Heart Rate Zone Formula:

I’ll be as clear as I can about how this works. This will not be a scholarly explanation but should make the math a bit clearer.


  1. You should know how old you are … that will be your age. I know, I know but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this the way it’s meant.
  2. Your resting heart rate is how many times in one minute your heart beats while at rest. You could get this number a few ways, but I said I’ll keep this simple so here goes. As soon as you wake up and before you put your feet on the floor in the morning, time yourself taking your own heart rate for one full minute. Make sure you’re counting the heart beats and not the second hand or the digital seconds on the clock or watch you’re using. You get your heart beat at your wrist or in the “dent” of your neck next to your windpipe. Use the pads of your finger tips to cover more area and use as many nerve endings as possible. Don’t use your thumb as you have a pulse in it already.
  3. Plug in the numbers in the appropriate place in the formula and you’re off like a shot.

You’ve probably seen or even used this formula before and maybe you’ve seen the resting heart rate component before. If not, then here is a bit of new information. Your numbers will tighten up and be “customized” to you when using your hear rate. Let’s say you – a healthy and fit individual - and a much deconditioned person are the same age. You would invariably have a lower resting hear rate than your counterpart, but using the old formula – 220 minus your age without taking into consideration your lower hear rate because you are in better shape – the two of you would share the same workout numbers. Your highs and lows would be the exact same. Try it; you’ll see what I’m saying. Just make up a resting heart rate say … 75 and run both formulas, with and without the rest hear rate component and you’ll see the difference.  

Now look at the math below …

220 – age = A

A – resting heart rate = B

B x .50 + resting heart rate

       .60           “

       .70           “

       .80           “

       .90           “

Let’s see this worked out with a person that’s 40 years old and a resting heart rate of 55.

220 – 40 = 180

180 – 55 = 125

125 x .50 + 55 = 117.5 / 118

125 x .60 + 55 = 130

125 x .70 + 55 = 142.5 / 143

125 x .80 + 55 = 155

125 x .90 + 55 = 167.5 / 168

A typical interval workout might go as follows:

5 minute warm-up @ 50% / .504 minutes @ 60% / .60

3 minutes @ 70% ( first interval)

2 minutes @ 60% ( this will be your recovery pace)2 minutes @ 80% interval2 minutes @ 60% recovery2 minutes @ 80% interval 2 minutes @ 60% recovery2 minutes @ 80% interval

2 minutes @ 60% recovery

2 minutes @ 80% interval

You can hold this pattern of interval (80%) and recovery (60%) for as long as you want. You can even change every other interval to 90%. A proper cool down will go something like this;

2 minutes @ 60%2 minutes @ 70%3 minutes @ 60%

5 minutes @ 50%

This particular program works out to be 40 minutes long but can be expanded and customized to your needs or liking and can be adapted to any exercise, walking to biking etc.

The red is the main part of the workout. You can make this as long or as short and intense as you want.  The blue is warm up and cool down.