Resting heart rate
Resting heart rate (HR rest) stands for the lowest heart rate when awake and at rest.
It's a good indicator of the development of your aerobic fitness. When your resting heart rate decreases in the long run, as a direct result of training, it is safe to assume that your aerobic fitness has improved.
The important thing about resting heart rate is to monitor how your own HR rest develops. You should not compare it with someone else. The reason for this is that there might be a difference of up to 20 bpm in the HR rest of two persons and yet the one with the higher resting heart rate might be aerobically the fitter of the two.
When and how to measure your resting heart rate
It is recommended to measure your resting heart rate in the morning after a rest day. The measurement should be performed in supine position (horizontal) in the morning, immediately after waking up.
1. Firstly wet your heart rate sensor and then put on. Lie down horizontally. Relax.
2. After about 1 minute start a training session on your heart rate monitor. Choose any sport profile, for example Other indoor.
3. Lie still and breathe calmly for 3–5 minutes. Don’t look at the monitor.
4. Stop the training session on your watch. Check the summary for your average heart rate: this is your resting heart rate.
5. Repeat the test every 1 to 3 weeks following the original setting as closely as possible.
Factors influencing your resting heart rate
There are a great number of factors that can affect your resting heart rate. The following are only a few examples just to give you an idea.
Mental or physical stress increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous branch of the autonomic nervous system and respectively decreases the activity of the parasympathetic branch. These can be sensed as an increase in the resting heart rate.
State of mind
Different emotions affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When you're very calm, the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system lowers your heart rate. When you're very excited, for example feeling aggression, your heart rate increases. So by controlling your emotions you can also control your resting heart rate indirectly.
Your genome is one of the most important factors affecting the resting heart rate. The effect of genes on the resting heart rate can see a difference of more than 20 beats per minute, in different people of the same age and level of fitness.
Training heart rate
Training heart rate describes the heart rate value that you sustain during exercise, at any given moment. By training in a range of heart rate zones, you should see some improvements to your overall fitness. To improve your baseline endurance, you should ensure to train in a low heart rate
Aerobic fitness is one of the most important components of endurance performance. The measure of aerobic fitness is the efficiency of the muscles to use the oxygen, which is transported in the blood and pumped around the body by the heart, to the working muscles.
Increasing aerobic fitness means increasing the capability of the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system, in their most important task, which is to provide oxygen and supply energy to the body. Measuring your heart rate while training helps you to improve your aerobic fitness because it eliminates the guesswork and shows exactly what your effort level is.
Insights to your aerobic capacity and performance
Training heart rate can be expressed for example in beats per minute or as a percentage of your individual maximum heart rate. When training with specific goals, the training heart rate should be adjusted to achieve the desired results.
Monitoring your training heart rate in similar, repetitive exercises provides some estimation of where your aerobic fitness is headed. For example, if your heart rate is below the usual value for similar exercises and you feel good, it can be assumed that your daily performance is above the basic level or that your aerobic capacity has developed in the long run.
Maximum heart rate
Maximum heart rate describes the highest possible heart rate a person can achieve under physical exertion.
Indicator of your heart's maximum capacity
When you reach your personal maximum heart rate in your workout, it means that your heart is working at its maximum capacity.
The most common formula used to estimate your maximum heart rate is 220 – age. It holds true for a large part of the population. On the individual level, however, the formula may be off by dozens of beats, which is why you should find your maximum heart rate in an actual training situation or by doing a fitness test (a lab test or a field test).
Heart rate variability (HRV)
Hearts don’t always work like clockwork when it comes to the regularity of a beat. Heart rate variability means the variation of the intervals between individual heart beats. It also reflects the effect of the autonomic nervous system activity on the heart.
During physical exertion, heart rate increases and heart rate variability decreases. Conversely as the body relaxes, for instance when you’re reading a book in peace and quiet or when you’re sleeping, heart rate is usually lower the and heart rate variability tends to be higher.
Hard physical training and, for example, a lot of mental stress can lower heart rate variability compared to your usual level at rest. This is a sign of the body being in an overloaded state and in need of recovery.
Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max)
VO2max stands for maximal oxygen uptake. It is, by definition, the maximal rate at which oxygen can be used by the body, during maximal physical exertion involving large muscle groups.
VO2max is a good index of aerobic fitness and a good predictor of performance capability in aerobic sports such as distance running, cycling, cross-country skiing, and swimming.
How to measure VO2max?
VO2max can be predicted or measured with various tests, of which some are performed with actual exercise and some at rest. To name a few examples, maximal and submaximal tests are often performed on a treadmill or exercise bike. You can also use the Polar Fitness Test, a simple 5-minute test that is performed at rest.
VO2max can be expressed either as millilitres per minute (ml/min) or this value can be divided by the person’s body weight in kilograms (ml/min/kg).
The relationship between oxygen uptake (VO2) and heart rate (HR) is linear within an individual during submaximal dynamic exercise. When your heart rate goes up, your VO2 goes up.