Chances are, you’ve never heard of the Karvonen Equation. If you’re serious about working out to lose weight and get fit, however, this equation can help you determine your target heart rate. This is the sweet spot you need to achieve during exercise for it to be the most effective.
The Karvonen Equation is as follows: MHR-RHR x Intensity + RHR
MHR stands for “maximum heart rate.” This is the maximum amount of heartbeats per minute that is safe for you. The most common formula to determine this is 220 minus your age. So if you are 20 years old, your MHR would be 200.
RHR stands for resting heart rate. This is, of course, your heart rate when you’re at rest. The best time to measure this is when you’ve just woken up in the morning. After meditation is also a good time to get this rate, but you can measure it during any restful time. You should use a stopwatch or have someone help you because this makes it so you can focus entirely on your counting and not watching the clock. Begin by finding a good and accurate point from which to take your pulse. You can find the pulse in your neck easily by humming, then finding the vibration of your voice box with your fingers. Then move your fingers into the hollow to the right of this. This is the easiest way to find your carotid artery. Press lightly until you can feel the pulse. Set your stopwatch for 60 seconds, or have your partner watch the clock for you, and count every time you feel your heartbeat. At the end of the time you will have your RHR to plug into the equation.
Intensity is how hard you want to be working out. The recommended intensity is between 60 and 80 percent of your heart rate preserve. Hitting this target heart rate will give you the most benefit when you exercise. You don’t want to push yourself beyond this point. Working out with less intensity will benefit you, of course, but hitting between 60 and 80 percent will give your heart and lungs the best workout and will help you lose weight more easily.
So you now have all of the numbers that you need to find your target heart rate. For the sake of example, let’s say that you are 30. So to find your MHR you will need to subtract 30 from 220. This gives you 190 as your MHR. Now let’s say your RHR is 36bpm (beats per minute.) This means the first part of your equation would be 190 (MHR) – 36(RHR). This gives you 154. Multiply that by 60 percent. This equals 92.4. Add your RHR to that. So 60 percent intensity means a target heart rate of 128.4.
Using the Karvonen Equation you can easily determine what your target heart rate needs to be while you are working out.