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Elevated Resting Heart Rate - Now What?

by Robb Beams


What does an elevated resting heart rate mean & what to do if yours is elevated?

What Does an Elevated Resting Heart Rate Represent?
There is a tremendous amount of discussion floating around these days regarding resting heart rate; however, there is little information regarding what an elevated heart rate means to you as a rider and racer.

The first discussion point relevant to elevated heart rate is what causes this to happen. When it comes to the various forms of stress that your body is subjected to on a daily basis, the list is quite long and complex: lack of quality & quantity of food, dehydration, relationships, financial, school, work, quality & quantity of sleep and keeping all of these variables within manageable levels. When you realize that your brain doesn’t have a filing system for each form of stress, but rather one large file to handle and address the needs of each form of stress. Notice that the discussion of riding, racing and cross training hasn’t even been introduced to the stress file. When you train too hard or too long too often, the body has to handle yet another form of stress and the residual effects associated (i.e. fatigue, inflammation, tenderness, etc.).

Daily Symptoms Associated With High Levels Of Stress
Typical symptoms associated with stress include:
  • Decrease in performance (sprint speed, late moto energy, etc.)
  • Increased recovery windows (takes longer for you to recover from your race weekend and hard riding and cross training days)
  • Short tempered, impatient with other people
  • Lack of motivation to ride, train and race
Long Term Effects Of Stress If Symptoms Are Ignored
The concept of Adrenal Fatigue (a.k.a. Epstein Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is applied to individuals that have pushed the body (mentally and physically) too long without adequate rest and nutrition to provide the necessary “tools” to rebuild a body that is resilient to stress.

Four external signs of Adrenal Fatigue:

  1. Inability to sleep through the night (even though you are tired)
  2. Waking up throughout the night with night sweats
  3. Loss of libido
  4. Craving simple sugars

Please note, the body doesn’t rebuild and get stronger unless it has adequate amounts of sleep (to naturally release human growth hormones – HGH) and high quality food (carbohydrates, protein and fat) to rebuild the body from the inside out – literally. The body that you have today is the result of the food and sleep you have provided your body over the last 6 months. It takes 6 months to completely “rebuild” your body and create the ultimate body that you need and want. Think about it this way, to have the body that you want in June, starts in January!

The second discussion point relevant to elevated heart rate is How To Identify An Elevated Heart Rate

Though this sounds odd, many riders and racers misidentify what an elevated heart rate actually is (much less what to do when the assessment is correct).

How to capture you resting heart rate the following two ways:

  1. Empty your bladder and lay back down with a heart rate monitor on for 5 minutes
  2. Empty your bladder in a seated position and take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to establish your pulse for 1 minute

The key to accuracy is being consistent on your methodology & consistency. If you are worried about a margin of error, this margin will be essentially eliminated because your measurement methodology is the same over the course of 4 weeks.

Additional Variables to Maintain:

  1. Maintain a log of your resting heart rate for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  2. Maintain a log of your hours of sleep for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  3. Maintain a food log for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  4. Maintain a hydration log for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Note: If you would like a copy of motoe’s body analysis log spreadsheet to document these numbers, please email me directly.

How Does Food, Hydration And Sleep Log Impact Your Stress Levels

The body is constantly adapting to the load levels associated with training both on and off of the bike (specifically volume & intensity). Here is a breakdown of food, hydration and sleep as it relates to improved health, wellness and ultimately your on track speed:

Food: by consuming raw, real food, you provide your body with the key elements to a stronger and faster body. Through clean eating, you are providing your body the right mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Carbohydrates: provide your body stored energy (in the form of sugar) in the form of glycogen within your liver and muscles
Protein: the building blocks to re-build torn down muscle tissue
Fats: the necessary nutrient for your nervous system and protection of your internal organs

Hydration: by consuming half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (i.e. 160 pound rider needs to consume 80 ounces of cold filtered water on a daily basis to ensure proper daily hydration levels) will provide your body the necessary volume of water to maintain proper levels of hydration. Please keep in mind that the average body has 96 pints of water within it.

Sleep: when you provide your body a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night, it has the opportunity to slip into deep levels of sleep (referred to as REM Pattern 3 – this stands for Rapid Eye Movement) which is the depth of rest that your body has to experience before it will release HGH (Human Growth Hormone) naturally. When HGH is released naturally, the body will become stronger and leaner – the reason why sleep needs to be protected at all costs for maximum recovery and improved speeds on the track.

The third discussion point relevant to elevated heart rate is what to do with you’re riding and cross training if your heart rate is elevated?

If you wake up in the morning and your resting heart rate is elevated, follow these guidelines to help offset the negative effects of stress (of any and all kinds):

  • Morning HR is elevated by 1-2 beats, follow your existing training schedule
  • Morning HR is elevated by 3-5 beats, cut your training volume in half and keep your intensity levels exclusively aerobic (if should be able to talk and/or sing at this intensity level)
  • Morning HR is elevated 6+ beats, go back to bed and focus on clean eating throughout the day. No training of any kind.

Final Thoughts….

Your body provides you with four specific external symptoms, not to mention the daily symptoms. By accurately evaluating your daily morning heart rate, you will have a non-emotional evaluation of how your body is dealing with stress. By focusing on consistent and clean eating along with 8-9 hours of sleep, your body will be more prepared to handle the stressors that you are subjected to on a daily basis and in turn grow stronger and ultimately faster!

About the Author: Coach Robb has been working with riders & racers for the last 22 years and is the founder of the Complete Racing Solutions performance program based in Orlando, Florida. is a premium resource center for motocross, supercross and GNCC riders of all abilities and ages. The website outlines the MotoE Performance Training Systems used with great success by Factory Honda’s Ashley Fiolek, Factory Suzuki’s Ian Trettel, Factory Kawasaki/Pro-Circuit’s Adam Cianciarulo and Factory KTM Off Road Charlie Mullins. Please visit to receive his monthly newsletter and learn more about resources such as: personalized performance training programs, eBooks, how to video series and much more! To discuss your current program or have a new one developed for you; feel free to contact Robb Beams at or 407.701.7586 directly.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Donovan O'Leary July 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    A Heart Rate Monitor is so important for any athlete to train effectively. Great article!

  2. Gravatar
    Wayne V July 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I work for Polar USA and want to say thanks for this article.

  3. Gravatar
    jd805 July 29, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Good article. Maybe should include Karvonen method for determining target HR for training.
    Max heart rate(MHR) - resting heart rate(RHR) = heart rate reserve(HRR)
    (HRR * training%) + RHR = Training target heart rate

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