Increased max heart rate

I’m 35 years old and my theoretical max heart rate is around 183-185.
Last year I peaked once at 201 bpm when doing a row training, and my usual very high bpm is around 190/195. I’m starting to get out of my confort zone when I’m higher than 160bpm.

Last week I spent 50 seconds with a HR higher than 200bpm and I peaked at 208. I was not on SUF but doing high rpm training on road with the intention to keep it my HR low…

I use a Garmin chest strap, the data points seem accurate. I checked the graph and I have at least 11 data points above 200bpm for the 50 seconds, so it’s not a single false measure.

I’m older, for personal reasons I didn’t do much row or SUF training in the past months, so I’m not sure how to understand this data. Is it a good sign? Is my heart stronger than last year? Am I close to have an heart attack and die like an ultimate sufferlandrian?

I’m just asking out of curiosity.

I thought 35 was young… Jeez


Is this based on the standard 220-age?

While that may get you somewhere in the ballpark, it’s not really very scientific or precise or accurate - as you seem to have found out.

Based on my age of 45, my max HR should be 175. And while my max HR has been around 175 while cycling indoors, I’ve regularly hit 189/190 bpm while running. And you max HR will vary depending on your activity. Cycling tends to only tax your lower body while running taxes your entire body, so the max HR for each activity will be different. So, if you are getting a max HR over 200 while cycling, you should try running as it will likely be even higher.

You chest strap is the most accurate way to way to measure your HR (outside of a clinical setting), so it should be pretty reliable within a couple bpm.

High RPM training does tend to cause a higher HR than low cadence since it taxes your cardio system more than your strength.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say if that’s good or bad. But I think you shouldn’t base any conclusions off of the 220-age equation.

I fully agree, this is just an indicator.

But I did a lot of intense SUF, road bike and row training with HR monitor and never got close to these numbers, that’s why I’m trying to find an explanation, and if it could be a result of the training to be able to have a higher HR.

The 220-age and other formulae are really just to get you into the ballpark. As per @emacdoug mine too is quite different to the 220-age.

Age - 53
Max heart rate - 188
LTHR = 179
And I recently completed a 1h14 mountain time trial where my average heart rate was 170 (only 5m20 was not climbing).

The 220-age formula obviously doesn’t work for me and it may not for you. I am a doctor though (but not a cardiologist) so here comes the extra - if you’re having symptoms of any sort e.g. how uncomfortable are you when heading above 160?) then please get yourself checked out. Rather have someone tell you you’re 100% and worrying too much than not be 100% and have something untoward happen …


Very similar stats to me. Same age, same LTHR, my max HR is fractionally higher at 191.
There is no such thing as a theoretical max HR and the old 220-age formula is not even based on science. It’s merely an average of some random compiled studies and doesn’t take any account of individual variability, which is pretty large.

One thing that does appear to be true is that your maximum HR is not trainable in the same way as your threshold or resting HR. So if your max HR is say 200, it won’t go any higher as you get fitter. If anything as you get fitter you tend to hit your max HR less often. But on the other hand your max HR tends to slowly decline as you age. At 35 my max HR was around 200 and has now dropped to 191.

1 Like

I too have a very high max 178 (60 years old) but I have also had trouble with Hr monitors that give very high short spikes due to faulty strap/static etc. When I changed the strap everything went back to normal.


agree with this last comment, if the max heart rate is wayyyy out of line with past experience, it’s probably worth taknig a look at the strap and seeing if it needs to be replaced or if the battery needs to be replaced. a faulty strap or strap running out of battery can give you extended high or low readings, not just spikes. So just because it kept going for a minute or more doesn’t mean it’s not a strap issue.

FWIW, i have also had a time where my max heart rate got higher than expected, so this can happen and high cadence will often give you a higher heart rate because of i think like, electrical signal coupling, basically, but if this were a real high heart rate you would know it based off the RPE