What is cardio? Karvonen formula


In a fitness world dominated by the treadmills, spin classes, stair masters, and the aimless ability for someone to be able to run mile after mile all for the sake of feel good-isms this is predominantly what one would think of or consider to be cardio correct?!….. Well yes of course and there’s no other physiological means to achieve a cardiovascular condition without performing a specific task similar to what’s stated above….


Absolutely wrong on every account above!


Cardiovascular conditioning is achieved during any period of sustained elevated heart rate. This in turn results in the conditioning of the heart regardless of task at hand and will equate to the body’s ability to return the heart to a low resting pulse rate faster which is the true test of heart health and conditioning.


One of the most simple yet forgotten formulas to measure your cardiovascular health and gauge output is the Karvonen formula which factors both the resting HR and maximum heart rate into the formulation to determine training intensity goals.

To achieve your specific goal focus on implementing the below Karvonen formula for optimal goal obtainment.

Target HR


For specific goals routinely adjust to fall within the below percentages:

Recovery Zone – 55% to 70% (The infamous cool down or recovery period)

Aerobic Zone – 70% to 80% (This zone is what’s often referred to as the Orange zone or fat burning zone)

Anaerobic Zone 80% to 95% (This is the pulse pounding, short of breath, and pouring sweat zone that taps off muscle for energy aswell).


It’s incredibly beneficial to utilize all 3 functional train zones, and you can do such with an intense lifting routine as you often taking your heart on a pulse pounding roller coaster ride that takes your heart rate off the charts during the lift and trickles back down during periods of recovery.




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