The Maffetone Method

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 03, 2013 at 1:19 AM

Has anyone here tried and had success with the Maffetone Method? The formula is 180 minus your age to get a max heart rate. Your not suppose to go over the MHR as you jog. I do Spartan race and Tough Mudder and I'm trying to improve my running.

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2 Answers


on March 25, 2013
at 09:46 PM

I have not read any book based on the principles of Maffetone (I did with the ones of Lydiard and Bob Glover) but finding you MHR just with a formula is pretty useless I think. It depends on a lot of things, the most important probably your current fitness level. That's pretty easy to see: pick a morbid obese man that never did any sport and then an elite endurance runner from the same age. It's pretty clear that the MHR won't be the same for the two, but based on the formula you said It would be.

There's other ways to find out a better estimate of the MHR. For instance, you could run a step hill fast until you are feeling like you're going to puke. That's most likely you're MHR. You can also get an estimate picking the highest HR seen doing a 10x400 R1' recovery at max speed or in the last minuts of a 5K race.

Once you have your real MHR, then it's true that most of your running should be done not more intensely than this. Indeed, not even closer. Most runs should be done between 70-80% MHR for aerobic improvement. But if you are serious into this, then a few ones like tempo runs and interval training should be done near 85-90%. And then, the rest could be recovery runs which may be near 60% or so. Switching between this in a 'one day hard, one day easy' fashion should provide development with time.

When doing the recovery and easy workouts, if well keto adapted, there shouldn't be a need for carbs to complete them, since this is an aerobic activity that is most likely doable by burning fat and a little bit of available stock glycogen. I've done some 30K runs in order to prepare the marathon with no need for gels and did fine. There will be a little bit more performance by carb loading but the less you do the more you become used to burning fat. So in the end it pays its dividends and then it may become wiser to carb load just for the race day, which is the only moment when you guess that performance is more important that overall health, just for that day. For @fredmull, I find that using gels for regular trainings and then going fasted to some others does not make much sense. You're defeating the purpose of enhancing fat burning by having simple sugars when maybe it shouldn't be necessary at that intensity level.

If you're doing anaerobic training such as interval run, fast repetitions, LT runs, tempos and such things, then a bit of slow carbs 2 to 3h before will help because the demands of such anaerobic activity are impossible to meet with just the aerobic pathways of generating ATP via fat and oxygen. Post-workout, they can trigger better recovery and lower cortisol (have seen this mentioned in Maffetone web site just right now so I guess he will advocate for similar strategy) which is important because if you're really serious into this, you could develop over-training if your body is pushed very far without restoring the glycogen stores at muscle and liver level.

You can find also more info about this on 'The paleo diet for athletes' from Loren Cordain.

Well, I guess I didn't exactly answer the real question so excuse me, just throwing some insight that may provide some info.

EDIT: Forgot to say. I thought I didn't read Maffetone stuff but it was not correct. I've just realised that the 'MAF Test' I do every 15 days or so comes from him. There's so much info on the net that sometimes I already forget where I do get things.



on March 11, 2013
at 08:58 PM

I've been doing a version of this. Running fasted or "mostly" fasted. I've been at daily carbs around 75-100 for a long time. I try to stay around 50-75% of MHR which works out to being close to the Maffetone suggestion.

I am training for a marathon (my first) and have not hit too many walls on my 9 mile and under runs. I have felt not so great on my over 9/10 milers. I've supplemented with sweet potatoes before and gels during these runs. I can prob. also chalk this up to me being a novice.

Anyway, I would say the Maffetone Method - which sounds similar to Sissons suggestion on marathon training HRs- seems like it's working, and would be worth experimenting with.

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