Skip navigation
Community: Exchange advice in the forums and read running commentary Resources: Personal running log, calculators, links and other tools for runners News: Running news from around the world Training: Articles and advice about fitness, race training and injury prevention Races/Results: Find upcoming races and past results Home: The Cool Running homepage
Cool Running homepage  Search Cool Running Community

3486 Views 15 Replies Latest reply: Jul 13, 2011 6:34 AM by Marykb 1 2 Previous Next
Marykb Legend 1,347 posts since
Jan 16, 2008
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 9, 2011 9:03 AM

Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

This is a subject I never gave a lot of thought to until yesterday.  Now I am completely confused and don't know what to make of this.

 

I decided to take an online fitness test, mainly so I can gauge my strength training progress.  I wasn't even worried about my cardio fitness but it was part of the test so I did the 3 Minute Step Test.  So first of all, I scored Excellent on all the strength tests - push ups, sit ups, squats, etc. - for my age.  I did at least 10 more reps than required for Excellent in every category.  Wow, I was pleased with that.  But then the cardio test, the one I wasn't worried about at all?  I scored VERY POOR!  Yes, I scored the LOWEST POSSIBLE SCORE!  In other words a sedentary, obese smoker couldn't do any worse than I did!!!

 

Yes, me, a runner, who has been running for years. Me, who runs several day a week in the heat, and on hills.  Me, who runs races and places in the middle of my age group (I'm not fast, but not by any means the slowest either).  Me, who runs comfortably and easily without ever gasping for breath - except maybe right after a very steep hill, although I recovery quickly.  Me, who scores Above Average on other tests like how fast I can run 1.5 miles or the Cooper 12 minute run test.

 

I am very confused by this and don't understand it at all.  Here is how it went down:  You step up on a 12" step for three minutes.  You IMMEDIATELY take your HR for one minute and the chart tells you your fitness level (a very standard test.)  I stepped up and down on the 12" step for three minutes.  Easy.  Not difficult, not out of breath.  I immediately took my HR - 132.  Looked at the chart and saw my result was VERY POOR.  It seems to indicate that my heart is in bad condition and I could die while running at any time.  WHAT THE HECK????

 

When I run I feel fine.  When I'm finished running, I recovery quickly - within a minute or two - and I feel fine.   Yesterday, I thought I was in good shape.   Today, I feel like a worthless slob.  Not only that, I'm afraid to ever run again because if I am such poor condition, I may drop dead!

 

Has anyone else taken the 3 Minute Step Test?  Can you explain my results?





  • Angelique Simpson Pro 92 posts since
    Mar 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jun 9, 2011 9:46 AM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    This seems odd to me, 132 should not indicate a poor rating, that is a very low heart rate for doing physical activity and should indicate you are healthy! Is there a web link for this 3 minute step test? I'd like to try it and see what it says for me!

     

     

    Edit:

     

    Ok so I just did a little research on the test, should have done that first before I replied. Did you actually count each beat for the full minute? It's interesting this test, they are trying to gauge how quickly your heart rate drops during a one minute recovery, but even still after 1 minute is it really possible for your heart rate to drop back down to a resting heart rate? I suppose it's all in how high the rate goes up during the 3 minutes? It's an interesting test, and I understand what they are doing, but I don't think that is the only way to test your fitness. I would be curious to see something where it compares max heart rate to 3 minute step exercise. I'll have to give this a shot and see what it tells me, I have a feeling mine might be similar which would also indicate poor fitness, but there's no way I would categorize myself in that way.





    ~Angelique


    ------------------------------------------

    http://acupofrunning.blogspot.com/

    Race History
    5K - Apr 2009: 39:00
    5K - Jun 2009: 36:55
    5K - Sep 2009: 34:06
    10K - Oct 2009: 1:13:45
    5K - Nov 2009: 34:23
    5K - Feb 2010: 32:28
    Half Marathon - Apr 2010: 2:39:06
    5K - May 2010: 29:49
    10K - Jun 2010: 1:01:48

    5K - Aug 2010: 27:57

    Half Marathon - Oct 2010: 2:12:18

    10K - Nov 2010: 52:44 (PR)

    5K - Feb 2011: 23:45

    Half Marathon - Apr 2011: 1:49:18

    Marathon - May 2011: 3:56:05

    Half Marathon - Oct 2011: 1:49:14 (PR)

    5K - Nov 2011: 22:20 (PR)

    Marathon - Dec 2011: 3:41:42 (PR)

  • BOSNPM We're Not Worthy 2,482 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jun 9, 2011 11:02 AM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    I have never done that test and don't know anything about it, but do alot of active recovery running and it is a great way to tell your fitness.  You should be able to tell how fit you are by how fast you recovery after one of those Atlanta Hills!!!!   I wonder if because you did not get over 134 that cause the problem, 134 is fairly low that is below 70% for me, I would think that the test wanted you to get higher??????  We often run repeats at 85-90% and strive to get our HR down in the 70% range in a min with active running.  I sure you know this the faster it comes down the fitter you are.

