Your Rest Heart Rate

Establishing your rest heart rate is easy. But why would you want to establish your rest heart rate ?

Well, there are a few good reasons :

  • Identify your heart rate zones with the well-know Method of Karvonen

  • Find out if you are ready for a hard day

  • So let's find out now how high your rest heart rate exactly is.


    For your convenience I'll put the links to some heart rate formula pages here. Click on these links to get more info about heart rate running zones:

    For Karvonen's method of establishing heart rate training zones... Click here!

    For Zoladz's method of establishing heart rate training zones... Click here!

    For an explanation of how to establish your maximum heart rate... Click here!

    When do you measure your rest heart rate ?

    You measure your rest heart rate when you are completely at rest. Surprising hey?

    Do you have one of those spiffy heart rate monitors or fitness watches? One that tells you after your training what the minimum and maximum heart rate were of the training session or one that monitors your heart rate 24/7?

    A heart rate monitor like that is very convenient now. Not necessary, but convenient.

    Take a rest day (= no running). Then wear your heart rate monitor at night. After you wake up find out what your lowest heart rate was of the night. That is your rest heart rate.

    Keep in mind that some fitness watches display a rest heart rate that is an average over a certain period and it may not be your real lowest heart rate. I have a watch like that. I can see on the charts that my lowest heart rate is generally a good 5 - 10 beats lower than what my watch displays as my rest heart rate, so have a good look at what the number means on your watch, before drawing any conclusions.

    You don't have a heart rate monitor like that? Or you don't even have a heart rate monitor? No worries! Measure your pulse immediately after waking up. Don't get up out of bed, don't do anything. Hold your pulse for ten seconds. Multiply by six. And you have your rest heart rate.

    Exercise the night before or a troublesome night (waking kids or pets, bad dreams etc.) will have their effect on your rest heart rate. Please take that into account when doing this test.

    Variations in rest heart rate

    Suppose you have done the rest heart rate test. Will your rest heart rate always be this value? How will this rest heart rate vary over time... ?

    Two important guidelines
    1. The better fitness you have the lower your rest heart rate will be So if you train consistently you will experience a decreasing rest heart rate.
    User of Karvonen's method for calculating the heart rate training zones?
    Then you will have to do the rest heart rate test periodically. Everytime, establish your new rest heart rate and use this in Karvonen's formulas.

    2. Tiredness increases your rest heart rate As you might already know it is good to alternate between hard and easy days. This gives your body the opportunity to recover.

    Your rest heart rate can tell you a lot as well. Want to know if you are ready again for a hard day? Check your rest heart rate! If your body is tired your rest heart rate will be higher than normal. So wait until it is back to its low level and then do a hard training session again.

    So measuring your rest heart rate daily can give you a wealth of information. Using this information is up to you, but at least now you know how you can.

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