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Why I don't use 220-age for HRmax

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Why I don't use 220-age for HRmax

Old 03-16-21, 01:12 PM
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caloso
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Why I don't use 220-age for HRmax

As I mentioned in another thread (which I didn't want to derail) I mentioned that I'd recently done a ramp test to evaluate my FTP improvement. The graph of HR and power demonstrates why I don't use the 220-age formula. If I'd stopped at the 220-age predicted maximum heart rate that would have been 25 bpm below my actual observed maximum. More importantly, it would have been 130 watts below exhaustion, which is huge.



Obviously, if you have known or suspected heart issues, consult your doctor. But if you've been limiting your efforts to an age-based formula, you may be cheating yourself.

Last edited by caloso; 03-16-21 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 03-16-21, 01:29 PM
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The 220-age formula is - and has always been - a rough estimate, at best. In my early-mid 30s, my max. was 207, and I could do long efforts at 192. Currently (52yo), my max. is 187.
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Old 03-16-21, 01:49 PM
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I'm 220 years old, and that crazy formula would predict that I am no longer alive.
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Old 03-16-21, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I'm 220 years old, and that crazy formula would predict that I am no longer alive.
And yet, strangely you are!!!!
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Old 03-16-21, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I'm 220 years old, and that crazy formula would predict that I am no longer alive.
Your birth certificate was forged.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:03 PM
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220 - age = HOGWASH
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Old 03-16-21, 05:19 PM
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220 minus age works out to about 10 BPS lower than the highest I've registered on my chest-strap HRM in recent months. Maybe the rule of thumb is intentionally conservative? It seems to be lower than a lot of people's max HR when tested.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:32 PM
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Everyone seems to bash this formula and I don't really know why. everywhere I read about this formula is pretty clear that it is an estimate only.

I suspect that it is more accurate for most that do not get regular exercise, unlike the majority on this forum.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Brett A View Post
220 minus age works out to about 10 BPS lower than the highest I've registered on my chest-strap HRM in recent months. Maybe the rule of thumb is intentionally conservative? It seems to be lower than a lot of people's max HR when tested.
I don't think there's any intentionality involved. My understanding is that some researcher took a bunch of untrained individuals and plotted their max HRs and noticed a gross correlation between their age and HR. Then tried to fit a line to the correlation that worked out to 220-age. That's it. It's just a correlation across a population that has no predictive value for any one individual. It's just baffling to me how this has come to be accepted as even a rule of thumb. I mean you see it printed on gym equipment. I don't get it.

It makes as much sense as the "8 glasses of water everyday" nonsense.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
Everyone seems to bash this formula and I don't really know why. everywhere I read about this formula is pretty clear that it is an estimate only.

I suspect that it is more accurate for most that do not get regular exercise, unlike the majority on this forum.
I'm sure you could get an estimate for your blood pressure via a formula too, but would your doctor use that? No, they'd put a cuff on your arm and measure it.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:54 PM
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How does the HUNT formula work for folks, it is designed for more active individuals:

211 - (0.64 x age)

It is a ringer for me.
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Old 03-16-21, 07:01 PM
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Probably more, but most MHR calculator formulas run pretty conservative for those of us who put in 10+ hours/week training.
  • Gellish2: 191.5 - .007 x age^2 = MHR
  • Fairburn: 201 - .63 x age for women = MHR
    OR 208 - .80 x age for men = MHR
  • Gellish: 206.9 - (o.67 x age) = MHR
  • Tanaka: 208 - (0.7 x age) = MHR
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Old 03-16-21, 07:13 PM
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I saw 220 and that is was about amps
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Old 03-16-21, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
I saw 220 and that is was about amps
220, 221, whatever it takes.
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Old 03-16-21, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I'm sure you could get an estimate for your blood pressure via a formula too, but would your doctor use that? No, they'd put a cuff on your arm and measure it.
of course not, and if my dr suggested an estimate it would be my last visit.
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Old 03-16-21, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
Everyone seems to bash this formula and I don't really know why.
We bash it because it is complete nonsense and is harmful to older people trying to get in shape because it makes them curtail their effort at a lower level than they need in order to improve. There have been many scholarly articles written and easily accessible on the web that state how useless and misleading it is, yet it persists. That's why.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
I saw 220 and that is was about amps
Don’t you mean volts?😊

Here’s another formula which worked for me, when I used to try harder:

210-0.5xage-5%body weight in lb
+4 for males
-0 for females

i can’t remember where I found it.

