Resting Heart Rate (RHR) – How important can it be?
Sport Scientists, physiologists, fitness coaches, strength and conditioning professionals are all employed to try and assess and improve athlete’s physical components and overall performance. However, one simple daily action carried out by the athlete can roughly estimate and monitor their fitness, recovery, exercise adaptations and potential future chronic injury – Measuring the Resting Heart Rate (RHR) can give a strong indication of the aforementioned physiological activities.
The RHR is calculated as the number of times a heart contracts in one minute while at complete rest. The stronger the heart, the more blood it can pump during each contraction, and the less frequently it needs to beat to get adequate blood flow (circulation) and oxygen to the body tissues.
A well trained athlete can have a very low resting heart rate and pump more blood than an unconditioned individual.
For example, the RHR of a fit male athlete can be anywhere between 49 and 56 bpm on average, whereas the RHR for a female would be slightly higher. This is due to the heart getting bigger and stronger. It’s important to remember that RHR is best measured having sat down for over 20 minutes or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed! Even getting up and walking downstairs elevates heart rate.
Looking closer at how this can affect athletes and players, we can see that RHR is a fantastic tool for estimating general fitness. The lower the RHR, the more fit the individual is. From this, athletes can aim to lower their RHR over time, thereby improving their fitness. For example, in 1996, cyclist Miguel Indurain recorded a resting RHR of 28bpm. He could then increase his heart rate to 190bpm, and reduce it to 60bpm on the decent down the hill. For those up and coming athletes, RHR is also a good predictor of “overtraining syndrome”, how and if the heart and body is recovering from a large volume of training over a period of time.
Looking at RHR from a health point of view, it’s quite clear it can provide vital information, such as energy levels, metabolic efficiency and risk of heart attack to name but a few. So with all this important information RHR can give us, what can actually influence RHR itself? It’s commonly known that sleep, hydration, regular exercise, long deep breathing, stress levels are all examples of what can directly affect RHR – all vital components of athlete and daily lifestyle.
So whether looking at RHR as an athlete or a health professional, we can see that it provides so much valuable information to a variety of people. In essence, just one simple action in the morning can tell you all you need to know about your physical fitness or health!
Metrifit is an athlete monitoring system that gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches and athletes in a simple but effective manner with intelligent visualization helping coaches and athletes to act on that data. Why not have a look at our Ready to Perform product and gain insight on the physical and mental state of your athletes through our daily wellbeing questionnaire? To find out more visit our Metrifit Product Overview page or get in touch for a free demo.
Athletic Development Coach, MSc ASCC
Millfield School, UK
Head Coach, LMU Lions, Loyola Marymount University
Strength and Conditioning Coach at DCU Sport and with Dublin Minor GAA
NISUS Fitness, S&C Coach Clare Senior Hurling, Horse Sport Ireland and Limerick Senior Hurling
Lincoln University Athletic Performance Manager
Sports Scientist, Kildare Football, PhD Sports Science Researcher
Dr. Dale Richardson
CEO Achieve Total Performance Pty Ltd
"When COVID altered college athletics as we knew it, Metrifit came to the rescue. This intuitive athlete monitoring, health and well-being system provides the athlete, coach, and sports medicine staff a way to monitor and balance the physical, emotional, health and well-being of our athlete’s. Metrifit provided that calm in the middle of the perfect storm for our entire athletic department for the future. Thank you to the entire Metrifit family for assisting our department with a seamless process."
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