T Nation

Resting Heart Rate


Just wondering for the serious lifters here, do you track your resting heart rate? Is it still a relevant indicator of fitness and heart health?
I mean....endurance athletes have very low resting heart rate and they aren't necessarily healthy. By the same token a heavy of squats can gas me out and send my heart rate to the roof, but am I fit?

Im 43 this year, weighing 165lb at 17% bodyfat. What should my ideal resting heart rate be? I strength train 5x a week(compound lifts) with very little conditioning or HIIT work. Should I be concerned?

Back in my zealous cross fit days I had a RHR of 45-50. I have since stopped due to injury overuse.


It is one of those indicators that is quite reliable. It is a way to get in touch with your body's rhythms.

Just take your pulse every morning before getting out of bed. You will find your average by yourself. As you get in better shape, your BPM will go down, slowly. Once you have established a threshold, you will find that when it goes up, the is "something" wrong. Be it stress, being sick, anxiety, excitement, etc. That is where you will find out how attuned you are to your body. It gets easier with time.

This is not a barometer for how you will feel every day. It is just a simple tool. So, I am not sure what you mean by being concerned... Concerned with what?

What is your RHR? No two people are alike. Get the average and go from there. No two people are the same, so i can give you a number between 40 and 100, where 40 is more for athletes.


Personaly at 47 and a life long Crit cyclist and mtn bike racer, mine is 48.
Meb Keflezighi, who I worked with for 5 years is about 42. His sleeping is about 28-33.

Many many factors will factor into this...

Any consistent athlete, whether power, strength or endurance will generally have a resting between 45-60.


The way in which endurance athletes train has a different conditioning effect from the way in which strength athletes train.

Lots of people say that high intensity training has the same effect as longer duration cardio. There is some overlap but one doesn't entirely replace the other.

From memory then:

High intensity training thickens the wall of the left ventricle of the heart. This allows the heart to pump faster and keep that work rate up for longer.

Lower intensity, higher volume training stretches and enlarges the left ventricle of the heart. This allows the heart to pump more blood with each heart beat.

The latter will do more to reduce resting heart rate.

Higher volume training lets you do more without the body having to work hard.
Higher intensity training lets you work harder for longer.


The rate at which your HR returns slows after a stressor is a more accurate indicator of cardio health IMO. My RHR goes as low as 40 but my conditioning performance does not reflect that.


I would recommend you check out your HRV rather than just your heart rate. Heart rate is nice, but HRV can show you much more accurately how your heart is doing, what days it is best to train on, and what days you might want to rest on. Granted, it is the latest fad in the fitness industry, but at least the science behind it is promising and consistent.



And how do you measure that on a regular basis? I gave my Bat Belt away when I was 7...


HR depends on numerous factors

what you ate that day
what you've been eating
your stress levels
how you slept
what you're thinking about
physical activity
etc etc
Hence, HRV > resting HR


That as been established already.

Again, how do you measure on a regular basis?


I check mine every morning after I wake up, and in the afternoons after I train. HRV is NOT about continuous monitoring. It is about checking how "ready" your heart is for exertion for the day. IE when the variance is greatest, your heart is happiest and ready for an intense day, and when it is more like a steady metronome, you know it is best to take a day off and relax. If you check it daily for a week or two, you get an understanding of what the HRV range of your heart is, and how healthy your heart is.

HRV is not to be checked while you are training.

I use a fairly standard chest strap (make sure it is compatible with whatever program you use) and an iphone app to check mine.



I get it now.

Years ago, a friend of mine with heart problems had tests done. He carried around with him the equivalent of a hand held tape recorder with him.

I see the apps with a heart rate monitor are now available. I'll have to look at this further.



I'm not sold on HRV for the average athlete who isn't pushing the limit but if you are then sure.

I recently eased back into base building, kicking and screaming, and my RHR and my HR reduction after running has improved already.


Oh, I agree. I'm not sold on it either. I was just saying that at least the science looks promising and not fruit loopy. I was recommending it for the OP who wanted to check his heart health. Outside of a battery of tests done at a cardiologist, I think HRV is the best thing someone can do at home for general heart health.

How necessary is it for non-elite athletes? Probably not at all, so I agree with you on that.