Balancing your intensity with moderate and vigorous exercises is a great way to get the most out of your workout. But how can you be sure that you’re working hard or just hardly working?
A simple way to find out if you’re doing too much or not enough is to monitor your heart rate (or pulse). Whether you’re getting active to improve fitness, lose weight, or compete in your first marathon, knowing your target heart rate can help you reach your goals.
How do you figure out your target heart rate? First step is to find out your resting heart rate. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends checking your heart rate early in the morning, before getting out of bed.
To take your pulse, place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the artery in your wrist and lightly press down. Count the beats for a full 60 seconds or for 30 seconds and multiply that number by 2.
Quick tip: To make sure you’re in the right spot, place your two fingers at the base of the thumb, slide those fingers down the wrist, stopping once you’ve passed the wrist bone. Do not press down too hard. If you do, you’ll likely be counting the beats in your fingertips instead of your artery.
You can also use a device, such as a Smartwatch or fitness tracker, to learn your heart rate while resting and to track your heart rate during physical activity.
According to the AHA, the normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm. To find out your target heart rate, first calculate your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is your age subtracted from 220.
The AHA and CDC recommends a target heart rate of 50-70% of your maximum heart rate for moderate intense activities and 70-85% for vigorous activities.
If you’re a beginner, aim for the lower end of your target heart rate zone. Build-up gradually and slowly. Eventually, you’ll be able to reach up to 85% of your target heart rate zone.