Brooklyn Personal Trainer: Resting and Recovery Heart Rate

With Brooklyn Personal Trainer we’ll be giving you our best one-on-one exercise and wellness advice and ideas. Brooklyn Personal Trainer articles are meant to get you thinking, get you inspired, get you moving. If you’re in the area, come in and visit us in Prospect Heights – Pura Vida Urban Fitness: 184 Underhill Avenue, Brooklyn NY. Try an intro-package for only $33 per session + tax (for 3 sessions).

Why take your resting and recovery heart rates…

When we do a fitness test at Pura Vida Urban Fitness we measure for both Resting Heart Rate and Recovery Heart Rate. The lower your resting heart rate and recovery heart rate are, the more blood your heart muscle is pumping through your circulatory system with every beat. A champion athlete like Lance Armstrong can have a resting heart rate of 32 beats per minute – the average person has a healthy range of between 60 to 100 beats per minute. As you exercise and become more fit you will notice a drop in both your resting and recovery heart rates. Thus resting and recovery heart rates are good measures of your body’s increased capability to perform and your increasing physical wellness.

Measuring your resting heart rate…

Resting heart rate is most accurately measured right when you wake up in the morning. Ideally, you would wake up naturally (aka not by alarm) and take your pulse (for either a full minute or for 30 seconds x 2). You would do this over the course of 3 days and then take an average and that would give you your resting heart rate. I find that it’s highly unlikely I’ll be waking up without the use of an alarm – you can get a good idea of your resting heart rate by just taking it first thing in the morning (again – take the average of 3 mornings and that is your resting heart rate). You should fall within the range of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Measuring your recovery heart rate…

To get an idea of your recovery heart rate you can use a 3-minute step test. You will need a step (around 12″ if possible), a timer and a metronome. Here’s a quick break down of the process:

  1. Set the metronome to 96 beats per minute. If you don’t have a metronome, but you have a smart phone, there are several free metronome applications available.
  2. Set the step up ( a regular stair in your home or in a park will do if you don’t have access to an aerobic step) and have the timer in hand or have someone to time you.
  3. Begin timing as you step on and off the step to the rhythm of the metronome ( this should correspond to one foot placement per beat – for example on beat one your right foot lands on the step, on beat two your left foot lands on the step, on beat three your right foot returns to the floor, on beat four your left foot returns to the floor).
  4. It isn’t essential, but half way though (at 1.5 minutes) you can switch your lead foot – for balance and to break up the routine a little.
  5. As soon as you’re done, have a seat on the step and take your pulse for one minute (or 30 seconds x 2).

Take your result and compare it to the following:

for men…

  • Excellent <71
  • Good 71-102
  • Fair 103-117
  • Poor 118-147
  • Very Poor 148+

for women…

  • Excellent <97
  • Good 97-127
  • Fair 128-142
  • Poor 143-171
  • Very Poor 172+

If you have a score of good to excellent, congratulations! Keep up the good work. If you have a score of fair or below, consider getting in some more cardiovascular exercise – try regular base building (longer duration low intensity exercise) and higher intensity interval training (repeatedly exerting yourself to the point of breathlessness before letting yourself recover) – before you know it, you’ll be seeing your numbers drop into the good and excellent range.

If you are an athlete, I recommend skipping the 3 minute step test and trying out the beep test instead, as the step test will tell you that you are in excellent condition, but it won’t be as specific in providing you with a comparison to other athletes and individuals in excellent condition.

resources

“CNNSI.com – Statitudes – Statitudes: Lance Armstrong – By The Numbers – Friday July 19, 2002 09:03 AM.” Breaking news, real-time scores and daily analysis from Sports Illustrated – SI.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2011. <http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com

” 3 Minute Step Test Protocol .”County of Riverside, Human Resources Department . N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2011. <http://www.rc-hr.com/wellness/LEMUWellnessProgram/3MinuteStepTestProtocol/tabid/2054/Default.aspx>.

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