top of page

# Part Five: The Nikolaidis MHR Formula. Is This the Best MHR Formula For Triathletes?

Updated: Mar 23

Max Nikolaidis formula, also known as the Nikolaidis formula, is a mathematical equation used to estimate an individual's maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) based on age, sex, body mass, and heart rate. VO2 max measures a person's aerobic fitness and represents the maximum amount of oxygen that can be consumed during exercise.

Max Nikolaidis, a Greek physiologist, in 1974 introduced the formula. Since then, it has been widely used by researchers and practitioners in the field of sports science, exercise physiology, and cardiology.

The Nikolaidis formula is expressed as:

MHR = 211 - (0.64 x Age) + (0.72 x Weight) + (0.06 x VO2max) - (0.48 x Resting Heart Rate)

Age, weight, VO2max, and resting heart rate are all critical factors in determining an individual's cardiovascular health and fitness. Considering these factors, the Nikolaidis MHR formula provides a more accurate estimate of an individual's maximum heart rate during exercise than other formulas that only consider age.

Advantages of the Nikolaidis MHR formula

The Nikolaidis MHR formula has several advantages over other methods for estimating maximum heart rate. First, it considers individual differences in weight, VO2 max, and resting heart rate, which can affect maximum heart rate. Second, the formula is relatively easy to use and can be calculated using simple measurements, such as weight and resting heart rate. Finally, the individual's cardiovascular health and fitness. Considering these factors, the Nikolaidis MHR formula is widely used in research and clinical settings, making it a valuable tool for comparing and interpreting results across studies.

Disadvantages of the Nikolaidis MHR formula

The Nikolaidis MHR formula also has some limitations. One major limitation is that it may not be accurate for all individuals. For example, individuals with certain health conditions or medications that affect heart rate may have a different maximum heart rate than predicted by the formula. Additionally, the formula may not be appropriate for very young or very old individuals, as the relationship between age and maximum heart rate may not be linear.

Implementation and best practices

To use the Nikolaidis MHR formula, individuals should first measure their weight, VO2 max, and resting heart rate. VO2 max can be estimated using a fitness test, such as a treadmill test or a 1.5-mile run while wearing a Garmin-type device. Resting heart rate can be measured by taking the pulse first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.

Once these values are obtained, the MHR formula can be applied to estimate the maximum heart rate. It is important to note that the formula is an estimate and may not be accurate for all individuals. It is also essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you have any health conditions or concerns.

Best practices for using the MHR formula include utilizing a heart rate monitor during exercise to track heart rate and adjusting exercise intensity based on how you feel during physical activity. It is also essential to vary exercise intensity and duration to achieve optimal cardiovascular health and fitness.

Examples of using the Nikolaidis MHR formula

To illustrate how Nikolaidis the MHR formula can be used, consider the following example. A 40-year-old woman with a weight of 70 kg, a VO2max of 45 ml/kg/min, and a resting heart rate of 60 bpm would have a predicted maximum heart rate of:

MHR = 211 - (0.64 x 40) + (0.72 x 70) + (0.06 x 45) - (0.48 x 60) = 183 bpm

This estimate can then be used to guide exercise intensity during physical activity. For example, the woman might aim to exercise at a heart rate of 60-80% of her maximum heart rate, which would be between 110-146 bpm.

In conclusion, the MHR formula is helpful in estimating the maximum heart rate during physical activity. By considering age, weight, VO2 max, and resting heart rate throughout your triathlon training, the Nikolaidis formula provides a more accurate estimate of maximum heart rate than other methods. However, it is essential to remember that the MHR formula is just an estimate and may not be accurate for all individuals. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program and to listen to your body during physical activity. By following best practices and using the MHR formula as a guide, individuals can optimize their cardiovascular health and fitness.