Exceeding maximum heart rate

I recently bought a heart rate monitor so I could see how hard I was working and be make sure I wasn't taking it too easy!

I woked out my maximum heart rate using 220 minus my age(33)=187. I was alarmed to see after an easy run, on which I was able to talk all the way, my maximum heart rate had reached 242. Is it normal to exceed your maximum heart rate so much and is it safe to do so.

My resting heart rate is 60bpm, I am quite fit, I run about 10 minute miles and can go upto 13 miles.


  • Are you sure you're not dead?

    The formula for working out max HR isn't wholly accurate.  Go to a hill and run up it quickly 3-4 times.  Then run up it twice as quickly as you possibly can - you should be hurting at this point - and the highest HR you record will be your max HR.  From there, you can work out your training zones.

  • Most HRM are not particularly accurate and can get cross talk from other HRMs and electic pylons etc can play havoc with them.

    The strap may not have had enough water on it the electrodes need sweat or water to read the pulses.

    The mas heart rate of 220 minus age is a Rough guide, some people are much higher some much lower, you are very unlikely to ever reach your real Max heart rateimage

    You dont need a HRM to tell you how hard you are working!! 

  • Agree with JPenno - I don't use an HRM and wouldn't bother.  Others swear by them.  Since you've bought it though, probably best to experiment with it.
  • Then run up it twice as quickly as you possibly can

    Scream - i had to read that a couple of times, i thought how is it possible to run twice as quick as possible and then realised you meant do the run twiceimage

  • I'm fairly sure I'm not dead, although I might be when I have run up a hill 3-4 times! I will do that and see what I get. Thank you.

  • Haha!  A bit ambiguous I agree.  Where's the comma when you need one...

  • I was asked by someone or other the other day what happens if you exceed your maximum heart rate... My response was if you are still alive then the bar has been moved...
  • My max heart rate, as tested properly, is 198 bpm. I was running so hard I felt sick at the end.

    However, my HRM record will sometimes show a max rate of well over 200 - up to 240 - on runs where I am not working nearly so hard.

    I think sometimes they just have a blip, and that throws the average way out.

    If you're going to use it, then glance at it from time to time to see what the rate is, but ignore any OTT readings like 242 (unless that's what it's showing a lot of the time, obviously!)
  • 242 was definitely a HRM error, not what you heart was actually doing. Make sure your chest strap is tight enough and moist enough. You do get static problems sometimes with some tops - I find HH more prone to this.



  • Firstly, HRMs can be affected by things like overhead power lines so a really high reading could be a blip.

    Secondly, the 220 - age thing is complete and utter garbage.  You need to measure your maximum heart rate if you're going to use your HRM for training.  Otherwise it's nothing but a useless gadget.  And don't be worried if your max seems high.  It isn't related to how fit you are.  Mine is 189 but I run with people who can barely get past 170 and other people who happily push themselves over 200.

  • Then run up it twice as quickly as you possibly can

    No, you were right the first time. You do have to get way out of your comfort zone to get anywhere near your max! Someone chasing you with a cattle prodder might help.

  • If you can exceed your maximum heart rate then you can also run twice as fast as you possibly can.
  • Green Bean, either you've got a very very fast beating heart, or your watch is knackered
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