The Karvonen Formula

The Karvonen Formula is based on the fact that exercise training load can be expressed as a percentage of the heart rate reserve- the difference between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate.

The Polar website has a detailed definition of the Karvonen Formula: Heart Rate Reserve Calculation

I’ve found that the Karvonen Formula combined with the idea of Heart Rate Zones, determined by using the Karvonen Formula, are an effective way to manage exercise intensity.

Here’s a spreadsheet that you can download and modify for your own use: HR Zone Training Spreadsheet

If you have a heart rate monitor, or take your pulse, you can determine your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate.  Alternatively, you can use these averages from www.heart.org based upon your age:  Target Heart Rates

These training concepts are detailed in Training for the New Alpinism.  Different sports require different types of exercise.  Endurance sports emphasize “lower” heart rates (but still above your resting heart rate) and sports emphasizing strength or short, fast bursts of speed emphasize “higher” heart rates (a.k.a. high intensity).  In addition to training for your desired sport, you need to identify your Achilles heel.

I enjoy hiking, scrambling, and skiing in the mountains but I spend my week at a sedentary desk job.  So, perhaps not surprisingly, I need to train for endurance with long easy distance (LED).

Quality Concepts – Plan, Do, Study, Act (The Shewhart Cycle)

  1. Plan:
    1. Identify your Goal
    2. Find a performance metric or key performance indicator
  2. Do: Measure the performance metric
  3. Study: Compare to Goal
  4. Act: Identify areas for improvement & repeat

Free spreadsheet!

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Next blog: The Foundation & 5 Pillars

Last blog: Fitness First



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