Phil Maffetone Method

Some of this content is comming from the book "Natural Born Heroes: The Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance" by Christopher McDougall, other from Phil Maffetone Method home site

Step 1: The 2-Week Test

After Phil Maffetone, this is not a diet!
Eat all you want, but nothing high-glycemic. Nothing that jacks your blood sugar in other words, and causes insulin to start storing fat.
By the end of two week the test is over, you can gradually add processed carbohydrates back to your meals and see what happens. E.g if you eat a slice of bread and feel fine, okay. But if it makes you feel bloated, sluggish, or sleepy, you will know to much starch for your body to metabolize efficiently. That is hwat the 2-Week test is all about; it is designed to reactivate your natural diagnotic panel. So instead of relying on some diet book to tell you what to eat, you will actually know what to eat, you will get instant feedback from your own body.

YES Foods

You MAY eat as much of the following foods as you like during the Two-Week Test.

Plant Foods:

Animal Foods:




NO Foods

You may NOT eat any of the following foods during the Two-Week Test.






If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there's a good chance it's a no food for the Two-Week Test. Be sure to read the ingredients for all packaged foods, as some form of sugar or carbohydrate is typically added. Better yet, simply avoid all packaged and processed foods for two weeks!

Step 2: The 180-Formula

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps.

  1. Subtract your age from 180.
  2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:

a) If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
b) If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
c) If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems in (a) and (b), keep the number (180-age) the same.
d) If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems in (a) and (b), and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.


For example, if you are 30 years old and fit into category (b), you get the following: 180-30=150. Then 150-5=145 beats per minute (bpm), is your aerobic training heart rate.

Set your heart rate monitor max tracehold to your maximum aerobic training heart rate, and the minimum to 10 points lower.

Some thoughts and personal experience

Heart rate zones:

Zone% of Heart-Rate Reserve
Recovery  50-60%
Long, slow runs, easy or recovery runs   60-70%
Aerobic zone or "target heart rate zone"  70-80%
Anaerobic zone  80-90%
VO2 max "Red line zone"  90-100%

Calculate Heart-Rate Reserve:
MHR: Max Heart Rate
RHR: Rest Heart Rate
BPM: Beats per minute

Phil Maffetone 180-Formula says: 180-age = max BPM, using this together with the Traditional Formula 1:
For a 20 years old this gives 180-20 = 160 BPM. Using the Traditional Formula we get the %zone to: 160/(220-20) = 80%
For a 30 years old this gives 180-30 = 150 BPM. Using the Traditional Formula we get the %zone to: 150/(220-30) = 79%
For a 40 years old this gives 180-40 = 140 BPM. Using the Traditional Formula we get the %zone to: 140/(220-40) = 78%
For a 50 years old this gives 180-50 = 130 BPM. Using the Traditional Formula we get the %zone to: 130/(220-50) = 76%
For a 60 years old this gives 180-60 = 120 BPM. Using the Traditional Formula we get the %zone to: 120/(220-60) = 75%
By this it is confirmed that Phil Maffetone works in the Aerobic Zone (70-80%), but the %zone decrease with age

For me as a 57 years old man:
Using the 180-Formula: 180 - 57 = 123 BPM
Using the Traditional Formula 1 for the Aerobic Zone: (220 - 57) x 70-80% = 114 - 130 BPM
Using the Traditional Formula 2 for the Aerobic Zone: (206 - (0.7 x 57)) x 70-80% = 116 - 133 BPM
Using Karvonen Formula for the Aerobic Zone:

We can see that the Traditional Formulas and the 180-Formula agrees fairly well, but the Karvonen Formula gives me a much higher BPM. The nice thing with the Karvonen Formula is, it takes my real physical shape into account. So what should I use?
Running at 123 BPM is really too slow for me, it is almost only a fast work, so I decided to set my Heartbeat high level alarm to 140 BPM, nearer to the Karvonen Formula and my sensation when running.
In the start of the 2-weeks test, this setting gave me a average pace at 7:30 min/Km, 35% slower than my normal speed on a 10 Km distance

Measure your Max Heart Rate

- 5 Km Race Test

  1. Do 5 Km race.
  2. During the last 1-2 minutes go to a full sprint.
  3. Add 5 beats to the highest number recorded during the sprint period.

- Repeats Test

  1. Run for 2 minutes with gradually increasing intensity. Get up at maximum speed for the last 15-20 seconds.
  2. Then run slowly for about 1 minute.
  3. Repeat the test 2 more times, after the 3rd time read pulse immediately after completing the interval. The value will fairly accurately reflect the maximum pulse that you are able to achieve within race - if you have given it all you have.
  4. You have to go through 3 intervals, as the body (including the heart) need some time to respond to severe stress and only after some time it can reach the final maximum limit.