Max heart rate calculations and RPE applicability

Hi there. A question about max heart rate calculations/estimations. I’m 58 so the formula 220-age would put my max HR at 160 or thereabouts.

There are other more complicated formulas that put my max HR estimation at 170-174. That seems high as in sprint workouts I can drive to 165-168. Should I use this as my max HR?

The reason I ask is that outside I ride RPE and I use HR as a general guide for Training zones. Over time I’ve found a fair bit of consistency and w/o a power meter it gives me a measure

There is a big difference between zone transitions if I use 160 vs 174. Am I better to take my current max drivable HR and use that as my max for my calculations


Those formulas are not appropriate in most cases.

Here is one quick search result, that goes down the Max HR rabbit hole:

Essentially, HR is HIGHLY individual and using formulas is not ideal. It’s likely best to perform a test (as covered in that topic and others) or looking at data from appropriate workouts or high efforts in the recent history.


Hmm, I started using TrainingPeaks (free) back in 2015. One nice feature is that it shows all-time peak 5-sec HR. So you can use that to find your max, I’m a couple years older than you and here is a short list of top

and there is a really long list of 174bpm. Clicking and pulling those up the max for each ride/workout is 175. And for me the max HR is usually hit during a hard sprint following spending 3-5 minutes above threshold.

I’ve never looked to see if TrainerRoad or other tools like or Garmin will automatically search and find your highest 1-sec or 5-sec heart rates. That’s certainly better than trying to use a formula.

Might be a little higher, depending on the specifics of the sprint workout.

Now this advice is easier said than done, I’d try doing a really hard 3-5 minute effort and then sprinting at the end. The kind of thing that naturally happens on some group rides. For what its worth I find it hard to hit my max in a TR ramp test.

Or look for advice in the thread that Chad provided.

If you want to use HR outside, do a lactate threshold HR test. There are various protocols outside. It works pretty well, of course inferior to power.


Yes, good point! A lot of coaches have good reasons for recommending HR zones being based off lactate threshold HR.

Here is one protocol:

And another protocol:

I’ve used both protocols.

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Seconded. I have an athlete I just started working with who is HR only. He had pretty good estimates in Training Peaks for his LTHR, but I had him execute a test and raised his LTHR by 3bpm. (I use the 30 minute test.)

Bang out a LTHR test and eliminate as much error as you can. The formulas are next to worthless.

If you need to know your max HR, there are protocols for that too, but you can get close enough by finding a solid ten minute climb with a kick up to high % grade at the end and hammer it.