Your Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate(RHR), is not only a good measure of your fitness, it can also be a reliable indicator of how well your body is recovering from your workouts. There are two good reasons why you should care about monitoring your RHR periodically.

First, unlike your maximum heart rate , your RHR does respond to the training stimulus of aerobic conditioning. This means that the fitter you get the lower your RHR will generally become. For example, while an RHR of 55 to 60 bpm is average for the general population, many endurance athletes possess RHRs in the low 50's and high 30's! This decrease in RHR is due to the increase in 'stroke power' that you experience as your heart becomes stronger. So a decline in your RHR over time is a good indicator of your increase in fitness.

The second and probably most important reason that you should periodically measure your resting heart rate, is to detect when your RHR is higher than normal. Since your RHR is such a great biomarker for what is going on with your body, an elevated RHR is a classic sign of fatigue or overtraining. Since how we 'feel' is not always completely in sync with what is going on with our heart, detecting a persistent increase in your RHR can serve as an early warning sign to overtaining. Heeding this warning by incorporating more recovery into your training program can help you to avoid going into a chronic overtraining state.

How to Measure Your Resting Heart Rate

The most accurate time to measure your RHR is the moment you open your eyes first thing in the morning. You want to avoid doing anything that will elevate your heart rate including sitting up. If you're not already facing your alarm clock, slowly roll over so that you can see the time. Place your first two fingers on your neck over your corotid artery. Count how many times your heart beats in a minute. Do this a few times and take your average heart rate.

Another method that I employ is using my heart rate monitor. I make sure before bed that I have my heart rate monitor on my nightstand and my belt within easy reach. As soon as I open my eyes, I slowly reach for, prep and apply the heart rate belt to my chest and relax. My monitor does all the work while I watch for a couple of minutes.
Read more about your 'normal' resting heart rate!

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