracy changes with common cold medicines, for example. The accuracy also varies between men and women. And between the young and old.


Forget “220-age”. Instead, assign a number from one to 10 that represents your current exercise intensity. One is very low, three is moderate, seven is very strong... and 10 is maximum. Let's say you want to exercise at 70% of maximum. Simply go to effort 7—you pick the level, not a machine, or a formula.

Too simple to believe? Amazingly, research has shown this method to be quite accurate. And you don't need an electronic monitor either.

It's simple and it works better. How often does that happen? What are you waiting for?

Author's Bio: 

Greg Mumm is a fitness trainer who's spent a lifetime collecting knowledge that can help you lose weight and gain energy. He even wrote a book, available at