24 years old. Resting heart rate is 63 bpm. I weight 150 lbs, 5'3 feet. I have asthma but I take inhalers before I exercise. With or without my inhalers my max heart rate does not go above 140/141 even when I'm working at the gym intensely. Even at the point where I think, I cannot push myself further while exercising and I am out of breath, my heart rate is just at 140 bpm. I am not very super fit, at least I think so. I started exercising regularly after about 2-3 years of no exercise, and heart rate still the same. For my age my max heart rate should be in the range of 180-190 bpm. Asked my doctor too, but they said it was okay. What I am looking for is specific instances of such cases, and why it might be so for me? Any specific reason?

  • What kind of exercise are you doing? Have you tried tracking your heartrate during high intensity interval?
    – MJB
    Oct 30, 2017 at 7:50

7 Answers 7


The stroke volume increases if you exert yourself more. The better trained you are, the more the stroke volume will increase as you exercise harder, which means that the heart rate will increase by a lesser amount.


Stroke volume increases depending on the type of physical activity your are doing and your training level. For example, during an upright physical activity like jogging, stroke volume increases from about 50 mL at rest to 120 mL at maximal exercise intensity. In a trained Olympic runner, stroke volume can increase from 80 mL at rest to 200 mL during maximal exercise intensity as the heart pumps more efficiently.


Different people have different size hearts, and that will effect their maximum heart rate. I knew a women who had a working heart rate about 220; she just had a small heart.

If you doctor has cleared you, I would not worry about it. It is generally better to use a perceived exertion scale for workouts instead of basing on heart rates unless you have a better way of setting heart rate zones.


Max heart rate is not the benchmark for performance. VO2 Is also one component along with muscle endurance. You can not push the heart to go over a certain range in order to achieve a physical goal. Also, the body has very well defined mechanics to control the heart rate voluntarily which might not be altered as such...


Im older than you (42) but my rest heart rate is at present 63 bpm too. Surprisingly, 140 bpm is another coincidence as well: I have it really hard to go higher than that at the stationary bike. I recently managed to achieve 150 but I had to push so hard that my knees hurted during days and I stopped biking altogether.

I think it is a good sign that you cannot achieve a higher heart rate. It means your heart has adapted and became very efficient. You should congratulate yourself.

However, if you really want to see your heart pumping fast, try a completely new exercise that demands a big effort from several big muscles simultaneously. Squats or deadlifts are good for that purpouse if you haven't done them before. If you are a runner, try swimming fast (or conversely). But in a few days your body may have adapted to the new exercise an your heart will again beat not very fast. As long as you are able to exercise normally, heart rates under 140 bpm are nothing to worry about. More than that, it is the ideal condition many of us wish for ourselves, so be happy about it.

  • "I think it is a good sign that you cannot achieve a higher heart rate. It means your heart has adapted and became very efficient. You should congratulate yourself." - So you are saying that professional cyclists or runners who have a higher hartrate during a competition have a less "adapted heart" than OP? (even though OP hasn't worked out for about 2 - 3 years)
    – MJB
    Oct 30, 2017 at 7:43

The max heart rate is genetically defined and decreases with the age, but there are young people with a "low" max heart rate and there are also old people with "high" heart rates. And both is ok with no health risks.

Hope I could help you.


Interesting thread - I dont see the answer so hopefully this will restart it;

I am 40 y/o, had child hood asthma, have being going to the gym for 2 years for 4 nights per week and have a resting heart rate of 49bpm. The gym uses Myzone heart rate monitors (chest belt) and I cannot get mine into the red zone at all. (Red zone = Heart rate of 160-177bpm, yellow 142-159bpm) I max out at approx 152bpm and that's when I am dripping with sweat, my muscles are cramping and fatigued. everybody else in the spin classes reach 100% and get praise for there hard work, my stat of 86% makes me feel I must be Lazy or Perhaps I am not trying hard enough. I have taken running 5K for 4nights a week spin class 3 nights with weights and rowing in between, I do a lot of cardio and do not seem to loose weight - probably because of the amount of sugar I used to drink (Just recently stopped Cola 2 weeks now..) so hopefully things will change. I would just really like a good answer please.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! However, this is not really a discussion forum, and this does not present an answer to the question. I would encourage you to visit the tour and help section pages to get a better idea about the site.
    – JohnP
    Jan 17, 2018 at 19:59

Edit: Let me just caveat the following with the statement that there may be an underlying medical condition preventing you from reaching a normal peak heart rate. It's probably a good idea to visit a physician.

I find, as you have, that intensity is often limited by psychology:

Even at the point where I think, I cannot push myself further while exercising and I am out of breath...

It sounds like the unpleasantness of pushing yourself harder is what's limiting you. You don't mention the type of conditioning you're doing, but I suggest trying new exercises to experience different feedback loops. I assure you, unless you're already running sub-five minute miles, you will be able to exceed 140 bpm.

For example, try setting a timer and performing two dumbbell thrusters the first minute, four the second minute, six the third minute, and so on, until you can't go on. Record the time at which you gave up, then beat that time next time.

Or try as many bear complexes as possible in five minutes, then attempt to beat that number for two or three consecutive sets. Then do it again in couple of days, promising to yourself that you will beat your numbers from last time. Keep doing this until you can't beat your numbers.

Find a hill and sprint up and down it with 30 seconds of rest between sprints.

Switch up your modalities. Utilize some muscle complexes you aren't used to exerting at high intensity. You'll get there.

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