Heart rate for fitness explained

Heart rate for fitness explained

Do you know your resting, exercise and maximum heart rate? Many people don’t know, many have probably never even thought about it, but your heart rate can give a clear indication of your fitness levels and also help you optimise your training.

There are three heart rate readings which are of importance to trainers. Firstly, there is the resting heart rate. As the name suggests, this is the number of heart beats per minute whilst you are not performing any form of activity. The best time to take this reading is first thing in the morning, using your index finger to apply slight pressure over your radial artery in your wrist to take a measurement. Secondly, there is the exercise heart rate. This is the number of heart beats per minute during prolonged exercise. This reading is best taken from the side of the neck. Thirdly, there is the maximum heart rate, which is the 100% maximum heart beats per second when exercising.

An average resting heart beat reading is around 70bpm for a male and 75bpm for a female, although this can range drastically from person to person, from as little as 45bpm, up to 100bpm. Becoming more physically active will usually result in your resting heart rate decreasing, as your body becomes much more efficient. Taking your resting heart rate can therefore be a good gauge of your fitness level, or at least one major aspect of your fitness level.

Finding your maximum heart rate

The basic way in which many professionals determine maximum heart rate is by taking a person’s age in years away from 220 (220-age). So the maximum heart rate for a 25 year old would be 195bpm, for example (220-25=195). This is a rather simplistic formula, as you probably realise, yet it does allow us to calculate a rough target zone; 75-85% of your maximum heart rate. The 25 year old would take his/her 195bpm maximum heart rate and multiply it by 0.75 and 0.85 to see his/her target zone. In this example, the target zone is 146bpm-166bpm. The target zone is considered the optimal heart beat for cardiovascular benefit and maximum fat burning.



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