Measuring is knowledge

A daily measurement of rest heartrate

The project

Monitoring the rest heartrate of an athlete.

Supercompensation

The fitness level of a human body in training can be broken down into four periods: initial fitness, training, recovery, and supercompensation. During the initial fitness period, the target of the training has a base level of fitness (shown by the first time sector in the graph). Upon entering the training period, the target's level of fitness decreases (shown by the second time sector in the graph).

image

After training, the body enters the recovery period during which level of fitness increases up to the initial fitness level (shown by the third time sector in the graph). Because the human body is an adjustable organism, it will feel the need to adjust itself to a higher level of fitness in anticipation of the next training session. Accordingly, the increase in fitness following a training session does not stop at the initial fitness level. Instead the body enters a period of supercompensation during which fitness surpasses the initial fitness level (shown by the fourth time sector in the graph). If there are no further workouts, the body's fitness level will slowly decline back towards the initial fitness level (shown by the last time sector in the graph). First put forth by Hungarian scientist Nikolai Jakowlew in 1976, this theory is a basic principle of athletic training.

If the next workout takes place during the recovery period, overtraining may occur. If the next workout takes place during the supercompensation period, the body will advance to a higher level of fitness. If the next workout takes place after the supercompensation period, the body will remain at the base level.

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.

Get a baseline measure

You can monitor your resting heart rate over time, writing down the heart rate each morning for a few weeks. After a while you will get an idea of what your average resting heart rate is. Once a normal resting heart rate has been established, it becomes easy to determine your physiological state.

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.

Resting Heart Rate

image

The measurement of resting heart rate or pulse 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.

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.

Trivia

According to the Guinness World Records, the lowest resting heart rate on record is 27 bpm belonging to Martin Brady (UK, b. 24 March 1969) - tested at the Guernsey Chest and Heart Unit, Channel Islands, UK on 11 August 2005.