Last edited by Artmo; 03-17-21 at 07:00 AM. Reason: Afterthought
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Old 03-17-21, 06:48 AM
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Yeah volts .. 220 with a 50 amp breaker.
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Old 03-17-21, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Artmo View Post
Don’t you mean volts?😊

Here’s another formula which worked for me, when I used to try harder:

210-0.5xage-5%body weight in lb
+4 for males
-0 for females

i can’t remember where I found it.
This seems closer to my situation than most. At 72 and 166 lbs., my MHR is around 180 at full tilt and I seem to stabilize around 155 on a long threshold ride.
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Old 03-17-21, 07:41 AM
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My annual physical with my doc, he always says “you aren’t in that study group”.
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Old 03-17-21, 07:50 AM
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Ok, the formula is not a good rule. Knowing this do you folks limit your max HR to any level, or just go ahead and ride all out when you feel like it and your max HR is whatever it is? (that's what I do, don't even run a monitor) My results of a recent 2 week Zio patch run showed I got up to 182.

When I asked my cardiologist if doing this was safe he said there is no health benefit to going all out at our age. (60) But apparently there may be a performance benefit for whatever that is worth.
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Old 03-17-21, 08:33 AM
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220-age was never intended to be a formula for the masses. It definitly doesn't apply to me and I've never come across any other formula that fits me. Bottomline, you have to become familiar with your own HR and understand that there are times when even your HR show extreme anomalies.

https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfi...%20-%20Age.pdf


This formula is often quoted without any warning about its potential inaccuracy, and in addition to the inaccuracy, it turns out it has little scientific basis [Kolata, 2003]. Some people are aware that 220-age was never intended by its original authors to be a universal formula (it was intended to come up with a safe exercise level for patients in cardiac rehab and was based on a not very broad sample of subjects). But the problem is also in the basic assumption that max heart can be predicted on the basis of age alone. If you think about it, it seems nonsensical- regardless of family background, fitness level, whether we're tall or short, underweight or overweight, etc, we all have exactly the same heart rate at a certain age, and maximum heart rate declines with age in all of us at exactly the same rate?

Last edited by work4bike; 03-17-21 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 03-17-21, 09:10 AM
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This.

But the problem is also in the basic assumption that max heart can be predicted on the basis of age alone. If you think about it, it seems nonsensical- regardless of family background, fitness level, whether we're tall or short, underweight or overweight, etc, we all have exactly the same heart rate at a certain age, and maximum heart rate declines with age in all of us at exactly the same rate?

Last edited by caloso; 03-17-21 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 03-17-21, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
We bash it because it is complete nonsense and is harmful to older people trying to get in shape because it makes them curtail their effort at a lower level than they need in order to improve. There have been many scholarly articles written and easily accessible on the web that state how useless and misleading it is, yet it persists. That's why.
is it right to bash the formula or to bash those using it without regard to the typical word "estimate" attached to such formula?

i am not defending the formula, it is an estimate, something to use that is quick and dirty. for us that ride a lot it is probably really dirty. i think there is merit to the formula and others, it is just not for us or others that exercise regularly.

for me it is low, i am 54 now and that gives me 166. the highest i have ever seen is 171. i only see this live when on the trainer.

as an aside, how do you even measure max heart rate? i have seen something suggested that is very similar to the FTP ramp test where you increase power and ride until exhaustion, except you take the max heart rate during the ride. is this accurate? probably far better than any estimate but i wonder if on a different day under different conditions one may have a different result.
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Old 03-17-21, 10:30 AM
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I don't set out to purposely test it, but I will note the highest observed reading during a maximum effort. For me that's usually been during races. Nevada City would typically be my maxHR each season. Since I haven't done any races or race-like group rides in a year, it's been during ramp testing. Since you ride those to exhaustion, that seems like a pretty good indication of your true personal max HR.
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