I recommend you stay away from calculating max heart rate with your older /special population clients because they may be taking medications that slow HR. in that instance it wont be accurate and the RPE scale and/or Talk Test is better.
The problem with THR calculations is that they assume the higher the HR, the harder the exercise. while this does make some sense, they don’t take into consideration how the exercise feels. Ive seen people who looked fit and healthy get pooped out by 60% of max HR! In them, even that relatively moderate exercise was perceived by them to be “high intensity.”
the RPE scale / talk test is a much better way to do things because they are more personalized
That said, be aware there is another max HR equation that is a little different than “220-age” that you may want to take a look at. Here is my review of it:
If you have clients who can feel how hard they are working, then RPE or the talk test is an easy way to gauge their effort level. I’ve had only a few clients who can’t feel how hard they’re working – usually a new exerciser who is less self aware or because everything is “hard,” they don’t distinguish between cardiovascular intensity and muscular effort.
Sometimes I don’t tell clients about the talk test. I give myself the listen test. This works even for people who aren’t self aware because I’m observing them rather than them self-reporting.
I ask them open ended questions so that they talk to me. If they can tell me their entire life story, I know that they’re not very challenged cardio-wise. If they’re conversing but breathing harder than normal, then they’re about mid-range in their heart rate target zone. If they can answer me in one or two words before having to breathe, they’re in the lower end of their anaerobic abilities. If they’re sucking wind and can’t talk to me at all, they’re working mostly anaerobically and I don’t keep them there for long.
Much easier than taking a heart-rate.
Hello Annette Eliza,
You have wonderful detailed answers. I use a combination of the MHR, THR, talk test and RPE so the client has different measurements to gauge how they feel, since everyone thinks their own way. It is important to keep an eye on them since not all clients know when or want to slow down when necessary. The Karvonen formula seems to have the smallest error margin.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.