Karvonen Formula

Karvonen Formula is the formula of heart rate reserve

Karvonen Formula is a mathematical expression that helps define the target heart rate workout range. Karvonen heart rate formula presupposes using maximum and resting heart rate with the desirable training intensity to achieve the target heart rate.

Target Heart Rate = ((Maximum Heart Rate − Resting Heart Rate) x %Intensity) + Resting Heart Rate

Karvonen Formula is the formula of heart rate reserve. Karvonen heart rate formula is one of the most efficient techniques used to determine training heart rate and heart rate to burn calories. Karvonen Formula takes into consideration the resting heart rate.


Example for Age = 35 years, Resting Heart Rate = 60 bpm, Intensity = 50%
Minimum Target Heart Rate = (206.9 – (0.67 x age) – 60) x 0.50 + 60 = 122 beats per minute (bpm);
Target Heart Rate is 140 beats per minute.

History of Karvonen Formula

Karvonen Formula is named after Finnish scientist Dr. M. J. Karvonen who carried out the research of heart rate reserve. In 1957 Karvonen and his colleagues published the results of their study. This research became a classical example in workout science. Karvonen studied the effects of exercise on fitness among medical students. Karvonen found that workout intensity matching to the heart rate of 60% of the heart rate range was necessary to produce appreciable gains in cardiorespiratory capability. Karvonen’s findings became the basis of training strategies for the next decades. Karvonen’s platform was embodied in the terms of minimum requirements for frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise. It is remarkable that this study had such a potent impact on subsequent health and fitness practice. Karvonen wrote in his study that heart rate during training has to be more than 60% of the obtainable range from rest to the maximum attainable by running in order to produce a change in the working heart rate. A decrease of the working heart rate indicates an increase of the maximum oxygen uptake.