Tracking your resting heart rate is a good way to prevent burnout and is a great guide to determining what type of workout is appropriate on any given day. Much like weighing yourself daily, you can use fluctuations in your resting heart rate to determine when you are overtraining or coming down with an illness. It is a good barometer for what your overall fitness is through each season, as well. Here are some tips to easily and accurately check your resting heart rate:

  • Check your heart rate first thing in the morning. Check your pulse before you even get out of bed. Ideally, you should not spend any more effort after first waking up than reaching over to your nightstand for a watch.
  • Keep a watch or heart rate monitor next to your bed at night.
  • Set your watch to be ready to for a 1 minute and 15 second count down. When I check my pulse, I set my watch for 1:15. When I wake up, I grab the watch, start it, and then find my pulse and start counting. When the watch reaches 1 minute to go, I start over with my counting, close my eyes, and then stop when the watch beeps at me.

Using a watch is the easiest way to do it. You can also keep a heart rate monitor handy and just hold it against your chest when you first wake up.

As you become more fit, your resting heart rate should go down from week to week and month to month. Eventually, you will reach a plateau. Much like monitoring your weight, a sudden jump in resting heart rate from one day to the next could mean that your body is still recovering from the day before’s workout. It could also mean that your body is fighting off a cold. Monitoring your heart rate will give you some warning signs so that you can fend off any illnesses or take rest when necessary.

If you do not like checking your pulse first thing in the morning, or just keep forgetting, you can also check your resting heart rate throughout the day. Make sure that you have been sitting and relaxing for at least 5 or 6 minutes before you check it. While this can give you a quick glance, I much prefer having a control on any sort of thing like this that I track which is why I do it first thing in the morning.