by Dr. Phil Maffetone

It’s a companion to the 180-Formula that objectively measures progress and provide the earliest indication of potential problems in training.

Among the important benefits of using a heart monitor is the ability to objectively measure your aerobic progress. Feeling good is one of the benefits of aerobic exercise. And feeling like you’re improving is good too, but subjective. A very objective measure of progress is accomplished using the maximum aerobic function test, or MAF Test.

The MAF Test measures the improvements you make in the aerobic system. Without objective measurements, you can fool yourself into thinking all is well with your exercise. More importantly, the MAF Test tells you if you’re headed in the wrong direction, either from too much anaerobic exercise, too little aerobic exercise or any imbalance that is having an adverse effect on the aerobic system (for example, from stress or poor diet).

The MAF Test can be performed using any exercise except weight-lifting. During the test use your maximum aerobic heart rate found with the 180 Formula. While working out at that heart rate, determine some parameter such as your walking, jogging or running pace (in minutes per mile), cycling speed (miles per hour) or repetitions (laps in a pool) over time. The test can also be done on stationary equipment such as a treadmill or other apparatus that measures output. If you want to test your maximum aerobic function during walking, for example, go to the high school track and walk at your maximum aerobic heart rate. Determine how long it takes to walk one mile at this heart rate. Record your time in a diary or on your calendar. If you normally walk two or three miles, you can record each mile.

Below is an actual example of an MAF Test performed by walking on a track, at a heart rate of 145, calculating time in minutes per mile:

Mile 1 16:32
Mile 2 16:46
Mile 3 17:09

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