Max HR advice

hi, have been training with a HR monitor for a few years but have just worn it without specifically training in any zones. 

Am currently in afghanistan with british army and as i cant go out running i am trying to use a treadmill and my heart rate monitor, along with a book about heart rate zones, to make the most out of my training. However when it came to setting my zones and performing a max HR test i can only reach 175.

when i looked back at workouts from when i first started running i reached 190 and even 191 a few times. i have tried all sorts to reach this again but i am failing way before i reach it.

i realise that the simple answer would be that i am not pushing myself hard enough but im sure i am and have tried at leat 8 times now, also after 9 years in the army i think i have an incling of when i have reached my max and am about to collapse, which is how im feeling at 175BPM.

To throw another spanner in the works  irecently did a circuit training session and one of the exercises involved hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer, this got my heart rate to 176BPM and although i felt tired i did not feel anywhere near as bad as i do on my interval sessions where i only hit 175BPM.

any help, tips would be greatly appreciated as i have 3 months of a 6 month tour left and i want to maximise my training ready for anything when i return to UK


  • Alright mate, I personally only ever pay attention to max HR from races, shorter races like a 5k lend themselves quite well to being max HR tests, because you're running pretty quick all the way round then a long sprint finish will allow you to find your max! I personally find that a better way than doing the "max heart rate tests" on a treadmill!

    If you're at Bastion there is a Parkrun! Which is 5k race!

  • cheers mate, so you think it is a cae of my heart rate just not getting high enough because of the test? would this be a sign of getting fitter as it seemed all i had to do a few years ago was a few hill runs and i was at 190BPM admittidly i was not as fit as i am now.

  • the main problem is that im trying to factor interval training into my workouts but cant reach zone 5 no matter how much blood sweat and tears i put into it, will i still get the same results from doing intervals up to zone 4? @174BPM when my max is 196BPM?

  • Stevie

    If it's intervals you're after maybe drop the heart rate monitor and go for paces. Like Oliver mentioned, try the Parkrun at Bastion if it's feasible and then use the website below to work out your training paces based on your 5km result or do a 5km time trial on the treadmill (ideally racing against someone next to you).

    I'm in Afghan at the minute too. The heat is terrible for training, especially intervals and I imagine this is why you're not reaching the same max HR as you would back in the UK as the body starts to overheat before you can push as hard as you would back home.  

    Just an example but I was out for a easy 4mile run yesterday and even though I was running at a easy pace, I had to cut short because of the heat. I knew my HR wasn't too high but it zapped my energy levels.

  • Even though it's ony a small increase in elevation, this will also make a difference To your training ability. 

  • thanks Nicky i will have a good look at that, your right about the heat im having to do distance runs early now im in bastion but can still feel the heat at 0600. 

    i completely forgot to take into account altitude as well, thanks Mrs Noel.

    so i suppose the real test will be when i get my r and r end of july ill see how the uk weather affects my HR, with the increase in effort i will be able to put in.

  • Nicky,

    just had a good look at the training paces and i am going to use them for training whilst out here, how often do you train in each specific zone and how many times per week? my goal is to build endurance,

    thanks for your help

  • Stevie, it took me a couple of sessions to work out why I was so knackered at first. Then I remembered we were at an increased altitude!

  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    Stevie ... HR based endurance training ... go here:

    For hitting maxHR, it's important to build slowly. Too much too soon results in lactic acid, fatigue and stallling before you get near maxHR. Gradually increase intensity and then only go hell for leather for the last 10-15% at the end. Make sure you're rested before starting ... I guess the heat will certainly affect things though.

  • Mrs Noel, take it your in Afghan too? i never realised the altitude out here, i bought my altitude training mask out here too which was a big mistake no chance im gonna get any phys done with that on.

    Dr Dan i will have a good read of that and take into account about going to hard too soon as i am very guilty of that thanks.

  • I came home in April but actually there was a guy who trained in his mask. No way he could have done that in the summer heat! 

  • its horrible i did 20km on the bike and 20 min on the stepper at an extra "3000" ft and thought i was gonna pass out dont think i will run in it.

  • This site does not provide medical or any other health care advice diagnosis or treatment.A common method for determining maximum heart rate for men is to subtract their age from 220 to heart rate in terms of percentage of maximum .


  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    "subtract their age from 220" ... but there is a large standard deviation about the mean of this normal distribution, so it's useless for a significant number of individuals.

  • Dr.Dan, did you fall for our residence comment spammer from jottpens? Must take them ages to spam threads like thatimage But your right, probably as accurate just to think of a number between 160 & 190image

  • i thought jott pens sounded a bit strange but tottaly agree with Dr D, I like my tests to be as accurate as possible so wouldnt use the 220 option

  • I usually do a 1 x inteval, tempo and long run a week with easy runs to pad around to build the mileage up. I've only managed average 35miles a week here what with constant work and general conditions.

    For endurance I would go for tempo runs, cruise intervals and long runs as your main workouts, plus build your weekly mileage up gradually.  Stick some interval work in every now and again to mix it up. My longest run on the treadmill was 20km, which is harder mentally than it is physically.

    What are you traning for specifically other than just building endurance?


  • 20km on a treadmill out here is horrific lol nice one, just training for a course when i get back to uk involves lots of endurance tabbing mainly just trying to build a good solid base endurance before i start tabbing.

    Are you out here as civvy or British army?

  • While running won't hurt, I'd advise you to train by tabbing. Nothing better than practicing the discipline you're going to be doing. Time on feet is important for endurance.

    I'm neither, and you're probably going to discount everything I've said now but, I'm RAF. 

  • RAF..... oh well guess i can live with taking fitness advice from someone in the RAF, i suppose your not all gonna be fat image

    I plan to start tabbing after r and r just cant find the time at moment plus hills are hard to come by, just doing spartan workout and running every other morning to get into decent shape then will get the bergan on. 

    Just need to stop trying to get new pb every time i set of running, broke my 10km time out here which was happy about but its not what i am training towards i didnt even plan to on that run.

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