# How is Heart Rate (HR) zones calculated in Strava?

What exactly is the formula used for calculation the heart rate zone in Strava? Its says based on Max Heart Rate, but I can't a formula/calculator the give the same values.

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• I am 54 as well and my (measured) maximum heart rate is 184. So 190 is not impossible. However, if you read Todd's post, he did measure in the high 180's and possibly 190. If that's true, than he should leave the 190 as value and take the zone's as calculated by Strava. Or define his own.

I personally looked at heart rates quite a bit, did lots of calculations, looked at a zillion websites all defining the zones different, defined my own zones in Strava and found mysefl not using these zones at all. As a mountainbiker (without owning a road bike) there is no way I can train using these zones. It is used to calculate the Relative Effort, which I do use.

• hi everyone.

you could try this online calculator http://healthiack.com/heart-rate-zone-calculator#calculator since it uses the same formula as Strava does (also the same formula used by the American Heart Association). it uses your sex & age as input - just like in the strava settings (age is generated from your birth date).

Just be informed that this is just an approximation. If you want an accurate result - please consult a professional. And if you take high blood pressure medications, this will lower your maximum heart rate and thus the target zone rate. If you're taking such medicine, call your physician to find out if you need to use a lower target heart rate.

i entered my data and it showed a similar result compared to what Strava is using.

the only difference is the grouping & naming convention used for the Zones:

* Moderate zone in Strava is 1 zone but in the online calculator, it's split into 2 zones - Moderate  IntensityIntense.

* No anaerobic > 180 bpm (> 100%) in the online calculator

Hope this helps.

• I don't think the heart rate calculator daRny is referring to is what Strava uses. To begin with, Strava calculates the HR based on your max heart rate, which you need to fill in. This is actually one step better than the calculator from healthiack.com. That one uses your age to calculate the maximum heart rate based on the formula: 220-age. This is a very, very broad assumption. For example, I am 53 years old. My measured max heart rate is 184 bpm. According to the formula, this should be 167.

• Steve Hopkins Beware that if you measure your heart rate with an optical sensor on a Garmin watch you may have spikes in your HR graph which the Garmin app/site marks as maximum. It happens sometimes with my Forerunner 35 when it moves a bit on my wrist during walking activities, although I wear the strap in the proper way.

The only accurate measurement is with a chest strap, I'm using a Wahoo Tickr.

HR-Max = 220 - age is not accurate at all, there are many scientific articles about proper formulas but any answer is +/- 15 BPM so the only way is measure it yourself or with a proper sports test.

Last year, riding my road bike, fully warmed up and having a good condition, I made an ultimate sprint for one minute going to the max. My HR measured with the body strap clipped at 177 BPM at the age of 55.

• Strava doesn't check the support community? I like to know the answer to that question as well. :)

• Got an answer from Strava. It's calculated simply by HRmax = 220 - age. No difference between women and men and it is set once, you have to adjust it manually when you get older or whenever you measure a higher rate during cycling.

•  Just set your HRmax to 220 - 49 manually Lee Shephard unless you measure a higher rate during a field test. Several testing methods to determine your real HRmax can be found on the internet. Only try this when you have a good condition!

• Yes, in Strava you can edit your max heart rate or set custom heart rate zones. If you have not done this, it's possible it sets a default based on your age, but go to your settings>my performance and you can edit it there.

• This article says that the zones come from the "British Cycling Heart Rate Zones", but it is missing the first two zones.

http://www.flammerouge.je/faqs/faqs_stravazones.htm

• Hello everyone,

I just started riding with a heart rate monitor (Wahoo Tickr). I'm a 53 year old male and Strava default sets my max. HR at 177 which I can not reproduce with any formula.

The heart rate zones also seem a bit strange to me compared to for example Karvonen who includes rest HR.

Zone 1 more looks like recovery to me...

• I have a similar issue Strava set my max HR at 190 and I'm 49.

• Just upgraded to Strava premium and was studying the heart rate zones I was cycling in. They seem way off according to published standards. For example, tonight's ride shows I was in zone 3 "tough" at 148-166 bpm "based on a Max heart rate of 190 bpm". However, although I'm 52 and my birthday is in Strava correctly, I cannot imagine my Max heart rate should be 190. According to the calculator recommended above, my average Max would be 170, (using all the various formulas combined I guess is how they figure that out). I've never done a field test and I'm not a professional athlete. I'm a club rider and I do some racing, but still 190 bpm seems pretty nuts. I've measured in the high 180's, possibly 190 cycling under extreme effort, but I'm most comfortable in the 150 to 160 range. Once I go over 160, say up to about 169, I feel pretty roasted and don't maintain that effort without my legs feeling like jelly. I'm gonna manually change mine to Max 170 and see how it all measures out... That seems more realistic. I think its pretty lame that Strava is so super sophisticated but doesn't include an automatic heart rate based on age. Unless, without me knowing it its somehow measuring my Max bpm differently in the background. Sure wish that was clearly explained working the app though.

• Hi Todd,

A max HR of 190 at your age is nonsense. Once I got premium last year I started with 220-54=166 for my age. This value differs for each person of course, it's an approximation. So I did a simple test. While having a pretty good condition already in the end of the summer and no health issues I drove 25 km at my road bike first at an average tempo. Next I increased speed for 5 minutes and next I went driving full power as fast as I could against the 4 Beaufort wind for 5 minutes feeling completely exhausted after this 5 minutes and gasping of course. Kept on driving home at average speed after the test. My HR meter (Wahoo Tickr) registered a peak HR of 174 and I have kept this value until now.

