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Confused about Karvonen Formula vs. % max(4 posts)

Confused about Karvonen Formula vs. % maxmiguel33
Jan 28, 2003 9:50 AM
There seems to be 2 ways to calculate heart rate zones. One is based on straight % max, the other is based on heart rate reserve (max-morning resting). Having just purchased a HRM, I want to know which one to use, because each method gives me very different results. My max HR (as calculated by polar's fitness test) is 192. My morning resting pulse is 42 (actually a bit lower, but for the purposes of the calculation, it will serve).

Straight % of max 60-70%: 115-133 bpm
Karvonen formula 60-70%: 132-146 bpm

Obviously, the bpm numbers come together toward the top of the range(around 95%), but if I want to ride a recovery day at 60-70% there is a big difference depending on what method I use to determine my "zones." Which do I use?

Furthermore, I don't get what the Karvonen formula really does other than narrow and raise the "zones." For example, say there is some other guy, similar to me but with a higher resting pulse (he's less fit, say: 92) but with the same Max HR. 192-92=100, so 6*10=60+92=152. So this guy's 60-70% range is 152-162bpm. Why does he have to go so hard to just to ride a recovery zone? This is a contrived example, but it helped me to understand what was happening. It doesn't seem like the Karoven formula is that sensitive to small differences in Morning resting HR.

Could anyone help explain? Thanks.
Use karvonenPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 28, 2003 2:38 PM
The % max hr is a formula that companies can put on their excercise equipment so theres little risk of absolutely any person off the street can come in and do heart rate training and not hurt themselves.

The karvonen is the better formula since although I don't know its history I think it has a lot of research done on it. You can tell just by the formulas and I know my coaches with masters degrees in kines told me to use it before I did a VO2 max. As for variations with morning resting heart rate take your resting heart rate when you are most rested and determine the formula from that.

As for max heart rates the % formula is based on especially just from age what you hit is what you hit... its purely genetic and trained. I know I used to have a max hr of 210 when I was 16 but with some endurance training its 193-195 now. Thats almost 10 beats lower than it should be.

Hope this helps.

Use LT/AT as your basis insteadKerry
Jan 28, 2003 5:03 PM
Zone 1 = recovery = 65-75% of AT
Zone 2 = aerobic conditioning = 75-85% of AT
Zone 3 = hard aerobic cond. = 85-90% of AT
Zone 4 = AT intervals = 95-105% of AT
Zone 5 = maximum effort intervals = max

Your AT or LT is your HR during the last 20 minutes of a 30 minute full effort time trial (fully warmed up before the TT).
Aren't there a lot of variables affecting this formula?PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 29, 2003 6:52 AM
Its a great formula especially if you've gotten a VO2 max test. But I'd be more inclined to use the karvonen until I knew for sure I was able to pace myself and had done at least a couple TT's to see where my heart rate settled. From my non-endurance angle when I've done longer TT's it hasn't been pretty... I never really saw my LT just my max heart rate.