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Is it bad to go above my target heart rate range?

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So I am 5'4 and weigh 149 and have lost around 23 pounds. I decided to join the gym to help me lose the rest and get into shape. I also bought a Polar heart rate monitor to keep track of my heart rate and calories burned. I entered my age, weight, gender and birthday and it gave me a range of 129-169 bpm. The thing is it was so easy for me get above my heart rate that I had to keep it to a walk/jog on the treadmill instead of a run. Would it be bad to be above my target heart rate for my work outs? I just feel like it's too easy when I'm in my range. 

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I too have wondered at this. A problem with these ranges is that they are not that accurate. I got given a heart  rate monitor and I've started using it. The trouble was, I didn't know what my maximum heart rate was. There is the standard 220-age calculation which yields 183 for me. Unfortunately, I hit about 198 within 5 minutes of starting some serious (serious for me, that is!) running. So I should be dead, right?

I've come to the concusion that the heart rate ranges are a guideline only. The only way to figure out what your maximum heart rate is through  some uncomfortable testing. I've not been able to go above 200 bps in all this time, so I'm assuming that is close to my maximum. A walk/jog seems to be the best way to start out. Otherwise you have to go very slowly.

On a positive note, I think I'm beginning to improve. I'm still doing the walk/run thing but my heart's not going above 185 bps. I can do that for longer. Hooray!


It is not a problem to go over your heart rate given by the HRM.  If the model you have has a "own zone" option maybe use that instead of the defaul 220- age set by the standards.

Training zones are suggestions.  Ihad to readjust my polar so it would let me train above 156 cause many times my heart rate goes to 163- 167 and I'm 51


Cut and paste from here -

Calculation of Maximum Heart Rate

The easiest and best known method to calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) is to use the formula

  • MHR = 220 - Age
Dr. Martha Gulati et al

Research conducted by Gulati et al. (2010) [3] identified that the traditional male-based calculation (220-age) overestimates the maximum heart rate for age in women. They investigated the association between HR response to exercise testing and age with 5437 women. It was found that mean peak heart rate for women = 206 - (0.88 x age).

Londeree and Moeschberger

A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) [2] from the University of Missouri-Columbia indicates that the MHR varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. They suggest an alternative formula of

  • MHR = 206.3 - (0.711 × Age)

Londeree and Moeschberger (1982) looked at other variables to see if they had any effect on the MHR. They found that neither sex nor race makes any difference but they did find that the MHR was affected by the activity and levels of fitness.

Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5 to 6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2 to 3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a MHR 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher MHR than that which is average for their age.

Miller et al

A paper by Miller et al. (1993) [4] proposed the following formula as a suitable formula to calculate MHR

  • MHR = 217 - (0.85 x Age)
USA Researchers

Evidence from USA researchers, Jackson et al. (2007) [5], identified the following formula as more accurately reflecting the relationship between age and maximum heart rate.

  • MHR = 206.9 - (0.67 x age)
UK Researchers

Research by Whyte et al. (2008) [7] came up with with the following formulae for predicting maximum heart rates in both endurance and anaerobically trained athletes:

  • Male athletes - MHR = 202 - (0.55 x age)
  • Female athletes - MHR = 216 - (1.09 x age)
Miller, Londeree and Moeschberger

To determine your maximum heart rate you could use the following, which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.

  • Use the Miller formula of MHR = 217 - (0.85 × age) to calculate MHR
  • Subtract 3 beats for elite athletes under 30
  • Add 2 beats for 50 year old elite athletes
  • Add 4 beats for 55+ year old elite athletes
  • Use this MHR value for running training
  • Subtract 3 beats for rowing training
  • Subtract 5 beats for bicycle training

They have an online calculator for all of the above at the link I gave.

For Sydney that last suggestion gives 217-(.85x21) = 199 for running training, 196 for rowing, and 194 for cycling

For Linden that gives 186 for running, 183 for rowing and 181 for cycling.

They DO quote that "Maximum heart rate (MHR) can be predicted using a formula but the variation in actual MHR of 95% of individuals of a given age will lie within a range of ±20 beats/minute" - so if you are within 10 or so of the given figure I wouldn't panic too much

So firstly, congrats on the weight loss so far! As for your question, I personally wouldn't be too concerned about staying within your "target" heart rate. For one thing, I think that unless you have heart-related health concerns, monitoring how hard you feel you are working and how long you'd be able to keep up working at that rate is the best indication of where to pitch your exercise. But I do understand that it is handy in terms of calories burned, etc.

