Normal heart rates vary from person to person and there are several heart rate zones that we should be conscious of. Knowing your heart rate is important for a number of reasons. Monitoring and controlling your heart rate helps avoid injury from pushing too hard, helps optimize your cardio by allowing you to figure out your ideal workout zone, and helps detect developing health problems. So what should your heart rate be? That depends on your objective and activity, so let’s go through a few different scenarios and questions to better address this question.
What Should Your Pulse Be?
First, before you can calculate target heart rate you need to know your resting heart rate by taking your pulse. It is recommended to check your pulse first thing in the morning before getting out of bed for the most accurate reading. The best places to find your pulse are the carotid and radial arteries. The carotid artery is on the side of your neck and the radial artery is on the palmar surface of your wrist. Examine the artery lightly by using the tip of your index and middle finger. Next, you can use a clock to count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Take the count number and multiply it by four to get your heart rate in one minute.
For an average, less personalized, target heart rate zone based on age you can use our heart rate calculator to quickly determine this range.
The resting heart rate for most adults is between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). More athletic individuals have lower resting heart rates and they may have a resting heart rate between 40-60 bpm or lower.
Heart Rate Zones Chart
Second, have a look at this heart rate zones chart to get an idea of what the zones are and what they mean. The following heart rate zones chart shows the categories that various heart rates fall under. The percentage of maximum heart rate is just that, and to calculate your maximum heart rate then take the number 220 and subtract your age. E.g., a 25 year old has a maximum heart rate of 220 – 25 = 195.
|Zone||Percentage of Maximum Heart Rate||Description|
|Zone 1||50-60%||A very comfortable zone and effort. Recovery, warm-up, and cool-down should come to mind when thinking of zone 1.|
|Zone 2||60-70%||Still a comfortable effort with activity that is borderline warm-up and cool down, but with a bit more pace. This could be a slow, easy run and training in zone 2 improves the ability of your heart to pump blood and improves the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen.|
|Zone 3 – The Aerobic Zone||70-80%||An above average effort where the majority of training takes place. Zone 3 is most effective for overall cardiovascular fitness as well as for increasing overall muscle strength.|
|Zone 4 – The Anaerobic Zone||80-90%||Hard effort. AKA anaerobic threshold, this is the point at which the body is unable to remove lactic acid as quickly as your body produces it. If you try to speak while in this zone you may be able to say short, broken sentences.|
|Zone 5 – Red Line Zone||90-100%||You are pushing it to the limit in this zone. Exercise caution when performing in this zone; ideally only train in this zone if you are in great shape. Even then, only do this for very short periods of time.|
What Should Your Heart Rate Be to Lose Weight?
In order to lose weight you should exercise for longer at a lower intensity level; beginners should aim for a heart rate around 50% of personal maximum heart rate. As you get more experienced and your body and muscles adjust to regular working out then you can aim for a heart rate between 60-70%.
What Should Your Heart Rate Be When Working Out?
Your heart rate will vary depending on how intensely and for how long you are working out. Heart rate during moderately intense activities is typically 50-69% of your maximum heart rate, whereas heart rate during hard physical activity is about 70% to less than 85% of the maximum heart rate.
What Should Your Heart Rate Be While Running?
Again this will depend on what you are trying to achieve. The overall heart rate range for exercising is usually between 50-85% therefore if you are running at a nice, easy pace your heart rate will be on the lower end of the spectrum and if you are sprinting as quickly as you can you will be on the higher end of the spectrum.
Given all this information, the thing to remember is that we are all different. It is OK to be conservative with your exercise routine and if you haven’t worked out in a while then don’t overdue it. Workout in lower heart rate zones and build up as you get more comfortable. A good technique for doing this is for the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lower end of the spectrum (50%) and over time, build up to the higher end (85%).
Click here for an interesting read by Harvard Health Publications on how a high resting heart rate predicts heart risk in women.
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Also, check out our fitness calculators for more key insights about your body.