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Determining Your Exercise Intensity

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We are proud to know and work with Dr. Kraemer, one of the world's top research scientists.  Dr. Kraemer is Professor of Kinesiology, Professor of Physiology and Neurobiology, Professor of Medicine, is past president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, is the current Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and has even done research for NASA!   Dr. Kraemer has worked closely with Kiana Tom, providing research and the latest health & fitness studies for "Kiana's Flex Appeal" ESPN and Fit Mom TV.

Areas of Expertise: Exercise Endocrinology, Exercise & Aging, Exercise & Nutrition, Resistance Exercise/Training, Exercise & Women, Sports Medicine, Strength & Conditioning, Youth Fitness, Physical Performance, Sports Medicine

Determining Your Exercise Intensity for Cardiovascular Exercise

Well you have been getting a start by walking and just starting an exercise habit before you really get started with a more intense exercise program.  You have gotten a clear bill of health from your physician and some of you may have even taken an exercise stress test which evaluated you heart function as well as your cardiovascular fitness and then you know exactly what your maximal heart you can exercise at.

While intensity classifications are somewhat vague in the above cardiovascular fitness recommendations, cardiovascular exercise intensity can be more precisely measured by monitoring exercising heart rate.  A personalized target heart rate training zone can be calculated by using what is called the “Karvonen (sounds like car-vonin formula”.  It will take a little work from a math perspective but the effort is well worth it as it will allow you to set your cardiovascular workout range more specifically for you.  From this you will find a target heart rate range to exercise within.   For example the target might be 40-50% for a low intensity workout, 60-70% for a moderate exercise intensity workout, and 80-90% for a high intensity interval type workout.

To calculate Target Heart Rate Range

Step 1: Measure Resting Heart Rate  (Resting HR)

Step 2: Estimate Maximal Heart Rate (Max HR)

(208 – (0.7 x age)

Step 3: Calculate Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) = (Max HR) – (Resting HR)

Step 4: Take 60% and 80% of HRR

* depending on desired exercise intensity examples given above

Step 5: Add each HRR value to resting

HR to calculate THR Range


Step 1: Resting HR = 60 bpm

Step 2: Estimate Max HR (40 year old):

208 – (0.7 x 40) = 192 bpm

Step 3: Calculate Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) =  (Max HR) – (Resting HR)

HRR = 192 – 60 = 132 bpm

Step 4: Take 60% and 80% of HRR

60% x 132 bpm = 79.2

80% x 132 bpm = 105.6

Step 5: Add each HRR value to resting

HR to calculate THR Range

60 bpm + 79.2 bpm = 139.2 bpm

60 bpm + 105.6 bpm = 165.6 bpm

Target Heart Rate Range  = 139 – 165 bpm


1 Discussion on “Determining Your Exercise Intensity”
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