MAF Method - Part2

In the first part, we discussed the importance of Aerobic Base Building.
In this part, we focus on the “how-to” aspect of it.

MAF Method

It is very simple, really.

  1. Calculate your MAF Heart rate
  2. Use a heart rate monitor while you run to make sure you don’t exceed this rate. Stay 0-10 beats below it.
  3. Oh, and make sure you spend about 15 minutes warming up by gradually increasing your heart rate to this max number. Cool down for 15 minutes at the end, too.

Let us go deep in each of these aspects.

Calculate MAF Heart Rate (Recap)

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:

    • Category 1 : Recovering from illness or on medication? Subtract 10.
    • Category 2 : Frequently sick or regressed in training? Subtract 5.
    • Category 2 : Overfat — simply use the waist-to-height ratio. Your waist should be less than half your height — if it’s not, subtract 5.
    • Category 3 : If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems in above, keep the number (180–age) the same.
    • Category 4 : Been training regularly for 2 yeara, and improving without problems? Add 5.

How to use Heart Rate monitor

In my experience, wrist based Heart Rate Monitors are not very accurate. Wrist based HR monitor actually measures pulse and not directly HR. Also, the pulse reading is impacted by many factors - tightness of the band, hair on the skin, surrounding light. It is good to measure when stationary, but gives variance during a workout.

I strongly recommend to invest in a good Chest Based Heart Rate Monitor.
Most of good Chest Based HRM come with 2 transmission protocol - ANT and Bluetooth. ANT allows to connect to your smartwatch, and Bluetooth allows to connect to your iOS/Android smartphone.

In India, you can pick Geonaute from decathlon.. It is a good value for money.
Other very good brands are:

  • Wahoo Tickr <= Go for Ticr, TicrX is overkill for most people.
  • Garmin HRM <= If you into triathlon, then Garmin Tri is a good one to pick.
  • Polar H1

Ensure to wet the strap before wearing it. And wash it with soap water after 3-4 use.

Run - Warmup

  • Warmup helps by gradually increasing the flow of blood sent to muscles will help them burn fat better, use oxygen more efficiently and decrease chance of injury. Sudden start of the run increases HR very quick.
  • No stretches for the warmup. One should warmup for 15min with a light run.
  • Do a complete 15min warmup before you start the run. This is MANDATORY.
  • Divide this 15min in 5 sets of 3min each.
  • With each set, increase the intensity up to increase HR by 10-12beats. Target is to reach your MAF zone by end of the warmup

Warmup Sample (Each set is of 3min)

  • Set1 => Normal Walk => HR: 80bpm for example
  • Set2 => Increase to brisk walk to increase HR to 90bpm
  • Set3 => Increase to a very light jog, or run + walk. Increase HR to 100-105bpm
  • Set4 => Jog for longer time, increase HR to 115bpm
  • Set5 => Continue Jog, increase HR to 125bpm

Run - Main Set

  1. Set an alarm on your watch or phone - to alert you if you reach your MAF Heart Rate. I’ve an MAF of 145, so I usually put an alarm of 140.
  • If you’re using Garmin watch, it has alarm functionality.
  • If you’re using phone, I recommend Wahoo Fitness App. It is free, and you can add/customize alerts. One can later upload workout on Strava from Wahoo App itself (if it is not on strava, it didn’t happen :))
    1. Slow down when alarm goes off . Sometime you might need to walk to bring the HR back to range.
    2. For workout > 60min, take hydration - preferably water with electrolyte.


  1. 5-10 min of cooldown - reverse of warmup. Slowly come to stop
  2. Small stretches ok to do here

Tips for Beginners

  1. Be Patient
    MAF Method works, and deliver fantastic results while keeping you healthy. But this is low progress - initially in the start. Most of the beginners have to walk most of the time. It is frustrating, many people give up there - assuming no progress is there. Remember, it took your body years to be that aerobically unfit. So progress will not come overnight. Usually it takes 3-4 months before you see the results.
  2. Do the full warmup
    I am repeating myself, but don’t skip on this.
  3. Limit Main to max 90m
    Dr Maffetone suggests that the aerobic gain decreases marginally after 90min. If you’ve time, you can do 2 sets - one in morning and one in evening. But any single set should be under 90min.
  4. MAF is your maximum HR
    Lot of beginners assume it is good to get your average HR as MAF. It is not. You should not exceed your MAF HR during the main set. Ok, few seconds here and there is ok, but generally you should slow down before hitting max HR.
  5. Body Temperature is the Key
    If weather is too hot, then body also move blood to skin to make it sweat and cool down. This also increase Heart Rate. So, in summers, good time to do MAF is early morning or evening, when weather is coolor. Or, one can go to the Gym.
  6. Focus on the Deep Breath
    As MAF run is slow in the beginning, and effort is less, it is best time to focus on the running form and deep breathing.
  7. Join Maffetone Group on FB
    It is a wonderful group, and most of the beginners questions are answered there. Good to know that you are not alone in the struggle. You can find the group here

Tips for Advance Runners / Cyclists / Endurance Athlete

  1. If you want to increase MAF pace in lesser time, consider doing workout 4-5 times a week. Weekly mileage of 40-50km will give a very quick run.
  2. As we discussed in part1, Fat is most clean fuel to burn. Fasted runs helps not only to progress quicker in MAF pace, but also helps to burn fat as the fuel.

That’s it for now. I will add in more tips later.

I’ve been following MAF method for more than a year. Not only it has made running a pleasure, but helped me to get faster while staying injury free. Two months back, I did a Half Marathon in 1:58, and my av HR was 154.
Feel free to reach out to me, would love to connect to people trying this out.


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