Generic guidelines for recording, interpreting and monitoring resting heart rate:

Recording:

“resting heart rate (the number of heart beats per minute) should be taken after a few minutes upon waking whilst still lying in bed. Give your body some time to adjust to the change from sleeping before taking your pulse (2-5 minutes). If you are not able to take a measurement first thing in the morning, make sure you lie down for at least 10 minutes before taking a measurement. Taking a radial or carotid pulse measurement (at the wrist or neck) is usually the easiest method.”

Interpreting: obtaining a baseline and monitoring for overtraining.

Interpreting: over a period of a couple of months during a normal and non stress-ful training regime, an average resting heart rate can be obtained. This is used as a baseline reading when evaluating whether training stress is too hard or not.

Monitoring: the generic guideline for being in an over-trained state is if your resting heart rate, over at least 2 to 3 consecutive days is 5 to 10 beats higher than your baseline reading. Being in an over-trained state is not all bad, but training will probably need to be modified if heart rate remains 10 beats above baseline for more than 3 days. In addition to monitoring your heart rate, other symptoms can indicate that you’re over-trained:

* In/decreased appetite

* Disturbed sleeping patterns

* Lethargy/tiredness

* Waking up from your night sleep feeling un-refreshed

* Irregular menstrual cycle

Also of note is what happens when you begin to train hard (becoming over-trained) – your heart rate changes subtly. First you might notice an increase in average heart rate during exercise. Once you become significantly tired from training your average heart rate will remain low. Meanwhile your resting heart rate may decrease initially (below baseline), then one day it will jump up to over the recommended guideline. This is when it pays to modify your training.

Changes in Resting Heart Rate

During a period of training, small changes in resting heart rate can reflect adaptation processes, or just a normal responses to the previous days training load. Resting heart rates can also be affected by ensuing illness, fatigue and overtraining. Also be aware that other factors such as smoking and caffeine, and some medications, can cause changes in resting heart rate. If your resting heart rate is 10 beats per minute or greater above normal then please let your coach know, and if it persists you may want to see your doctor.

What should it be?

Normal resting heart rates range anywhere from 40 beats per minute up to 100 beats per minute. Ideally you want to have a resting heart rate between 60-90 beats per minute. The average resting heart rate for a man is 70 beats per minute, and for a woman 75 beats per minute.

How Fit are you?

As you get fitter, your resting heart rate should decrease. This is due to the heart getting more efficient at pumping blood around the body, so at rest more blood can be pumped around with each beat, therefore less beats per minute are needed. See this resting heart rate chart which shows the expected heart rate for different ages and levels of fitness.