Amanda J. Marx1, John P. Porcari1, Scott Doberstein1, Blaine E. Arney1, Susan Bramwell1, Carl Foster1The Accuracy of Heart Rate-Based Zone Training using Predicted versus Measured Maximal Heart Rate1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA.


Introduction: Heart rate (HR) based zone training has become an increasingly popular method of exercise training. However, the use of age-predicted maximal HR as a way to determine training zones has come under scrutiny. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the accuracy of HR-based zone training using predicted maximal heart rate (PMHR) versus measured maximal heart rates (MMHR). Methods: Twenty-six college-aged subjects participated in the current study. Subjects completed two testing sessions: a PMHR-based zone training session and a maximal treadmill test to determine MMHR. The PMHR-based zone training session consisted of seven, 5-minute exercise bouts carried out at various percentages of PMHR. The achieved exercise HRs were then compared to zones that were calculated from MMHR, in order to determine what zone they would have been in if they had used MMHR instead of PMHR for the initial calculations.Results: Eighty-six percent (156/182) of the time subjects were within the correct training zone based upon PMHR. When subjects were not in the correct zone, they were never off by more than one zone and were within 1-4% of the correct zone. Conclusion: The current study suggests that for college-aged students, using PMHR to define training zones is relatively accurate; the majority of the time subjects were in the correct HR-based training zone. However, for those individuals who may not be able to get their HR into the upper zone (i.e., Zone 5), we advise the use of an RPE scale in conjunction with exercise HRin order to prevent overexertion.