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Destroyed legs, set new Heart Rate Recovery personal record!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Last week’s leg workout (the first of my 2012 cut, and the first after three weeks off) had me limping around all week long. This past Sunday my legs were still slightly sore, but yesterday they felt fully recovered–just in time to do it again. 🙂

Despite being in a caloric deficit I’ve been very energetic and eager to train. I attribute this to the quality of the foods I’ve been eating. Eating 100% clean, all-natural foods really makes a noticeable difference when you’re eating below maintenance.

Yesterday I added weight to every exercise and managed the same number of reps as I did during last week’s leg workout. My strength took a bit of a hit from the three weeks off, but it’s coming back quickly!

If you’ve been following my blog at all over the past year or so, you know that I’ve been diligently tracking quite a few stats relative to my cardiovascular health. I include these cardiovascular stats every Sunday as part of my weekly progress report. If you’re interested in learning more about the various cardiovascular measurements I’m taking, what they mean and how to start tracking your own cardio stats, go give my February 14, 2011 blog a read. You’ll need heart rate monitor to take your own measurements (I use and recommend the Timex Ironman).

New Heart Rate Recovery PR - 86!

New Heart Rate Recovery PR - 86!

One of the cardio measurements I take each week is Heart Rate Recovery. Heart Rate Recovery measures how quickly your heart rate recovers 2 minutes after performing strenuous exercise, and it’s an excellent indication of overall cardiovascular health. I usually perform this measurement every Monday during my leg workout. The reason I take this measurement during my leg workout is because I almost always do some form of high-rep, single-leg training (lunges, Bulgarian split squats, etc.) with short rest intervals; taking the Heart Rate Recovery measurement after the final set provides a consistent means of performing the test.

Yesterday after my final set of 4×20 lunges my heart rate was 185 BPM, which is a little over 94% of my maximum heart rate of 196 BPM. As I always do, after the final set I sat down on the floor (OK, I collapsed–lunges freaking hurt) and began to focus on even, deep breathing and slowing my heart rate. After the two minutes ticked off I looked down at the Ironman and was surprised to see that my heart rate had dropped to 99 BPM; that puts my new Heart Rate Recovery at 86 (185-99=86), and destroys my old HR Recovery personal record of 79!

The exciting thing is that I broke this record very early in my cut, and only after a week back in the gym after three weeks off.

Last week I did 3 intense weight training sessions and 4 cardio sessions (a mix of HIIT and LISS). My cardio felt surprisingly strong after three weeks away from training, but I certainly didn’t expect to break a long-standing cardio PR this early into my cut. This bodes well because my cardio training is going to get much, much more intense in the weeks to come.

I’m sort of a stats junkie, and I really love tracking my progress and accomplishments. I’m extremely competitive, and so nothing gives me more pleasure than doing something better than I’ve ever done it before. In fact, my drive to keep improving is one of the major motivational tools in my toolbox.

Competition (even if it’s just with yourself) is very healthy. If you’re not tracking your progress, then you’re missing out on a potentially major source of motivation. It’s not hard or time consuming, so get to it!

John Stone Fitness Comments

8 Responses to “Destroyed legs, set new Heart Rate Recovery personal record!”
  1. John – thanks for the update – heart rate is useful in so many ways. By the way, above you state that your Recovery Heart Rate was 86, beating your previous record of 79. Isn’t it better to have a lower recovery heart rate? Thus, 79bpm would have been better than 86? Keep up the great work, I’ve been following you since your home gym was just a Power Rack (2004 maybe?). Instant shot of motivation every time I stop by. Thanks!

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    • Thanks for visiting the site, and for the kind words!

      No, the higher your Heart Rate Recovery score (not to be confused with actual heart rate) the better. An individual with a larger HR Recovery number is able to recover from strenuous exercise faster than someone with a smaller HR Recovery number. Faster HR recovery indicates better cardiovascular health than slower HR recovery.

      For example, if after performing strenuous exercise your heart rate only drops 10 BPM after two minutes of rest (which would be a HR Recovery score of 10), that’s terrible and a strong indication that you may have some serious heart problems.

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  2. recovery heart rate of 79 is better than 86…When you measure heart rate recovery, you’re tracking the amount of time it takes for your heart rate to return to resting status after exercise. The quicker your heart rate drops back down to its normal status, the more fit you are.

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    • You’re mistaken. Heat Rate Recovery is a simple measure of how many beats per minute your heart rate drops during a set period of time (usually one or two minutes) immediately following strenuous exercise; therefore a larger number indicates a greater drop in heart rate than a smaller number, and is better.

      The below excerpt was taken from a related abstract on the American Heart Association’s web site:

      “Heart rate recovery was defined as the difference in heart rate between peak exercise and 1 minute later; a value <18 beats per minute was considered abnormal."

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