Do You Have a Maximum Heart Rate?

Do You Have a Maximum Heart Rate?


[ ♪ INTRO ] You might have thought during an intense workout that your heart couldn’t possibly beat any faster. I mean, you were going all out. But you probably didn’t reach your maximum heart rate, the fastest you can make your heart go, unless you really overexerted. And even then, technically your heart probably could beat faster. You just wouldn’t want it to. While you’re exercising, muscles need more oxygen so they can keep up with their energy demands. They can get that oxygen if your heart either pumps more blood or pumps more often, which is why your heart rate jumps as you work out. But no matter how hard you push things, you’ll eventually hit an upper limit based on the physics of your heart. Before you start, your heart beats just a little bit faster than its resting rate (the minimum speed needed to keep cells humming along while you sleep), which is roughly 60-100 beats per minute in adults. Then, as you work harder and harder, the part of your nervous system that works unconsciously tells your heart to pump faster, anticipating the needs of your body. You’ll get closer and closer to what doctors call your maximum heart rate: the max speed seen when you push yourself really hard. That’s around 200 beats per minute for a
20-year-old, give or take a dozen beats or so. And you can subtract about a beat per minute for each year after that, because your heart muscle becomes less responsive to those nervous system signals as you age. The thing is, technically, your heart muscle could go a bit faster than it does in practice. Its contraction speed is ultimately limited by how long it takes to reset after each contraction signal. That signal is an electric stimulus called an action potential, and it’s created by the movement of ions across cellular membranes through a series of channels and pumps. So after one signal is received, the muscle can’t be signaled again until enough of those ions are returned to where they started. For heart muscle, that period of time is between 200 and 250 milliseconds, so hypothetically, your maximum possible heart rate could be as high as 240 or even 300 beats per minute. But the body stops short of that because the heart needs to pause briefly to actually fill with blood. If your heart muscle were to beat at top speed, it wouldn’t pump as much blood, and therefore wouldn’t deliver the oxygen you need to your muscles, pretty much defeating the whole dang purpose of going faster. That can actually be pretty dangerous, and it’s usually a bad sign. Luckily, you don’t need to push your heart fully to get the health benefits of exercise, which is why doctors usually recommend shooting for a target heart rate zone of only 50-85% of your max. You can let your smart treadmill or app figure that pace out, or do a back-of-the-envelope calculation assuming your max rate is 220 beats per minute minus your age. It’s not a perfect estimate, but it’ll
give you a ballpark figure to work with. Thanks for asking, and thanks as always to our patrons on Patreon! If you’d like to pose questions like this, vote on questions we’ll answer, or just get some nifty rewards, you can head over to patreon.com/scishow. [ ♪ OUTTRO ]

100 Replies to “Do You Have a Maximum Heart Rate?”

  1. I was 12 years old when my heart started to have episodes where it would go between 250 and 320 bpm. Along with heart attack level chest pains, and profuse sweating. These episodes went on for a year straight. 1 or 2 times a week i would have to go to the hospital and have them inject a medicine into my heart to stop it and reset it. It felt like a full forced punch to the chest everytime the medicine would reach my heart. I finally had two heart ablations after a year of that hell.

  2. Resting heart rate is 60 – 100? Mine is usually between 45 – 50. It will only go over if I've been exercising.

  3. Mine beats way too fast, right now my resting rate is 100. Which is what my heart beat sensors say on my phone and fitness watch. And when I exercise it jumps to 250-300.

    I'm probably going to die soon

  4. When I was 18 and trying to join the Army, they had me and a few people do a heart stress test by having us step up and down from a platform in beat to a beep on a radio. We were all wearing heart monitors for safety and they forced me to stop because the heart monitor read 437 bpm. All the doctor observing said was that that was impossible and had me try a different monitor that still had me reading about 400 after the time it took to change it out and me just standing there for 30-40 seconds.

  5. I’m 13. My resting heart rate is around 40bpm and when I was in hospital (for cf) they did a set of obs on me after I got a midline inserted into my arm. My heart rate went down to 28bpm. They were very worried but not too worried because I was still awake talking to them. Lol but my max is around 190. But that’s because I’m super fit

  6. I thought he’d mention your heart rate after being stung by a box jellyfish…that’s the fastest heart rate I’ve ever heard of…

  7. Now that you mention heartbeat.. Do human and generally animals have average finite numbers of lifetime heartbeats before they die?

  8. I remember the first time my heart rate suddenly jumped over 200 about ten years ago. I could literally feel it in my chest, it was so frightening that I had a panic attack. Of course I didn't know it then, so I thought I was having a heart attack. My girlfriend called an ambulance, I ended up in the ER but they couldn't make my heart slow down and by then I could barely breathe. They thought I might have pulmonary embolism, then as they were preparing me for a chest X-ray and I had to sit up so they could place the lead vest behind my back, my heart rate suddenly fell back to 110. I had to spend the night in the SICU, five more nights in the hospital then go to a heart clinic for an electrophysiological examination.
    It turned out my heart can conduct signals where it shouldn't and it can trigger a supraventricular tachycardia. There's a fix for that, but there was an 80% chance that I'd need a pacemaker if they tried, so for now it's out of the question. I have to be careful not to move in a way that might compress my chest, watch my breathing and not to be in a too humid environment (I don't know how's humidity connected but it is). Which meant avoiding exercise (which was hard because I was a body builder and a karateka), and ironically doing so just increased my risks of triggering it because I gained a lot of weight. Now I have many other health problems and depression, and I'm also ugly. It's mind blowing that a few millimeters of heart muscle can derail your life.