As mentioned, accuracy could be an issue but also you might want to look at what the target is based on. A lot of gyms/machines have charts outlining target heart rates and view the optimum as a "fat-burning zone" that requires you to work at a moderate, steady rate for a long time. If that's the kind of cardio you enjoy then great, but if you like running and are capable of doing it, then stick with it! 

No, it is not bad.  You cannot exceed your maximum heart rate and for some exercises, like HIIT, the whole point is to get your heart rate as high as you possibly can.

As noted above, you can predict you Max Heart Rate with formulas but the margin of error is so great that it renders the results useless.

Cardio is exercising your heart.

I like to use the HRM are comparing one exercise to another: say hiking vs elliptical.

I typicallly aim for a certain average HR over a certain time: say average HR of xx for 20 minutes

My HRM gives me a timed weight average and this along with the duration of the workout is a great way to measure one activity against another.

Original Post by trhawley:

As noted above, you can predict you Max Heart Rate with formulas but the margin of error is so great that it renders the results useless.

 +1  MHR is at best a guess.

All of those formulas above give my MHR at about 165.  But when I run a marathon my HR will be 170 to 172  ...   and stays there for 3 1/2 hours.  My Resting HR is only 38.  No formula ever projects my MHR that high or my RHR that low.

I do not buy into limiting my workout to some artificial, generic HR number.  Just go ahead and workout hard.  You will know when you should slow down.

As said above, don't really worry about going over. I'm a 26 year old female with a MHR of about 200 (as determined from some time with a trainer). The 220-age is reasonably close, but the additional studies of it over-estimating in females would predict even lower.

Thanks for all your responses! I am so new to the whole exercising thing so I am a little lost. Which one was the fat burning zone though? Isn't it in the target heart rate range. And when jogging/walking for an hour on the treadmill my heart rate monitor says i burned about 600 calories while the treadmill says I burned a 150 haha quite a difference. Which one would you go with?

What kind of HRM do you have?  I know you said a polar but which model.  does it also allow for your height?  Is there a fitness test (VO2max) test on it as well?  

Polars are notorious for not giving females a very accurate calorie burn, however machines are worse especially if you can't input your vital stats.

The "fat burn zone" is the lower range, but it's also kind of pointless burn-zone-ft28756 this thread has a list to other threads about heart rate zones that might help you decide.

since you were jogging and walking on the treadmill for an hour the 600 maybe high but I think the 150 is very low.


I have the polar FT4F heart rate monitor. I got it from amazon, here is the link r-Watch/dp/B0031ZK84E/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_to p  I don't think it has the fitness test on it but I am still getting used to it. It seems like a beginner basic one though. I had the treadmill settings on 3.5% incline and an average of 3.5 speed (since I was nervous of going out of my target heart rate range at the time). I thought 600 seemed a little high but I don't know  the average calorie burned for that anyways but 150 definitely seemed low. I mean I definitely felt like I burned more. Ick it's all so confusing. 


I don't pay any attention to calories burned on any machine or HRM.

I track the duration and frequency of my cardio sessions (be it walking, hiking, treadmill, elliptical) along with the average heart rate for each session. I am trying to slowly increase the total volume of work over time as measured by minutes at a certain HR rather than miles jogged or laps swam or miles walked.

I track my calories and strive for a daily calorific deficit of ~500 below maintenance for a sedentary person with my age and gender.

I don't try to "take credit" for any calories  burned in my diet.

I weigh in and measure waist and neck once a week.  These three numbers are my ultimate measure of "how many calories I burned".

Original Post by sydney114:

And when jogging/walking for an hour on the treadmill my heart rate monitor says i burned about 600 calories while the treadmill says I burned a 150 haha quite a difference. Which one would you go with?

The HRM.  I run a lot.  I run fairly fast.  I burn about 140 to 150 calories per mile.  I can burn as much as 1,000 to 1,200 calories in an hour.  No way would I think that even jogging would burn only 150 cals per hour.

I am still confused, My maximum heart rate is 199. I easily get around 190 just jogging/walking 4.0 mph on the treadmill. Everywhere I read it says that that's so high and I shouldn't remain in that percentile for long but unless I want to be walking 2 mph on the treadmill the whole time it's kinda hard not to end up in that 90% area. If it's so hard why can I so easily achieve this? Is it because I am out of shape and the more I work out the harder it will be to get my heart rate up? I don't know how I am ever going to improve my running distance/speed if I keep under these guidelines. 

199 is likely not you max heart rate. It's only the estimate based on your age. Therefore, you aren't actually in the 90% range -- there's no way you could sustain that for 2 hours.

As you work out more, my guess is that your heart rate won't go as high when you are on the treadmill.  But that doesn't mean that your max heart rate will have decreased - it just means that you have to keep working even harder to get your heart rate up to the level that YOU know that you can sustain.

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