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What Is Resting Heart Rate And Why Is It Important For Combat Athletes?

What Is Resting Heart Rate And Why Is It Important For Combat Athletes?

Photo by Daria Kochetkova Photography. IG: Tebezvonu.

Guest post by Evolve MMA, Asia’s premier championship brand for martial arts. It has the most number of World Champions on the planet. Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia by CNN, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, Evolve MMA is the top rated BJJ gym in Singapore.

Cardiovascular health is an extremely important topic because the heart is one of your body’s essential organs. Everything you do be it training, eating, reading; everything requires the heart to pump blood. 

The resting heart rate is an important factor to consider for all athletes. Regardless of your chosen sport, be it combat sports or team sports, an aerobic base is always required to perform well. Heart rate training stretches the heart, allowing it to pump more blood with each stroke. This allows athletes to increase their output while using the same amount of energy. 

It is often said that fatigue makes a coward out of any man, and a more efficient heart fends off that fatigue for a longer duration. When training martial arts such as kickboxing and boxing, where cardio brings about a huge advantage, many of the fights are won and lost on one or both opponents lacking the stamina to last the fight or defend the knockout blow.

Today, Evolve Daily will explain what is resting heart rate is and why is it important. 

 

What Is Resting Heart Rate?

The most basic definition of resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. A normal resting heart for adults ranges between 60 to 100 beats per minute. In general, having a lower resting heart rate indicates more efficient heart function. Many professional athletes, especially MMA fighters, are known to have very low resting heart rates, around 30 to 40 beats per minute.

It is recommended to check in the morning, about 15 minutes after you wake up, before drinking coffee because stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, or prescribed medications influence the resting heart rate. To measure your resting heart rate, set a timer for 30 seconds and count the number of heartbeats by checking your pulse.

It is best to use your index and middle finger to take your pulse, as your thumb has an internal pulse that will throw off your count. You can use the radial artery, located on the underside of the wrist, or the carotid artery, located just under your jawline and ear. 

Check your heart rate over some time, be it over a week or a month to get the most accurate sense of your true resting heart rate. It is important to check your resting heart rate at the same time each day to avoid varied readings which can affect the overall consistency of your cardiovascular track record. 

 

Why Is Resting Heart Rate Important?

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Your resting heart rate is a strong indicator of your general health and more specifically, heart function. Many underlying medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, can be diagnosed and treated early by tracking and noticing a sudden change or shift in resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is also one of the strongest indicators for diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, and even nonvascular diseases. 

The lower your resting heart rate is, the more efficient your heart is at pumping blood. This translates to increased physical performances, regardless of the type of sport. One of the best ways to lower your resting heart rate is by simply walking at a brisk pace for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. A study done at the Harvard School For Public Health shows that women, in particular, benefit greatly from this daily regimen of walking thirty minutes. Of the thirteen thousand women evaluated in the study, those who maintained a regimen of brisk walking for at least thirty minutes a day had three times the greater chance to stave off diseases. 

Beyond protection from physical illness, maintaining a healthy resting heart rate throughout your life can decrease the chances of mental ailments such as Parkinson’s or age-related dementia. 

 

Training A Lower Resting Heart Rate

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If your resting heart rate is above average, the good news is that you can do specific exercises to lower it. It is important to start slow and consistently without overexerting yourself. A good place to start for beginners is by taking brisk walks, as mentioned above. Walking can be substituted for any physical activity that is similar in intensity, like cycling or swimming. Once your body is accustomed to this, you progress onto doing light cardio in your lower heart rate zones. 

Stay under the anaerobic threshold, otherwise, you will be training a different energy system in your body altogether. An easy way to tell if you are training your aerobic system is if you can maintain a conversation while exercising. To stay under the anaerobic threshold, keep your pace so that you can still say short phrases and sentences. If you need to stop talking to breathe, you have likely switched to using your anaerobic system. 

Alternatively, you can also use high-intensity interval training or HIIT in short, to increase cardiovascular health and lower your resting heart rate. This involves performing exercises in intervals, where you increase the intensity, followed by a period of active rest. If this is your first time utilizing HIIT in your training, start with a work:rest ratio of 1:3. An example would be having a high-intensity interval of fifteen seconds, followed by a forty-five-second period of active rest. Stick to this ratio for a full month, then progress to work to an active rest ratio of 1:2, if you feel that you need more of a challenge. 

 

Final Thoughts

We hope this article has helped you understand more about what resting heart rate is and why is it important. By slowly training your heart, you’re already on your way to becoming a healthier and fitter you even during this unprecedented period. Always remember to start slow and not overexert yourself because patience is the key to improving in all aspects of your life, even in improving your health!