I measure my resting heart rate every morning before turning out of bed. The day after a demanding strength workout I find it has risen as compared with the day before. I had thought it was merely a statistical fluctuation, but now it has happened several times in a row and I think it is not a coincidence. I train once every four days.

I am talking about 3~5 bpm increases, nothing to worry about, but I am curious about it. Is my body "working harder" in order to repair micro-trauma within the muscles or what?

Interestingly, it seems to raise slightly too after a night of bad sleep. And once after I donated blood (that time it took several days before returning to the usual range).

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    I'd do some reading on sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, but I bet that the short version is that you introduced a stress and your body is recovering from that stress. Feb 18, 2015 at 11:16
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    @DaveLiepmann Look up the polyvagal theory. Im sure you'd find it interesting. It relates to health in general, but has it has great applications in training. Feb 18, 2015 at 11:59
  • Why is this question being voted to close; it is a legitimate question that pertains to exercise physiology. Feb 18, 2015 at 20:53
  • @DarkoSarovic Probably because a lot of efforts in this site are done towards avoiding overlapping with medical questions, that could eventually result in people suing SE for having lead them to health problems or something similar. That seems to be a strong concern here.
    – Mephisto
    Feb 18, 2015 at 23:48
  • @Mephisto Everything about exercise has to do with medicine. And it is members like us who are voting to close, and I don't think they are concerned with SE being sued. Maybe the question should be reformulated to be more general. The votes are because this question is "primarily oppinion-based". I couldn't agree less. There is a huge body of research on resting heart rate and its relation to exercise. Feb 19, 2015 at 8:50

1 Answer 1


After a training session you increase the metabolic demand on the body. That is, by breaking down muscles during strength training, you are sending a signal that they have to adapt and get stronger. They do so by increasing anabolism; water goes into the muscles to produce more efficient chemical processes, amino acids follow, waste products are removed. All of those processes are driven by the supply of blood; anytime you have a stress on the body, be it psychological or physical, the body tries to adapt. In order to do that it must increase blood supply.

I run one hour without a break everyday. Am I over training? You might also find my answer to this question intresesting as it pertains to your question.

Also, as Dave says in the comment, one of the reasons is an increased sympathetic drive. That effect is not as long lasting though, but it does have its part. I would urge you to read up on "heart rate variability". There is lots of good research on the topic. Basically, it depends on the ratio between your parasympathetic and sympathetic drives.

During training you increase sympathetic drive; the body goes into fight or flight-mode. During that time it cannot regenerate. That is, the body remains in a catabolic state. And the pulse is higher. The sooner you recuperate your parasympathetic drive, the sooner the body can start regenerating, strength can increase, and the pulse can fall back to pre-training values. One well known way of regaining that ratio is by doing a cool-down. Eating also helps. But from what I've seen in litterature, the best method by far is Cold Water Immersion. There is even research showing that just having your face washed with cold water for a couple of minutes regenerates heart rate variability and thus speeds up recovery.

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