  9. When I was in Junior High School I caught H1N1 and got really bad pneumonia from it, and after that my heart rate would be weirdly high normally and after running in PE, and I figured I did it wrong so my teacher got an electronic reader and it said I was around 240-250 after running, I've been fine since then just had a high heart rate, is there anything bad about that?

  10. I've hit 250bpm several times during heavy workout. But my heart beats faster than average overall—my normal heart rate (at rest) is between 100 and 110bpm.

  11. I once had a heart rate of almost 300 beats per minute. I almost died. I spent 8 days in the hospital as doctors tried to keep it down. They said if it kept up, my heart would have ended up just giving up. It was like my heart was running a marathon continuously, non stop. There’s only so long it can do that.

  12. Damn, I have got pretty damn close at 220. I do not recommend trying to just up your heart rate to the max as it is a very bad idea and honestly kind of hurts… actually it hurts a lot how I did it, but it is scary how close to the lower limit of Max BPM I got, I mean it is 20 off.

  13. Well it can go 300 bpm if you go into V-tach or SVT, but I think they were asking about the maximum rate for a physiological response to exercise. (220-Age is a pretty good estimate). You really don't have to worry about your heart beating too fast to fill unless you have a heart disorder.

  14. If your resting heart rate is 100 BPM…please visit your primary care provider for some well-needed physiological advice.

  15. I'm 28 and start to pass out around 180-190. Goes along with the HR vs BP inverse relationship. Then again mine is from anxiety rather than exercise. Maybe there's significance there too? Not sure.

  16. My bpm is about 1-2. To compensate, my heart beats REALLY hard. Doctors say I should work out less, or soon I will reach the pinnacle of fitness, namely a bpm of 0.

  17. My son has wolf parkinsons white his heartbeat can sit between 240-280 bpm when he has a episode sitting on the lounge

  18. I've always found the measurements to be a tad off, but a good estimates for what my heart rate normally does. Which I suppose is kind of the point, it's an average baseline. For those curious, I'm 29, male, and while sprinting, I've been able to push about 212bpm.

  19. I used to jog with a heart rate of 250 to 260 and I used to jog 2 hours straight. How was I even able to deliver oxygen?? I used to be scared of that heart rate tbh. But oh well

  20. Hmm… That piece about not letting my heart rate get too high is pretty relevant for me. (My heart rate likes to shoot up close to 300 during what should be a moderate workout, yay broken genetics) So, how do I account for my heart not filling with blood?

  21. Avoid certain performance-enhancing stimulants before working out (those pre-workout drinks) . I've had a heart rate spike to 224 during a ride because of it. You can tell something is wrong, as you seem to lose strength and feel strange. Oddly, there is no great sense of pressure in the chest, and the only way I was fully aware was because of the heart monitor. Without it I might have thought I was simply imagining things and kept going. It took about 5 minutes off the bike, standing motionless, to get the heart rate to suddenly drop down to 135. Always use a heart monitor when training, marathons or bike tours.

  22. What's the slowest a heart can beat? I wake up and check mine on a pretty regular basis and it sits between 44-52 bpm. Could it go lower with some good cardio exercise each day?

  23. I'm 23, but if my watch is correct, my heart rate peaks around 200 -210 sometimes in timed races, especially running up hills. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I usually slow down at that point because I don't want to throw up during a race again.

  24. I have a question that I'm hoping someone here will be able to answer. In gym class, our teacher makes us wear these fitness bands to track our heart rate throughout the period. We are actually graded based on if we spend enough time with our heart rate in a certain range. Normally this is at least 30 minutes above 140 bpm.

    My question is if this is actually an effective way of measuring how much effort someone is putting into a workout or how intensive or beneficial a workout is, or is it more of a "pseudoscience"?

  25. I'm a healthy 25 year old woman with a heart disease, I take a low dose of blood pressure meds in the morning but even at 11 pm, running, my heart beat can only get up to 120 max….

  26. Hey scishow can you make opposite video about how slow heart can beat i was born with bradycardia condition which makes my heart beat slower then normal human but doctor warned me there are some consequences when it reach some breakpoint and i am curious where it sits thx in advance

  27. 33yr stoped once for 5 min and my normal beat per minute sit around 40-55 sometimes below one time i closed scale on my heart rate sensor it was scaled to 25 😉 i was born with bradycardia i dont have peacemaker yet thoo …..

  28. I’m going to be 20 in a month but during my last workout (two days ago) at the gym my heart rate was 223?

  29. Yeah, that "maximum heart rate" thing always confused me, because when I was 20 it calculated to 200 bpm, but when I exercised hard, it sometimes measured as high as 240 bpm, so I didn't see how 200 could be my maximum heart rate if I'd recorded it beating faster than that. It worried me a bit, so I got a heart rate monitor to figure it out and noticed my ranges were:
    up to 140 little to no perceptible effort
    140-160 light effort
    160-180 medium effort
    180-200 intense effort
    I tried not to push myself beyond that point, because after reaching about 205 bpm, my heart rate would jump straight to about 240. At 240, I had to stop exerting myself, because what you said about the heart not beating efficiently at that point was true. At 240 I'd start to feel really light-headed and tired. It felt like I wasn't getting sufficient oxygen.

  30. Thanks to a condition I have I have nearly maxed out. Doctors said I was close. My Max was 250 and I was at 235 bpm. Not fun.

  31. My theoretical max heartrate according to my gymclass is like 204 bpm but it's regularly in the 190's when I run and I've gotten it to like 220 once.

  32. That seems strange to me. I'm 38 years old and when I cycle fast, I get around 180 bpm. According to that formula, I"m pushing myself too much. Is that really true? I actually feel like I even could go faster.

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