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The effort you put into completing specific activities impacts the outcome of your workout routine. Understanding your in-exercise effort for your fitness goals and age range is invaluable for top-notch training and recovery.

Your heart rate is an accurate measurement of your workout effort. It’s widely accepted as a significant fitness metric, compatible with many fitness apps and various forms of fitness equipment. Basically, it’s a metric you should get to know and love. 

This article is a quick guide on everything you need to know about heart rate training: How to track it, where it should be for your age range and fitness goals, and how to use it to fine tune your workouts for success!

Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is a measure of how fast your heart beats when you’re at rest, such as while laying in bed or watching television. A resting heart rate reading between 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM) is normal and healthy. Your resting heart rate will decrease as your physical fitness improves. Athletes, for example, may get readings as low as 40 BPM. However, check with your primary care physician for a proper resting heart rate range for your body.

Your resting heart rate can be affected by stress, anxiety, hormones, medication, and your level of physical fitness. If your resting heart rate is beyond the normal range, it may be time to check in with your doctor.

The best time to measure your resting heart rate is when you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed. Find your radial pulse by placing your thumb just below your lateral wrist bone. Once you can feel your pulse start a timer for 60 seconds, and count beats. The number of beats you count in 60 seconds, is your resting heart rate.

Heart Rate Training

When a workout program incorporates heart rate training, it uses beats per minute (BPM) as a guide to hitting certain intensity levels throughout your workout, instead a specific pace or weight.

But your specific intensity for specific heart rate training zones depends on your maximal heart rate (MHR). There are many ways you can determine your MHR, but the easiest way is by using an age-based equation: MHR = (220 – your age). So, the MHR for a 40-year-old would be 180 BPM.

Once you know your MHR, it’s simple to determine your training zones. Multiply your MHR by a percentage range for each zone. For example, to determine your target BPM’s for Zone 1 (50-60%), you would multiply your MHR by .5 and .6 to find the range (90-108 for this example).

ZONE RANGE PERCEIVED INTENSITY
1 50-60% Very Light – used for warmups, cooldowns or recovery.
2 60-70% Light – Endurance exercise, a pace you could keep up for a few hours without too much difficulty.
3 70-80% Moderate – A moderate speed you’ll likely use for the bulk of your training. Exercise becomes noticeably more challenging but still somewhat comfortable and can hold a short conversation.
4 80-90% Performance – Tough training, really pushing the pace and challenging your aerobic system.
5 90-100% Max Effort – used for interval training or all out sprints.

How to Reap the Benefits of Heart Rate Training

If you’re looking to put heart rate training to the test, many of our Sunny products are built with pulse grip sensors that can read your heart rate while you exercise. You can also consider purchasing your own heart rate monitor, which are relatively cheap and accurate.

Heart Rate Isn’t Everything

There are other metrics that can benefit your training regimen too, and of course it’s all dependent on your type of activity and goals.

For example, if your goal is to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, your heart rate can be a helpful gauge for your sessions—specifically tempo runs where the goal is to get in those higher, performance heart rate zones, or on recovery sessions where the goal is to keep your heart rate low. However, your time will also be an important factor in getting you to that goal of a 30-minute or less 5K. This is where time or pace-based workouts may also come in.

Consider your fitness program and how heart rate training may benefit your program and goals specifically, then use the data to your advantage!