what should your heart rate be

what should your heart rate be-

 

 

Your heart rate is an excellent indicator of your over all heart health as well as your level of fitness including cardiovascular fitness. The thing I find is that most people tend to relate being fit to looking good and don't necesserily check in on their heart rate enough.

I am currrently writing up an up and coming book which will cover heart rate in a lot more detail than I go on my blog but from studying and qualifying as a Heart Rate Performance Coach with NESTA and from my own personal observations, I have noted that a) Heart rate monitoring is incredibly important in reaching your health and fitness goals and that b) Not enough people know the ins and outs of heart rate monitoring and most people ask the question, "What should your heart rate be" – So, let's discuss that in today's blog post.

What is heart rate

Your heart rate indicates the rate at which your heart pumps blood through your body is measured in Beats per minute (BPM). Simply put, the number of times your heart beats per minute is your heart rate. This indicates how hard your heart as to work in order to get enough blood pumping through your body and is a good indicator of both your heart health and your overall health after all, you don't want your heart working too hard during rest!

Measuring Heart Rate

Heart rate can be measured in various ways. The most accurate way is to use a heart rate monitor which measures the electrical impulses created by the heart and are fairly affordable (Check out Polar Heart Rate Monitors). Other than that, you can check your own heart rate by placing two fingers (Index and forefinger) accross your wrist or by your neck until you feel the pulse of your heart beat. You can then time how many pulses you feel in a minute and that will be your BPM. Don't measure your heart rate with your thumb because it has it's own pulse and can be misleading if you're counting the beats from that.

what should my heart rate be wrist

 

 

 

 

 

Checking the heart rate using the wrist.. remember don't use your thumb

 

what should my heart rate be neckjpg

Or you can use the two fingers (Not Thumb!) on the neck method :)

Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is your heart rate at rest i.e. when you're not performing any physically exherting tasks or are stressed. It is therefore best to take your resting heart rate upon first thing in the morning when you rise as it gives you your best indication of your RHR since you're not stressed or stimulated however, it can also be taken during periods of rest during the day. If you are going to measure your resting heart rate any time other than first thing in the morning, take note not to have any stimulants such as caffeine or put yourself through any stress or anxiety, including any physical exercise, as this will effect your heart rate.


Heart Rate Chart

So, what should a regular RHR look like for a healthy person? The following chart will give you an idea of what your heart rate should be.

 

 

 

 

what should your heart rate be

 

The above are obviously a guideline and as you can see, people who are athletic have a lower RHR than most. This is because athletes who train regularly are fit from a cardiovascular perpsective, in other words, their heart is strong and pumps blood more efficiently and as a result, at resting levels, their heart does not have to work as hard. This is one of the reasons exercise and fitness is so important especially to people who work under stressful conditions to help them avoid any heart attacks or other heart issues such as heart disease or angina. One caveat here is that if you find that your resting heart rate is low and you're not an athlete, it may be an indication of their being something wrong and I would suggest going to the doctor to get an ECG done. Also, if you find that after measuring your RHR, you're below average or poor according to the above chart, I would again seek medical advice.

 

Heart Rate Zones

As well as your RHR, there are oher measures of your heart rate you should be aware of, especially if health and fitness are of concern. Again, I am only going to touch on these briefly as to go into detail would be to go beyond the scope of a blog post/article and I could (and am!) writing a book about this 😉

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) – This is, as the name suggests, your maximum heart rate. Going close to this is only possible in short bursts at best. You can use a simple method to estimate your maximum heart rate by taking 220 – Age and you're left with your max heart rate. Obviously it is a very crude measure as it does not take many variables into account and the best way to get your max heart rate yourself is to get it measured either by a trained person or by using a polar heart monitoring device

Once you have determined your MHR, you can now exercise according to your goals by making sure that when you exercise, you're heart rate is within a heart rate zone based on your goals and objectives by training at a percentage of your maximum heart rate. The following chart shows an estimation of your  Target Heart Rate (THR) as a percentage of your MHR (Based on the calculation 220 – Age)

 

 

Age

Beats Per Minue

 

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

65

70

 

100%

200

195

190

185

180

175

170

165

155

150

 

90%

180

176

171

167

162

158

153

149

140

135

 

80%

160

156

152

148

144

140

136

132

124

120

 

70%

140

137

133

130

126

123

119

116

109

105

 

60%

120

117

114

111

108

105

102

99

93

90

 

50%

100

98

95

93

90

88

85

82

78

75

 

 

The Zones above can be broken down into the following categories:

 

90-100%

Maximum effort – Training at this level should physically last no longer than 2-5 minutes as you're working at your VO2Max. An example of this would be full on sprints

80-90%

Anaerobic Zone – Hard training at this level sees you working out in your Anaerobic zone. High Intensity Iterval training or intenst weight training is an example

70-80%

Aerobic Zone – Aerobic training is great for improving cardiovascular fitness as well as overall V02Max and can be performed for longer periods of time.

60-70%

Fat Burning Zone – A more lighter paced workout. This is called your fat burning zone because you're engaged in lipolysis (using fat for energy)

50-60%

Moderate Zone (Warm up/cool down) – Very light and low level activity, This zone is ideal for warming up and cooling down such as stretching

 

Based on the above training zones, you can now decide on structuring your training in accordance with your goals. Each of the various zones have their purposes and it is important in my opinion that, no matter what your overall goal is, to incorporate training in all of these zones at some point in your training in a given week.

 

If your overall goal is fat loss, then you could tailor most of your training in the fat loss zone. Although this doesn't give the entire or accurate picture of fat loss in general, it can serve as a useful guide when doing low level activity to ensure your fat burning potential is optimised. On a side not, it is often where the misconception arises that in order to lose weight, one must spend hours on the treadmill doing low intensity cardio training such as jogging. This misconception fails to mention that the overall picture of fat loss is not as simple as doing exercise and eating less calories than one burns a day (creating a caloric deficit – you'll burn more calories training at higher workout intensities than those in the fat burning zone saving you time and getting you fitter overall) but by ensuring one has sufficient lean muscle mass to improve ones resting metabolic rate as well as other hormonal factors.

If your goal is more sport specific then you will find using target heart rates and training zones an excellent way of knowing what kind of activities you should be doing. For example, a sprinter would gain far more benefit working out at the Anaerobic level and above than Aerobic and below since their sport is one that uses the Anaerobic energy system.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author Fahad

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