Exercise Target Heart Rate (THR)

Our exercise Target Heart Rate (THR) helps us to properly pace ourselves during our workout routine. This is especially important if we are just starting a new fitness program.

Resting Pulse Rate (RPR)

We first need to determine our Resting Pulse Rate (RPR). The best time to check our pulse is before we get out of bed in the morning. We count the number of pulses in one full minute. We then take the average over a four-day period to determine our RPR.

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Maximum Pulse Rate (MPR)

We next need to determine our Maximum Pulse Rate (MPR). We determine our MPR by subtracting our age from 220. For example, if you are 50 years old, your MPR is 220 - 50 or 170.

Level Of Workout Intensity

We now need to determine our level of workout intensity. If we are just starting a fitness program, we should aim for a 50% level of intensity. After six months of a workout routine, we may be able to aim for a 85% level of intensity.

THR Equation

THR = RPR + 50% TO 85% (MPR - RPR)

As an example, let's use a 50-year old with a 60 beat per minute resting pulse rate wanting to workout at a 50% intensity. Her THR is

THR = 60 + 0.50 (170 - 60) or 115 beats per minute.

At a 85% intensity workout, her THR is

THR = 60 + 0.85 (170 - 60) or 153 beats per minute.


We can use a monitor to show us our pulse rate while working out. The finger monitors that come with some workout equipment are not very accurate. The more accurate devices use a chest strap that transmits the results to a wrist watch type of monitor.

Some of the more popular models are

  • the Polar F51
  • the Garmin Forerunner 50
  • the Omron HR-100C
  • and the Timex T5G971.

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