>Most people now get the importance of working in a certain heart rate (HR) percentage as one means of measuring the intensity of your workouts but few still understand that what happens during the rest portion of your training may be of even more importance. Your heart rate recovery numbers are a major indicator of not only your level of cardio fitness, but can also be a great predictor of mortality. While it is much more difficult for those who already are fit to achieve a high heart rate during training(yup the fitter you are the harder it is)those who are not or who have some sort of health issue or condition ie. metabolic syndrome know that getting your heart rate up doesn’t take much. This is often due to such things as excessive weight, dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, blood vessel/artery blockages from a shitty diet and no exercise as well as a cascade of other issues. When someone is already at that point it is often most important to watch the heart rate DURING training (as well as bp if they officially are diagnosed with a heart or pulmonary condition) the way to really track whether or not they are making strides in their health and fitness is to monitor their heart rate recovery. Just as it is often better to pay attention to your diastolic bp readings as this is your heart working at rest, your heart rate recovery will tell you how efficient you are becoming at recovering which means a stronger, healthier heart. If your HRR number is very low this means (without getting into vagal reactivation, ST-T segments and QRS complexes ;p)that you are either deconditioned (duh) or that you may have or are on your way to having some sort of cardiovascular disease/condition. In terms of athletes, your heart rate reserve is a great bit of info as it gives you a method of tracking your progress. Normal heart rate recovery when there is as a decrease in your pulse of 15 to 25 beats per minute after a typical max(or submax) VO2 workload. Abnormal heart rate recovery is usually defined as a decrease of 12 or fewer beats per minute post exercise within 60 secs. If your recovery heart rate falls in the abnormal category, it could simply mean that you are out of shape and deconditioned , or it could be a sign of a more serious heart or neural condition.if your recovery is poor it also means that your system is most likely not efficient on other levels such as recycling and disposing of harmful byproducts of oxidization and metabolism. To calculate this:
Heart Rate Recovery = Heart rate peak – Heart rate 60 secs later
So to find your HR peak on your own you could simply use the basic equation 220-age+resting HR than multiply that by .9 OR .95 for a submax.
I never train without a heart rate monitor, I don’t think I ever really have lol. Rate of perceived exertion or RPE is great and all for certain needs but that is so subjective and your mind will often take over before your physiology will, if that makes sense ;p BTW if you are one of those competitive types, the typical elite athlete has a heart rate recovery of 40-50 beats.