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I watched an episode of "Fight Science" on National Geographic Channel which shows an elite soldier being able to sustain high combat performance in a low oxygen environment. This soldier is tested to have a lower resting heart rate than an average human being.

How does one train to achieve a low heart rate like that of an elite soldier? Does such training enables one to control the heart rate to the extend of feigning death?

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You're asking if you can reduce your heart rate enough so you appear dead? To who, J. Random Stranger? A doctor? An ECG? Nutshell: no. If you're that dead, you're actually dead, because your body needs the oxygen the heart provides. –  Dave Newton Aug 21 '12 at 12:35
    
Here is a BBC article about Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France Winner and Olympic Gold Medalist bbc.co.uk/news/health-18959642 "supplying blood to the muscles during exercise was like trying to fill a bath with containers of water. Most people are trying to fill that bath up with a container the size of a thimble, whereas for highly trained athletes like Wiggins, who have bigger hearts, it is like using a bucket." –  Jaydee Aug 21 '12 at 15:44
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Heart is a muscle. You train your muscles by using them.

To make heart stronger and more efficient (lower BPM), you have to do exercises which significant increas your heart rate - any kind of cardio will do.

BPM of avarge Joe is around 70-75. Athletes usually have BPM around 50-60.

To give you direct answer - low hear rate is achieved with cardio training (HIIT, Tabata, Crossfit, etc.). And no, you can't control your heart rate. It's under control of your autonomic nervous system.

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As StupidOne says, the heart is part of the autonomic system. As you increase your cardiovascular fitness, the resting heart rate drops, because the heart has increased in size (Left Ventricular Hypertrophy), and the circulatory system is more efficient, so the heart doesn't have to work as hard.

There are some guru/yogi/swami types that have been able to drop their heart rates during meditation into very low areas, and highly trained athletes have been recorded as having heart rates in the 20's-30's during sleep, but it's not something you can just do, as in "Snap! I'm dead, see?"

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