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J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2591-7. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182001832.

Comparisons of age-predicted maximum heart rate equations in college-aged subjects.

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Human Performance Research Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.


This study investigated the accuracy of age-predicted equations to predict heart rate maximum (HRmax) in a college-age sample and establish efficacy of short-duration anaerobic capacity tests to determine the actual HRmax. A criterion HRmax (CHRmax) was obtained from 96 (52 men and 44 women, age = 22.0 ± 2.8 years, height = 163.9 ± 9.5 cm, 70.6 ± 14.7 kg, resting HR = 68.9 ± 11.2 b·min) healthy volunteers during 2 200-m sprint trials on a standard track. Maximal effort was confirmed via plasma lactate ≥7 mmol·L(-1) and rating of perceived exertion ≥17 points. The CHRmax was compared to 7 age-predicted HRmax equations: Fox et al., 3 equations from Gellish et al., Tanaka et al., and gender-specific equations from Fairbarn et al., and Hossack et al. Descriptive statistics and standard errors of estimate (SEEs) were calculated. One-way analysis of variance was used to assess differences between the criterion HRmax and the age-predicted HRmax from the 7 equations. The predicted HRmax from the Fox equation and those of Gellish(3), Tanaka, and Hossack were all significantly higher (p ≤ 0.05) than the CHRmax. The Fox equation resulted in overpredicting HRmax in 88.5% of the cases compared to the CHRmax. Compared to the CHRmax, the age-predicted HRmax equations resulted in the following percentages of the CHRmax: Fox = 104.8%, SEE = 12.7; Gellish(1) = 95.2%, SEE = 12.2; Gellish(2) = 99.6%, SEE = 8.3; Gellish(3) = 101.8%, SEE = 9.1; Tanaka = 102.0%, SEE = 9.3; Fairbarn = 100.1%, SEE = 8.5; and Hossack = 105.2%, SEE = 13.9 of CHRmax. It was concluded that the Gellish(2) and Fairbarn equations were the most accurate of the age-predicted HRmax equations in a college-age population. In practical application, 2 200-m sprint trials provide a reasonable estimate of HRmax compared to a graded exercise test.

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