What the Peloton Strive Score Reveals About Your Fitness, According to a Cardiologist

Photo: Getty Images/Thomas Barwick
If you’re totally over the leaderboard on Peloton (who wants to come in 31,000th place after pedaling so fast you almost puke?!) then the Strive Score—Peloton’s latest metric—might be perfect for you. But what is a good Peloton Strive Score, and what should you be aiming for? Let’s get into it.

What is the Peloton Strive Score?

“The Peloton strive score is a personal, non-competitive score that breaks down how much time you spend in different heart rate zones during a workout,” says Jennifer Haythe, MD, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University, co-director of Columbia Women's Heart Center, and a critical care cardiologist. “It's meant to be a way to track the time you spend in different heart rate zones through different workouts on different days over time.”

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How do you get a Strive Score? 

So now that whole “went so hard I almost puked” thing actually has a metric, and it’s linked to your heart rate. To make it work, you’ll need a compatible heart rate monitor (or HRM, like an Apple Watch)—and, of course, a Peloton bike or treadmill.

The latest Bike+ is exclusively compatible with Apple Watch, but the OG Peloton bike and Tread can connect to Bluetooth LE and ANT+ HRMs, like the Whoop strap or Peloton HRM strap. If you have a Bike+ and an Apple Watch, there’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Apple Watch with Peloton, connect the two, and get your Strive Score rolling when you clip in.

If you don’t have a piece of Peloton equipment at home, you soon will be able to use the Strive Score using the Peloton app, Apple TV app, or Fire TV app. (Currently, it's only available for people with All-Access membership.)

Speaking of heart rate monitors, here's everything to know about how they work—and why cardiologists love them:

How is a Strive Score calculated?

Peloton follows CDC guidelines for target heart rate. “Target heart rate is [the number] 220, minus your age,” Dr. Haythe says. Using this equation, a 30-year-old’s max target heart rate would be 190 beats per minute.

However—and this is a big however!—don’t hang out at that number for too long. “This does not mean you should exercise at that top heart rate for extended periods,” warns Dr. Haythe. “In fact, the recommendation is to achieve about 80-85 percent of your predicted max heart rate during exercise,” which for a 30-year-old would be roughly 152-161 beats per minute. Fortunately, you don’t need to do any of that math, because the Strive Score does it for you.

What should your Strive Score Be?

In terms of how intensely you should be exercising, this may come down to your heart health. “The general recommendation by the American Heart Association is to get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week or a combination of the two,” says Dr. Haythe.

So how does this translate to a Strive Score? That final number may indicate whether you were at a moderate or vigorous intensity level. Peloton’s site explains that this algorithm favors a higher heart rate, therefore a more intense workout (and HR) yields a higher score. “We are aware that this is only one of many conceptual frameworks that are used to help people achieve their own individual fitness goals.” Ultimately, your “best” score, or a “good” Strive Score comes down to your goals, your body, and where you’re at with your workouts.

Why a Strive Score can be a better metric than a leaderboard

Your heart, body composition, stamina, and fitness level are all factors in what makes for a challenging workout, and (obviously) we’re all different. What might be a soul-crushing workout for one person could be a cakewalk for you, and vice versa. With Strive Score, you’re looking at how challenging a particular workout was for your own body, with a more specific metric than “that felt hard.” By monitoring your heart rate, you can become more in tune with your body, and know which feelings translate to which intensity level.

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