Warning: Only try this method if you have no health issues and having a descent condition. Warm up first to prevent muscle injuries.

Sorry for my English, I'm Dutch. Guess my story is clear.

Regards, Folkert

• Be sure to measure heart rate with a proper strap on your body. Optical wrist devices appeared to be inaccurate for me especially when riding my bike (holding arm a bit down).

• Probably a dead thread, but I recently figured something out.  The 220-age formula is an approximation of your AVERAGE maximum heart rate.  It doesn't describe the fastest your heart can beat.  It tells you how fast your heart can beat over the course of an averaged effort.

My age is 42.6, and my max heart rate is 197.

Looking at a recent ride @216 relative effort, my average heart rate is 176.  Based on my age, my max AVERAGE heart rate should be 220 - 42.6, or 177.4.

• Er.. also, I'm not sure what the Strava heart rate calculations are based on.  I can't match them with anything.  If anyone has figured this out.. please respond!

• My estimated max. HR according to Strava is 220 - 55 = 165 but during a fieldtest my max. HR was measured 177 with a body strap HR meter (Wahoo Tickr).

So I set the max. HR in my profile to 177 and next Strava set the zones automatically to:

Z1 < 104 (< 59%)
Z2 104 - 138 (59 - 78%)
Z3 138 - 154 (78 - 87%)
Z4 154 - 171 (87 - 96.6%)
Z5 > 171 (>96.6%)

Pretty strange ranges in my honest opinion.

So I ignore them and use the Karvonen calculator which takes into accout the resting heartrate which I measure from time to time when I wake up.

• When I was 54 I did a full lab workup.  My HR Max, measured in a lab (including VO2Max, lactate threshold) was 194.  At that time, my half-marathon time was about 2:20.

One's theoretical max is a given, and not, per se. "trainable."  It is  impossible for an unfit person to actually reach their physiology's theoretical max---they simply cannot work hard enough for long enough to get it there.  HR max slowly declines with age.

• Maybe it’s too simplistic but what’s wrong with using the max value produced by your HR monitor?

• Randall Bell

If one can't do an actual lab test (with VO2Max) etc., then using the max from your monitor is good.

Note, though, that you ought to use a simple protocol to try to get it there.

Something like:

Very easy 10 minute warm up

400m at a moderate pace

400m at tempo pace

400M at something like your fastest 5k pace

400M at maximum possible speed/anaerobic.

The highest number recorded in that last lap is good enough for most of us, and MUCH better than using the ancient age and gender-based formula.

Ken

• This is a well respected resource and a pretty comprehensive page, plus it describes a (horrific... they're all horrific) simple test to work out your actual and exact max HR https://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/hrmax

• Last year I did a lab test, which I can recommend to anyone of any age/condition who is serious about training or just curious about his/her physical condition and limits. It cost me about 200 euro's (Netherlands), but insurance covered 170 of that. So for 30 euro's it is well worth it.

Anyway, they tested lactate, HR, VO2max, breathing etc. Really interesting results. But the point to make here is that my HR zones are very, very narrow according to the lab test. Say I want to train just below treshold, I would need to stay in a bandwith of just 5 beats. This is very difficult to do unless you're a professional athlete (which I am not).

The advice was to train not in zones, but rather in speed. So for my intervals I now know I have to run faster than a certain km/h to improve.

As for the Strava zones, I tried to set them with the custom sliders. But it cannot even be adjusted this narrow. So this is basically useless to me. But then again, I now only look for the speed.

In a few months I will do a new test to see if the required speed needs to be adjusted.

TLDR; do a lab test and adjust your training accodingly. The 220-age rule works for maybe 60-70% of the population but differences can be substantial.

• Strava set my Max HR to 178 and I'm 49. I also can't find how they come up with this number. I found an interesting article that claims the 220-age is not accurate if you're older than 30. Using the calculator from the site listed below comes pretty close to my number on Strava, but I've seen others at 49 years old with different numbers so I'm wondering if Strava looks at your past HR data and adjusts??

I just looked at all my activities in Garmin connect and my highest reading was 199 then 190 was the next highest so now I'm more confused.

https://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/hrmax#:~:text=Based%20on%20these%20tests%20we,211%20%2D%200.64*age%22.

• @Folkert

Great idea to note the issue with optical. I’ve only ever used Polar with strap, so I forget to mention that.

Steve,

You may know this re: maximum so forgive me.

An individual’sTheoretical maximum is given at birth.

An unfit person won’t be able to exercise long enough or hard enough to reach their theoretical maximum.

One’s maximum heart rate has little, if anything to do with how well one might perform.

Knowing one’s actual maximum IS helpful when setting training zones.

I was glad I did the testing and will do it again at some point.

• There are different formula for calculating MHR. The simple age calculation is as others have pointed out is just a very rough guide. Your height, weight, gender and resting heart rate can all affect your max heart rate.

I'm 49 and have a theoretical max of 171 using 220 - age, but am often running in the mid 170s when I am pushing hard.

Thus for myself I use the HEIL method for calculating MHR. For men this calculation is

211.415 - (0.5 * age) - (0.05 * weight in lbs) + 4.5

Which for me gives a MHR of 184 which I believe is far more accurate based on my perceived effort at running at various target zones.

• Anders,

I have the same issue...though the Strava values make sense.