How To Take Your Pulse
Why learn about your pulse? Your heart rate (or pulse) is the key to training properly. You must learn how to take your pulse so you can adjust your exercise intensity to stay within your THR range.
Target Heart Rate
Your THR refers to a heart beat rate of 60-85% of your heart rate reserve. Memorize your minimal and maximal THR range! Ideally you should work toward the middle of the THR range depending on your fitness level. Refer to page 2 on intensity.
To obtain aerobic benefits, it is important that you exercise to keep your heart rate in this range. If you exceed your THR during exercise, you are no longer obtaining aerobic benefits! This is important to understand. "More is not better" in this instance.
Where To Find Your Pulse
There are two pulse points you may use to count your heart beats. Use whichever is easier for you to find:
How To Feel And Count Your Pulse
Rest your index and middle finger gently over the pulse point. Feel for the pulse beats. If you cannot find your pulse, adjust your position slightly and try again.
When you have found your pulse, start counting the first beat with "zero" and continue counting the number of beats over a six-second period. Add a zero to that number (i.e., multiply it by 10), and that will be your pulse rate. For example, if over six seconds you count 12 beats, that means your heart rate was 120 beats per minute. When you get better at counting, you will learn to recognize when you are between beats. For example, between 12 and 13 beats would mean a pulse rate of 125 beats per minute.
When To Take Your Pulse
How to Calculate Your THR
To calculate your THR range, use the percentage guidelines on the Developing a Training Program page for your individual fitness level. Calculate an upper and lower percentage to find your range.
Target Heart Rate Ranges
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This information courtesy of Sean A. Spangler, MD, Cardiologist, Providence Spokane Cardiology