This article was published on October 6th, 2014
Technology helps in tracking your daily vitals will help you identify trends that contribute to possible overtraining and help you establish a baseline for factors that positively influence your training. Garmin and heart rate monitors provide resting heart rate and watch for elevations that may indicate fatigue or overtraining.
Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
Heart rate is expressed as beats per minute (bpm). The RHR is a person’s heart rate at rest—the lowest number of heartbeats per minute at complete rest. The best time to find out your resting heart rate is in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, before you get out of bed. On average, the heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute when we’re at rest, but for top athletes it can be below 30 bpm. RHR usually rises with age, and it generally decreases as your fitness level increases. RHR is used to determine your training Target Heart Rate (THR). Athletes sometimes measure their RHR as one way to find out if they’re overtrained. An exceptionally high RHR may be a sign of over-exertion or illness.
Average Heart Rate (AHR)
The Average Heart Rate figure (in bpm) is a calculation of your average heart rate during your last workout. You can use this measurement to determine the effectiveness of your exercise program and see your progress.
Target Heart Rate (THR)
The Target Heart Rate is a heart rate range that a person aims for when exercising. Target heart rate zones are expressed as percentages of a person’s maximum heart rate (MHR). Target heart rate lets you measure your initial fitness level and monitor your progress in a fitness program. For a rough estimate of your maximum heart rate (MHR), subtract your age from 220. For first-time exercisers, have your physician perform a stress test to determine your MHR along with your target zones specific to your goal. This is especially important if you are just starting an exercise program or have not exercised for a prolonged period of time. In our book, Running Room’s Book on Running, we have an extensive chapter on heart rate training and establishing target heart rate levels.
Why is establishing daily THR so important?
The most effective way to reach your fitness goal is to exercise in your target heart rate zone. There is a target zone that is right for each day’s workout. For example, if you want to improve aerobic fitness, you need to be working at 70–80% of your MHR, for 40 to 60 minutes per day, 3 to 4 times per week. Some suggested three key target zones to help you achieve specific goals:
- 60–70% Lose Weight or Recover
- 70–80% Improve Aerobic Fitness
- 80+ % Increase Athletic Performance