The general rule for resting heart rate is: the lower the better. But, how to know how low or high your resting heart rate is? Here’s how you can prepare for measuring your resting heart rate and how to do it in five steps.
How to prepare
When you make the baseline measurements for your resting heart rate, don’t do any strenuous training leading up to the measurement and make sure you’re fully recovered from any activity.
It’s best to measure your resting heart rate in the morning, right after you wake up. You can do it the old-fashioned way with a timer and a finger on your pulse, but for an accurate and easy way, consider using a heart rate monitor.
Before you go to bed, make sure you have your heart rate monitor (and the soft strap) handy.
When you wake up, it’s OK to go to the bathroom before the measurement if it helps you to relax. Clear away all distractions, like music, and do not speak or be spoken to during the measurement.
It’s best to measure your resting heart rate in the morning, right after you wake up.
You should do the measurement more than once, preferably on consecutive mornings so that you get a baseline for your resting heart rate.
5 steps to measure your resting heart rate
- Put on the soft strap with the heart rate sensor. Lie down on your back. Relax.
- After about 1 minute, start a training session on your heart rate monitor. Choose any sport profile, for example Other indoor.
- Lie still and breathe calmly for 3–5 minutes. Don’t look at the monitor.
- Stop the training session on your watch. Check the summary for your average heart rate and the value of your lowest heart rate (this is your resting heart rate). Mark the value of the lowest heart rate in your training diary and update it to your physical settings in Polar Flow. (Having truthful and up-to-date physical settings is key to getting reliable feedback.)
- Repeat the test every 1 to 3 weeks following the original setting as closely as possible.
Analyzing the results
The point of measuring your resting heart rate is to evaluate your recovery status and the development of your aerobic fitness. When you do the test under the same or very similar circumstances, it will help you monitor your current recovery status, possible overload state and whether your fitness has improved.
As your level of fitness improves, your resting heart rate typically goes down about 1–2 beats for every 2 months.
It is not uncommon that your resting heart rate is up by 2–5, sometimes even 5–7, beats per minute during hard training periods compared to a well-recovered state.
During a less intensive week, the resting heart rate should fall back to where it was during the previous less intensive week, or hopefully even slightly below that. As your level of fitness improves, your resting heart rate typically goes down about 1–2 beats for every 2 months.
For beginners, it might be even more if they simultaneously lose weight and improve their nutrition.
If you want an easy way to gauge your current fitness level, consider taking the Polar Fitness Test regularly.
Tools for measuring your resting heart rate
- Polar A370: This fitness tracker comes with continuous heart rate tracking and Polar Sleep Plus sleep tracking.
- Polar M430: GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate.
- Polar H10: The soft strap with the heart rate sensor. You can use this with several Polar products, including Polar M430, Polar V800 and the new Polar Vantage multisport watches.
- Polar Beat: The free fitness and training app from Polar. Pair it with Polar H10 to see your heart rate.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.