Measure your HRM to train better

I often used the Heart Rate Maximum in the training plans for marathons or half marathons. We show you in this article how to measure it.

The FCM is, of course, unique to each individual, but for an individual, it will also vary according to age and its drive at the time of evaluation of the FCM.

FCM is measured in 2 ways. The first so-called indirect is a theoretical measurement based on formulas to be applied according to the age of the runner, while the second is determined from a physical running test.

Calculation of FCM.


This method of calculating FCM is by its theoretical nature less precise than direct measurement and is a commonly accepted source of error .

The source of error is that they established the calculation formulas on a sample of a population of runners, so they are not valid for everyone. The 3 most famous formulas for calculating FCM are as follows and date respectively from 1954, 1994 and 2002:

FCM = 220 (M) or 226 (F) – age
FCM = 205.8 – 0.685 x age .
FCM = 208.754 – 0.734 x age .
There are many other formulas that I will not list you here. These three will already give you an overview of the theoretical value of your FCM.

You just have to keep in mind that these formulas for calculating FCM are only theoretical and do not apply to your physical condition.

Nothing beats the measurement of the FCM by the physical test.

FCM measurement.


The most reliable way to measure your FCM is therefore to do a field test.

This should last about 3 minutes, the time necessary to reach the maximum heart rate by accumulating the running speed until sprinting. A heart rate monitor is required.

The distance covered during the test is not a reference, as it will depend on the running speed that each runner can achieve.

It will therefore probably be necessary to do it several times to get used to the exercise and to measure your increases in volume.

On the day of the measurement, do the exercise only once so as not to be exhausted by previous attempts.

There are two tests: one on track, and another on hill. Warm up before each of them. The ideal is to do both (not on the same day, of course) to get an MCF that is as close to reality as possible.

Track test


Depending on your level, the three-minute test will allow you to cover between 800 and 1500m.

The ideal is to take the FCM test on the track so as not to be embarrassed and to have benchmarks for acceleration.

You will start the exercise at an average speed and speed up every 100m to reach your maximum top speed in the last 100m.

If you cover more than 1200m during the 3 minutes of the test, do not speed up every 100m but every 200m.

You will reach your FCM during the last 100m.

To avoid having to look at your watch during this last 100 meters where you will be at your maximum running ability, equip yourself with a heart rate monitor.

This must be able to trigger every 100m and store the data collected, or better yet to store the data at regular time intervals defined in advance, every 5 seconds, for example.

Hill test


To measure your HRM on a hill course, choose an uphill section of around 2 minutes .

You will then have to cover this distance 3 times at different speeds and descend each time by jogging:

The 1st ascent will be done by gradually speeding until reaching a speed that you will hold 20 seconds .


The 2nd ascent will be done according to the same operating mode except that the ultimate speed will be faster than the previous time but must be able to be held for 10 seconds.

During the subsequent descent, make sure that your heart rate is about 35 beats lower than the previous descent.


Finally, the last ascent will be slower, the ultimate speed must be maintained for 1 minute.
The highest value measured for your heart rate during the test is your HRM.

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