Heart rates can be confusing. You are told one thing from doctors, one thing from fitness professionals, and somehow yours may not even fit with those two. I have gotten asked numerous times what exactly your heart rate means, and what it should be when exercising.
Everyone’s story is a little bit different so please never base your health on my post! For instance, Aaron is on a beta- blocker due to his heart which significantly reduces his heart rate. In that case, he never wants to get his up to a level you or I may reach!
What does Heart Rate mean?
Heart rate is simply how fast your heart is beating per minute. It’s also known as your pulse, so you can check yours near your wrist or on your neck. Heart rate is an indication of how well your heart is working. Your resting heart rate is when you are sitting or laying, not exercising or moving. This shows the lowest amount of blood you need.
What is a good Resting Heart Rate?
Resting heart rates will vary from person to person. In general, a heart rate of 60-100 as your resting heart rate is good. Athletes and those who workout a lot may have lower heart rates, as well as those on medicine. It can fluctuate due to a lot of things, so if you’re ever concerned, bring it up to your doctor.
What are the heart rate zones?
When you’re working out, you may have heard or a fat burning zone, target heart rate zone, etc. and those are a “photographic” picture of what your heart is doing. But of course, this isn’t the end all. Some people say there are 5 zones, some say 7, some say it depends on the sport. Sometimes I feel like I’m barely working when I am in the “fat burning” zone so how could I be burning the fat? Here’s a breakdown of what the zones are:
While many will try to hit the fat burn state, because, well, it’s burning fat, I am not big on that. This article explains more about the dangers of the heart rate zone.
What’s my Max Heart Rate:
While there are various ways to determine this, and the most precise will lead you to a lab to get tested, a typical equation is to take 220 – (your age). For instance, I’m 25, so my max heart rate would be 220-25=195.
To be honest, I don’t really rely on my heart rate at all. I can tell if I am really pushing it and when to back off, but other than that, I just give it the effort I can. Of course, this varies depending on your health as well. I also know many people believe there is an absolute for pregnant ladies who work out and what their heart rate “shouldn’t” go above, but I would argue not to believe that. The new beliefs are it’s fine to work out and raise your heart rate (Within safe non pregnant limits as well) but using the talk test or the rate of perceived exertion test to make sure you are ok. I talk more about that here.