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A few years ago when training for a duathlon at school (swim, run) we had to train with heart rate monitors on to test what we could run at and how quickly we could drop it back down to a resting heart rate. I never really bothered to ask the question until now.

While sprinting I was able to get to 229 BPM which at the time I thought was impossible because max was 220, upon researching a bit more it is possible to push harder and than 220, as it's only used as a standard measurement. I was able to recover in under 5mins down to a resting heart rate of 33 BPM.

Height: 175cm Weight: 60kg Age: 17

Always been a thin person but highly fit, I played water polo for school and club, rugby and touch everytime the seaons would roll around.

I guess what I'm asking is what does having a low heart rate and being able to push to a high heart rate when exercising mean? What do low resting HRs and high max HRs tell about a person in general.

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Just as a note: 220-age as a "max" heart rate is one of the worst myths in exercise science. It was made up after an observation of less than 10 participants. –  JohnP Jan 29 '13 at 21:18

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

First, a bit about physiology. Just like some people have big feet and some people have small feet, some people have big hearts and some people have small hearts. Those that have smaller hearts have higher heart rates in general; their resting rates won't be as low and their maximum rates may be higher. That's just natural variability. It's also generally true that, as you get older, your maximum HR will decrease.

So, resting HR and maximum aren't very useful to compare between people. Resting HR can be a useful thing to track over time as a reasonable indication of your current fitness state; as you train your heart's stroke volume increases and therefore your resting HR goes down.

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