Your heart rate and your breathing are the two primary ways to determine how hard you are working out. It also determines what “zone” you are in – aerobic or anaerobic.
How To Measure It...
The two best places are on the inside of your wrist on your radial artery and your carotid artery on the side of your neck.
Radial: Find the groove on the inside of your wrist between the bone and the tendons.
Use the fingers (of the opposite hand, of course) to touch gently and feel the pulse – do not push too hard, and do not use your thumb because it has its own pulse which is slightly different.
Carotid: On either side of your neck, also find this one with your fingers and press lightly.
Two other ways are with a heart rate monitor that you wear or the ones that are on most cardio machines.
Resting Heart Rate
To get a true reading of your ticker:
you should take it first thing when you wake up.
It should also be 12 or more hours after consuming anything that could change it, such as caffeine or medications.
Count the first beat as “zero”.
Count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4, or count for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 or count for a whole minute.
Normal Heart Rate Chart
For most people, a lower resting rate means a higher fitness level.
Why is your HR lower if you are more fit? As you become more fit, your heart becomes more efficient. It becomes stronger and the amount of blood per heartbeat (called “stroke volume”) increases.
RHR can be influenced by: medications, alcohol, caffeine, digestion, stress, fatigue and other things.
How To Calculate Your MHR
MHR means just that – it is the maximum rate that you should reach.
The only way to accurately figure your MHR is with a maximum effort exercise test while hooked up to machines.
There are also sub-maximum tests that can be used with treadmills, exercise bikes, walking, and steps that can give good estimates.
The easiest way to come up with your own estimation of MHR is 220-your age…this can vary by +/- 10 to 20 BPM.
Two other formulas are:
208 – (.7 x Age) and
206.9 – (.67 x Age).
These formulas can deviate +/- up to 12 beats per minute (BPM). So do not get too stuck on a particular number.
220 30 year old = 190.
208 – (.7 x 30) = 187
206.9 – (.67 x 30) = 186.8
The problem with “220 – age”
It is really a rough estimation. The people used in the study back in 1971 were not a representation of the general population – and even if they were, there is a wide range for the “average” MHR.
But you do not have to know an exact number.
A more accurate way...
IF you have a certain percentage max HR that you want to know, a more accurate method is to use Heart Rate Reserve, also called the Karvonen Formula.
This takes into account your RHR.
Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) = MHR – RHR.
Target Heart Rate (THR) = (HRR x % intensity) + RHR
Example (Stay with me here…)
30 year old with a RHR of 60 who wants to work out at 70%
220 – 30 = 190 MHR
190 – 60 (RHR) = 130 HRR
THR = (130 x .7) + 60
THR = 151 BPM
The challenge with this formula is that whatever percentage of the maximum you pick, THAT number is also an estimation.
After several times of checking your own HR or checking it with a heart monitor, you will be able to pretty accurately gauge your workout by how you feel.
Click Here to find out how to develop your OWN custom target heart rate chart....