You’ve purchased your heart rate monitor, taken it out of the box, slapped it on your wrist–and now you’re good to go, right?
Not so fast! Your watch uses a standard formula to figure out your max heart rate and training zones (usually 220 minus your age for men, 225 minutes your age for women). For many of us, thought, using this formula could result in figures that are off by as much as 30 beats in either direction!
Max heart rate is genetic, and not a function of age or fitness. The best way to properly calibrate your watch involves a bit of fitness testing–either in a lab (for example, an Exercise Stress Test) or through a test you can perform on a spin bike.
I’ll go into greater depth about how to set your watch so you can more accurately judge your training efforts–but for now check out these great, detailed articles: