Heart Rate Data 101
It seems everybody has a watch or gizmo that does heart rate measuring these days - Apple Watch, MyZone, Whoop, Suunto, Garmin, Polar, FitBit, and even phone apps. Here is a quick breakdown on the numbers and what to look for:
Resting Heart Rate:
Your lowest heart rate, typically at night or after just waking up. The lower this number, the more fit you are. A good target to shoot for is 60 beats per minute (bpm). Super fit individuals can see numbers as low as 40 bpm. High resting heart rates can be an indicator of sickness (not just having a cold, but bigger cardiovascular issues).
^ My resting heart rate last night was 43. You can dig even deeper into resting heart rates to see how recovered your body is. If I know my average resting heart rate is 45, if it is 43, I'm recovered and ready for a hard workout. If it is 48, my body is still recovering and I would benefit from a light workout or rest day.
Max Heart Rate:
A common formula to find your max heart rate is 220 - Age. I am 33, so 220 - 33 = 187. There are a bunch of other formulas out there that can be more complicated, but they all end up in that general vicinity. If you do a super hard workout (usually short and intense) you would look to see your heart rate get near this number.
Heart Rate Zones:
You can also gauge your intensity by your heart rate. They are commonly put into zones. Each device company tends to put out their own guidelines, but this is a general framework:
Zone 5 - 100% of Max Heart Rate
Zone 4 - 90 to 100% of Max Heart Rate
Zone 3 - 80 to 90% of Max Heart Rate
Zone 2 - 70 to 80% of Max Heart Rate
Zone 1 - 60 to 70% of Max Heart Rate
The lower the Zone, the longer you can maintain it. For example, in terms of running:
Zone 1 = Walking
Zone 2 = Casual jog
Zone 3 = Long run
Zone 4 = Working hard. Breathing heavy.
Zone 5 = Sprint
Here is an example of my last long run. About 13 miles long and 2 hours in duration. I spent most of the run in zones 2 and 3. The 4 minutes I was in zone 4 were probably hills.
With an average rate of 158, that puts me at about 84%, squarely into Zone 3 (long run).
Below is data from my MyZone during a CrossFit wod.
Gray/Blue = Warmup / Cooldown
Green/Yellow = Looks like an interval wod! Intensity getting high in that yellow!
Heart rate data can be useful if you know what to look for. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in using a heart rate monitor at CrossFit, we have MyZone straps for sale, just ask a Coach to hook you up!