Improving State-of-the-heart

It beats about 100,000 times a day and pumps over 2,000 gallons of blood through your body all through over 60,000 miles of vessels and channels throughout your body.  It’s latin prefix is “cor” or “cordis” but most of us know it as “the heart.”

While literature abounds with articles about  heart disease as one of the most common “silent killers” primarily based on poor food selection and inactivity, one of the most common questions our training team fields from our clients is “How fast should my heart beat when I train?”

There are both simple and complex answers to this question, as the inner-workings of this amazing organ can be complex.  In the fitness world, building a more efficient heart is a result of what is referred to as the “training effect.”   Simply stated the training effect describes all the positive improvements that affect a persons physical condition as a result of exercise.

As a function of cardiovascular (heart) improvements, an individual needs to aim for an increase in the beats per minute (bpm) their heart should accelerate to and remain within, for a period of at least 20 minutes.  This range of beats per minute for 20-minutes must exist within a minimum but not exceed a maximum heart rate.  Staying with this range is referred to as the  “training zone.”  Countless variables such as medications, age, weight, heredity and existing vascular disease can all play roles in deriving a safe maximal heart rate.  It is for these reasons that a physician should always be consulted prior to engaging in any exercise program regardless of how vigorous it is.

While there are countless simple and scientific tools to help a person determine their training zones, the fitness purist should  embark on their journey working at a fixed percent of their maximum heart rate – in other words, working at the lower range of the training zone we spoke of earlier.

The quick calculation that many use for their training zone has been taking  220-age =  “a” (number); and then multiplying “a” x .6 (for the lower end of the heart rate), and “a” x .8 for the highest end of the heart rate to yield the training zone, it does not take into account the differences in each persons resting heart rate (RHR) which can vary amongst multiple people of the same age.

Enter, the Kavonen Formula.  In the Karvonen Formula, one of the key factors in determining a persons training zone is establishing a RHR – or resting heart rate.  it then creates a measurable fitness training scenario that has an individual working at anywhere from 60% to 90% of their maximal training rate.  This “stair step” approach to intensity allows those who are fitness minded to approach things safely and systematically.

Let’s use a 25 year old individual to assign this formula to better understand how it works.  This person has a resting heart rate of 65 beats per minute and wants to train at a training intensity of 60%-70% of his maximal heart rate.   As the reader, the only variables you would change, are your age, resting heart rate and percent intensity at which you would want to train,should your body be prepared to exercise beyond 70% intensity:

His Minimum Training Heart Rate:
220 – 25 (Age) = 195
195 – 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .60 (Min. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 143 Beats/Minute

His Maximum Training Heart Rate:
220 – 25 (Age) = 195
195 – 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .70 (Max. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 156 Beats/Minute

His training heart rate zone will therefore be 143-156 beats per minute

For some, this formula might be too complicated, however as a person strives for improvements in their cardiovascular health and efficiency, the smartest and safest way is to do it gradually.

Interested in such benefits as improving fat burning metabolism, better sleep, slowing bone loss, treating or preventing depression and risk of cancer while lowering stress and anxiety?  Improve your heart health and watch it happen.








Bill Victor

Bill Victor, M.S. Exercise Science is the President of Victor Fitness and Performance Training. He and his team of trainers are dedicated to bringing the fitness experience, and the self-confidence that comes with it, to the citizens of Clark County. He can be reached through or his email,

Scroll to top