Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is a measure of how many times your heart beats per minute when you are resting, and is therefore a good approach to checking your approximate level of cardio fitness at any time.
How do I measure my heart rate?
Hold one hand with your palm facing upward and place the index and middle fingertips of your other hand at the base of your thumb on your inner wrist, on what known as the radial artery. If you can’t feel anything, press harder or move your fingers around until you find your pulse.
Count the pulse for 15 seconds, using a watch or phone to keep time, then multiply the result by 4 to determine your heart rate.
Alternatively, you may find it easier to take your pulse on the side of your neck, just under your jawbone, on what known as the carotid artery.
When should I check my RHR?
If using RHR on its own, the best time to check it is when you wake up in the morning, because this is the time when your body is relaxed at its most.
However, any time when you’ve been resting for at least 10 minutes and you’re not stressed is okay. It’s best not to have recently consumed any caffeine-based drinks or other stimulants since they can artificially increase your pulse.
What do the results mean?
Generally, the lower your RHR, the more cardio fit you are. Nevertheless, RHR varies with age, overall health, and weight, so a cardio fit heart rate isn’t the same for everybody. However, by establishing your RHR before starting a new workout routine, you can use it as a benchmark to see how you’re progressing.
If your heart rate lowers with regular exercise, this can mean you’re getting fitter. If it’s not changing, you should increase your workout level.
How often should I check it?
Monitor your RHR as often as you want. However, despite the fact that every workout counts, don’t count on any real difference until about four weeks into a regular routine.