As a child and teenager, my focus was all too often on how hard I could go and how much I could do during training. It was all about weight, speed, intensity, duration etc.
One thing I realized when growing older (and throughout college education, training etc.) is that I needed to pay more attention to my recovery heart rate. After doing a set, an interval, a workout, see how long it takes for your heart rate to drop to (or close to) normal levels. If it continues to race for minutes, you might need to switch up your training routines or in extreme cases, go see a doctor.
If you heart rate drops pretty quickly, then you know your body is able to recover quicker and it is also acting more efficiently compared to someone’s heart rate who stays higher for a much longer time period. It is a great indicator of your current physical condition. If you recover faster, it enables you to do more repetition, keep your intensity high and outwork an opponent. If your body fails to recover, you will be forced to stop or slow down.
The easiest way to check is to count your heart rate during 15 seconds and multiply this number by 4, right after you finished working out or doing your last exercise and again after 1 or 2 minutes. If you continue to do this over a certain time period, you will see if there are any changes. Remember, every individual has a different level, different maximum heart rates, heart rate zones and recovery time. Compare to your own data over time, not others!
Now how do you improve your recovery time? Easy: by training! If are new to training, you will notice a significant difference quickly. If you have been training for a while and don’t notice any difference anymore, you can switch up your training and focus on different ways of working out. You can focus more on endurance (which plays a huge factor in improving recovery times), intervals, tempo training etc. Do things you are not used of doing to keep your body guessing. That is why cross training is so great! It shocks your body and makes it stronger in every single way. This new and improved body will be able to make more progress in the sport you want get better at.
Next time you are working out, don’t only focus on the workout itself, also measure up your heart rate after some sets and after your workout and take notes. These notes will be helpful down the road! It’s not all about training, but also about recovery, rest, nutrition etc.
By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.