Assimilate your Workouts with Orthostatic Heart Rate

29th March 2019
Do you know what orthostatic heart rate is? It's a piece of information that can help athletes balance their efforts in a different way.

There are several different techniques that allow us to train better, beyond what we may do in our gym workouts. When we assimilate our workouts using orthostatic heart rate, we’ll know our minimum heart rate (at rest) and maximum (when exercising). Learn how to assimilate your workouts with orthostatic heart rate.

Orthostatic heart rate at rest

As your starting point, you need to find out what your heart rate is when you are resting and relaxed. For example, at home, when you are on the couch watching television or taking a nap.

Of course, athletes need to rest and have leisure time, even professional athletes. By knowing what your resting heart rate is, you’ll have the information you need to know if something is not going too well.

In other words, it’ll serve as a guide to determine if your heart is being overexerted during training. Therefore, you’ll know if it’s beating more than usual.

If you workout and your heart is not “relaxed” when you start, you’ll probably feel tired, out of breath or unable to perform.

To find out what your resting heart rate is, you must check your pulse in the morning as soon as you wake up. Later, repeat this during the day at moments when you are relaxed. For example, when you arrive home from work. Write down the results for one week and calculate the average. That’s your base!

woman's hand taking blood pressure

The orthostatic heart rate test

In order to protect your health as an athlete, you should undergo several medical tests. Additionally, you can take several “homemade” test that can be extremely useful.

If your heart rate is too high you may be too stressed, under pressure, not sleeping well, or you’re pushing yourself too hard. To worsen matters, this can lead to a vicious circle, which you can’t get out of.

This is how it works: if you’re under more pressure, you’ll push yourself harder and your heart rate will be higher. As you find yourself unable to perform at your highest level, you’ll demand more from your muscles and your whole body will object this demand. It seems extreme but it happens far more frequently than you could imagine.

Measuring orthostatic heart rate

In order to measure your orthostatic heart rate, you’ll need basic accessories: a stopwatch and a heart rate monitor (you can replace the monitor manually by counting your heartbeat). This is a very simple task. This is how it’s done:

  • Lay back on the bed or couch for 15 minutes. Try not to fall asleep or check you smartphone, stay still. You need to reach a “zen” state of relaxation. Take the time to meditate for a while!
  • Measure your heart rate (beats per minute). This result is known as R1.
  • Let a few minutes pass and measure your heart rate again for 60 seconds. This result is known as R2.
  • Subtract R2 – R1 and you will obtain your orthostatic heart rate.

We recommend taking this test for several days each week to obtain a more reliable result.

heart rate monitor
A device may help us know our heart rate.

Test results

If the difference between R2 and R1 is greater than 15 to 20 beats, it means you haven’t fully recovered from your workout. You may also be under stressful conditions. In this case, we suggest you take the day off and rest, do not workout. However, if you decide to work out, do it moderately with a walk in the park for example.

Besides knowing if you need to rest or not, the test result helps you to determine if your body is assimilating the workout. If every time you exercise, you need two to three days to reduce the difference between R2 and R1, your workouts may be too intense.

Therefore, ideally  after a complete training session, you should rest for 24 hours before working out again. This is why an orthostatic heart rate test is very useful. Besides body pains, always take into consideration the information that your heart provides.