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How bad is it to go above your "maximum heart rate"?

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Because I actually decided to check while I was running last week, and it kept staying around 210-220.  All I did was the counting-by-hand method, because I don't have a monitor.  I was running at 6 mph for 40 minutes, and I checked after every ten minutes (because I took a 1-minute break).  After the first period it was around 200, then 205, then between 210 and 220.
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I can never do the count by hand method.  I can't seem to count that fast or don't "feel" all the pulses so I sometimes wonder how accurate that measure really is.

You don't have a profile set up so how old are you?  How long have you been working out?  What is your 90% heart rate zone based on the basic formula?  How much higher are you going?  What is your resting heart rate?  All these and many other factors can come into play. 

Using myself as an example.  My resting hr is 58 by "highest rate" I should go to is 174 my HRM has my max zone at 153 - 156 but I can go up to 175 and although be out of breath and working very hard I don't feel dizzy or sick or anything when I reach this point.  But I have also been exercising for over 2 years. 

The one thing to be concerned about if you go too high is it can cause heart muscle strain and then your sort of SOL.  I'd say maybe drop your effort down a notch especially if you are new to this venture
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Did you feel faint? Pass out? If not then it's okay -)

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As I understand it .... you can't go over your maximum heart rate, b/c it is 'the maximum rate at which your heart beats' period! 

Can I suggest that the calculation that you used to calculate your mhr is only an estimation, and actually the only way to get a true mhr reading is to see a specialised Dr and doing specific exercises to determine your own MHR.

 I would seriously recommend buying yourself a heart rate moniter if you are interested in using your heart rate as an exercise tool, they are relatively inexpensive these days and I wouldn't be without mine now!  I have never had my mhr determined but read that one method of getting a ballpark figure is to run about 5k at your normal pace and then for the last 5 minutes run as fast as you can.... checking to see the highest heart rate shown and then add 4 to that figure if you are a woman and I think 5 if you are a man and that will be approximately your MHR.

 I read a really good book on heart rate training by a lady called Sally Edwards.... very informative, it changed the way I trained completely!
Hope this is of some help.
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Sally Edwards' Heart Zone Training:Exercise Smart, StayFit and Live Longer or
The Heart Rate Guidebook to Heart Zone Training by Sally Edwards
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I'm 17 years old and male, so my 90% interval (based on the sites I went to) wsa around 174.  My resting heart rate is usually around 68-72.  So I'm apparently going about 40 over.  Which doesn't quite seem right.  I work out usually at least 3 times a week, usually closer to five.  (Weights three times a week, with running/biking thrown in).  I usually only run/bike at night, but I don't really know if that would make a difference.  I usually don't run that much, though.  I usually only run for 1 10-minute mile, and bike for ten miles (in 35 minutes).
I'm also a vegetarian, I'm not sure what out of all this matters, but I want to throw it all out there.  I might be hypoglycemic, I get dizzy a lot, ranomly.  I'm usually fine, I just make sure that once I've started eating for the day, I eat at regular intervals.  I usually eat about 5 small meals a day.
salo, If you can find the book molly is telling you about at the library or at a book store, buy it and read it, I have her (sally Edwards) books on heart rate for cycling and it is indeed a great book to learn how to train with monitors and HR in general.

That said, keep in mind there are many factors that effect HR, so all the formulas you hear about are just good quesses.  The best way to find out is through a doctor doing a stress test or holter monitor.  But you can find yours, if you are in good shape, and most are just like you said, run hard and the highest number you get is going to be close, the trick is being able to push yourself that hard!!

As you get in better shape you will find it harder to reach that same number, as when you first started, because the heart is a muscle and as you train it get stronger and doesn't have to work as hard to do the same work as when you first get into excersising.

my tested MHR is 175, I'm 51, and 140 pds, my resting is 38, (tested by a doctor and is extemely low) but to reach 175 is a monumental effort because of my conditioning, most of the time you just want to work in what they call your training zone or your aerobic zone for me that is around 131.  Working at your max is only for very specfic types of training because your body goes anearobic at MHR, meaning you don't use oxygen to produce energy and this is very stresful on your body.

As for being a vegan, are you being careful to make sure you are getting enough of the right proteins?  This is very important as you workout and this puts a lot of demand on your muscles and they need that protein to repair themslves after a workout.
The 220 - your age is just an extimate. It varies amongst different people, different levels of fitness etc.
I'm 41 and they reccomend I excercise my heart in the 135 to ??? range for aerobic exercise.... Hmmm, well my resting rate is around 60 but I can't seem to get my exercise rate beyond 120 bpm (according to the heart rate monitor). Maybe it's only because I'm doing 30 mins a day?  I remember years ago that on the stairmaster I would get there initially when I started, but after awhile I had the same issues on that too.  I guess my body just adapts well to the exercise I'm doing?

The reason for my reply, I wish I had concerns about going too high...
Vaguy - the more we work out and get in better condition the harder it is to get to a higher heart rate.  I know for me walking rarely gets my heart rate over 100 - I usually hve to jog a bit to get my heart rate up there and then walk really fast and find steep hills to keep it going.  105 is my minimum "fat burning" zone.
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During my senior year of high school I was consistently going over my "max heart rate" as shown by gym equiptment monitors. I was going to be participating in crew in college so the summer before I left my mom made me go take a stress test with a cardiologist. Basically, at 18 my heart rate would hit 205 within 2 minutes of starting a hard workout (running/stairmaster), while my supposed max heart rate was 202 (220-age=MHR). I didn't feel faint or dizzy, and I didn't even feel like I was working out that hard. Basically the cardiologist said that my heart was perfectly fine, and that some people just hit consistently higher numbers and it isn't better or worse than "normal." If you're really worried about hitting the higher number, like you feel faint or dizzy, I would get it checked out, if not, you can get it checked out anyway just to make sure, but chances are its normal and your heart just hits higher numbers like mine.

Have you recently had a physical? If not, I would suggest one now and let your doctor know what you are experiencing. The dizziness at random times and the very high heart rate could be a clue that there is something else going on.  Not sure about the max heart rate for exercising, but if you do exercise regularly and you haven't just started (and gone too fast or too much at once), I would be concerned about a heart rate that high for normal exercise.

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