I have been recently diagnosed with asthma. I have always had a hard time to get fit so I try to figure out if regular training has impact on my fitness. I have been running intervals for the last couple of months with a pulse band.

As far as I have understood, a decent metric for if your fitness is improving is to track if your heartrate recovers fast. I'm trying to figure out exactly what data I should compare.

When doing intervals, should I compare each interval to the same in another session, comparing the delta on every first sprint by them selves, every second sprint by themselves etc or are they expected to be more or less the same?

Does it matter what pulse I had at the end of the interval or should they be more or less the same?

  • Voting to keep open, because the actual question (how to measure heart-rate recovery) is on-topic, even if the poster is seemingly intending to use the answer to assist in self-diagnosis of a possible medical condition. Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 7:08
  • I did misrepresent this, I have been recently diagnosed with asthma. I have always had a hard time to get good fitness and try to figure out if persistent training helps. I will update the question.
    – Himmators
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


I'll concentrate on heart-rate measurement.

Normally you would do one test, and try to have conditions as repeatable as possible. So you can run on treadmill with particular speed, for particular time. Then measure max. After that you lie down flat, and after - say - 2, or 5 minutes, you have second measurement. Idea is that, the faster your heart-rate goes back to normal - the better you are trained.

Today we can test heart rate continuously. That is interesting since you can say if your pulse goes down linearly or not, and maybe, over time that can bring some insight.

Using intervals to test is quite tricky. Even assuming that you do it in repeatable way... Note that your body learns how to deal with particular exercise. So using it all the time, and for testing is not a best way. If you feel that it is not a problem for you. Find significant factors. I can share some:

  • change of max hr over exercise. The better you are trained - you should get to max, and keep it, over whole exercise. Opposite is that from high-to-high you see higher hr - that mean - you are not able to regenerate.
  • change of min hr over exercise. Something like above. Question is if you are ready for next high, at the end of low.
  • medium change over high / low. How fast you get into high load, and how fast you are relaxing.
  • finally relation between high / low.

Anyway - I would stick some aggregates. Thing about long run - say half a year - are you going to check each of the exercise? Maybe candle chart can be helpful. There is long time, different charts, with a lot of points. That is why that aggregates. Min/Max + medium low/high - if you would like to use candle chart.

  • Very useful info thanks! I'm doing HIITs, afaik, the idea is that getting a very high pulse and then recovering is an efficient way of cardio+fitness. So you should try to excercise in such a way that you can keep on a intensity for 30x8 secounds. For me, that means recovering until I get down to ~150bps before doing the next interval, regardless of how long that takes. this means some of your metrcis are hard to do. Maybe I should have dedicated, reproducable sessions just for testing.
    – Himmators
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 12:36

Firstly, if you think there's something wrong with your lungs then please see a doctor.

As for measuring heart-rate recovery, you would expect to see improvements on the timeframe of days, so from workout to workout, not within a single workout. A common method of measuring heart-rate recovery is to measure heart-rate at the end of a bout of exercise, rest for one minute, and then measure it again.

In the case of interval training, you would need to determine what constitutes a bout of exercise. If you're doing Tabata intervals, 20 seconds exertion followed by 10 seconds of rest, then you don't have a minute between rounds of exertion, so you would need to consider a bout to be the whole series of rest-exertion cycles, and measure the heart rate drop following the final round of exertion only. Whereas if you are doing longer intervals, say 5 minutes exertion and 5 minutes rest, then you could measure heart rate drop after each period of exertion.

In either case, you should be able to produce multiple measurements per workout. (Let's assume with Tabata intervals that you would do a bout of 8 rest-exertion cycles, rest for several minutes, then repeat the bout multiple additional times.) If your exercise and rest periods are long enough that each one maxes out your heart rate, and then allows it to return to normal, then the measurements should be similar, and you could just average them to get a single value for the whole workout. Or if your exercise and rest periods are shorter, such that your heart rate does not max out in the first bout, and it takes multiple bouts for the cumulative work to max out your heart rate, then you would expect the measurements to differ, and you would need to compare, e.g. the last measurement of a workout with the last measurement of the previous workout.

Finally, if the number of bouts you perform in a workout is greater than the number of measurements that you want to take, then you could just select a specific batch of them to measure, such as first, middle and last.

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