karvonan formula for cardiovascular strength

Karvonen Formula


Karvonen Formula


Great heart & lung health! 


10 to 15 minutes a day using this formula will help you become cardio fit within just a few weeks!

Once you understand your heart rate goals for a healthy cardiovascular system, you will use this to reduce your training, and  maximize your results!  


This method of calculating your target-training zone is based on your maximal heart rate and resting pulse.

(please get a resting heart rate by checking it first thing in the morning)

The correlation here is more directly linear: 60% to 80% of your Heart Rate Reserve, (RHR), equals 60% to 80% of your functional capacity.

To determine your target-training zone with your  RHR (resting heart rate) follow these  steps below.  

Important Note:

(Take your resting pulse three mornings in a row, just after waking up. Add all of them together, and divide by 3, to get the average beats per minute.)

For our example below, we will use a resting heart rate of 60 bpm, and the age of 56


(220) – (your age) = Max HR

220-56=164 (maxhr)

(Max HR) – (resting heart rate) = RHR

164-60=104 (RHR)

This next step is understanding your training range, which is based on your current level of fitness. In the beginning we use 3-different percentages to find out the range. This helps us to understand where our heart rate should be once we are working out.  We will also learn where we need to be, and how to work our way to our goal, or if we are overworking, it helps us to reduce the amount of work we are doing.  

  • 60%- This is basically a couch potato, rarely does any cardio fitness, other than maybe running to the train. 
  • 70%-This person might walk briskly a couple of times a week, not much more. 
  • 85%-This person is getting 3-6 cardiovascular workouts in a week, consider athletic for their age range. 

(RHR) x (60% to 80%) = training range %

  • 104 x 60%=62.4
  • 104 x 70%=72.8
  • 104 x 85%=88.4

Now that we have the training zones based on 3-different percentages we just add our (RHR) resting heart rate in. 

  • 62.4 + 60=122.4
  • 62.4 + 72.8=135.2
  • 62.4 + 88.4=150.8 

The cardio training range example for the (57) year old, with a resting heart rate of 60

The low ranges is 122.4, the high range is 150.8

When you are in great cardio vascular condition, you may find yourself surpassing the equations and that is  great! When you are fit, it is easy to work above your maximum rate. This outline provides a basis for the math. 


If you do not have a heart rate monitor, you can measure manually, however, don’t stop walking around if you have a high heart rate, walk it off while you take your pulse.  Find your pulse, and count the beats for  6-seconds. Add a zero to your count and this is your heart rate range. It’s a rough measurement, not a perfect science, however it’s workable. 

So, your target training zone, in beats per minute is 135 to 160. Of course, to get a 15 second target simply divide each number by 4. That would be 34 to 40 beats over 15 seconds. When counting beats, start with the first beat as zero: i.e. 0-1-2-3-4…38-39-40.

More ways to understand how I use this formula 

Download your own copy of the Karvonen Formula

Karvonen Formula



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