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,431 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jun 9, 2011 1:11 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    Which test did you use?  I found about nine of them, all slightly different.  Most of them then used your heart rate in a formula to estimate VO2max.

     

    Edit:  Some of the tests tell you to stand up to take your pulse, some to sit down.  Most say to count the number of beats over 1 minute.  I just found another that puts 132 (women) in the "Fair" category.

     

    Len





    Len

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,431 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jun 9, 2011 5:20 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    Did you do the step-test last?  When you did it relative to the other tests may have had an effect on the results.  Also, that one tells you to remain standing while you take your pulse.  I don't know if that would make it better or worse.  I'll try it if I can find a 12" step - not something I keep handy.

     

    Len





    Len

  • 64spokes Pro 60 posts since
    Apr 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jun 9, 2011 10:24 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    I'll try it later tonight and edit this with a result.  But something I see right off the bat is they don't tell you how fast to step.  I would think you could get a huge range of numbers depending on what kind of pace you maintain.  The Harvard Step Test looks to me like it would be more accurate http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/step-harvard.htm

     

    It does say to not concentrate on the socre itself, but how you improve.  I think this kind of rough test is better at guaging how much your fitnes is increasing, and not so good at comparing yourself to the general population.  I think the fact that you can run for an hour says a LOT more than your heart rate after 3 min of exercise.

     

    ok, I'm 45 and got 95- BUT I think this test in particular is only good for tracking personal progress, and not overall fitness.  And only if you use the same step rate each time.  I'd suggest trying to slow down your step rate, and see how it affects the score.  Or try either the Havard or Queen's College for what I suspect would be a more accurate score. I'll try one of them later using a metranome app on my phone.

     

    Another thing they mention that is a good point is that your weight.  These tests will negatvily bias heavier people more than, say, a treadmill or stationary bike test.

     

    The bottom line is, you know you're fit.  All this is really good for is tracking how your fitness changes.

     

    Message was edited by: 64spokes

  • Angelique Simpson Pro 92 posts since
    Mar 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jun 10, 2011 6:25 AM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    I went all over my house, inside and out and could not find a 12 inch step so I could try this. Those of you that were able to do it, did you have an actual step bench or where did you find the right height to be able to do this test? I have a lot of steps in and out of my house and none of them are 12 inches, I'm surprised they would make a test like this for a height that is not common. I was hoping to find some 6 inch steps and do two at a time, but that didn't work either.





    ~Angelique


    ------------------------------------------

    http://acupofrunning.blogspot.com/

    Race History
    5K - Apr 2009: 39:00
    5K - Jun 2009: 36:55
    5K - Sep 2009: 34:06
    10K - Oct 2009: 1:13:45
    5K - Nov 2009: 34:23
    5K - Feb 2010: 32:28
    Half Marathon - Apr 2010: 2:39:06
    5K - May 2010: 29:49
    10K - Jun 2010: 1:01:48

    5K - Aug 2010: 27:57

    Half Marathon - Oct 2010: 2:12:18

    10K - Nov 2010: 52:44 (PR)

    5K - Feb 2011: 23:45

    Half Marathon - Apr 2011: 1:49:18

    Marathon - May 2011: 3:56:05

    Half Marathon - Oct 2011: 1:49:14 (PR)

    5K - Nov 2011: 22:20 (PR)

    Marathon - Dec 2011: 3:41:42 (PR)

  • 64spokes Pro 60 posts since
    Apr 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Jun 10, 2011 10:08 AM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    Sorry Mary, I missed that earlier where you mentioned the metranome.  My understanding is that V02max potential is mostly genetic.  So if you're out of shape, you can increase it to your potential, but after that, you can train as hard as you want and it won't do much for your numbers.  The "Marathon Challenge" episode of PBS's Nova talks about this, as they test the participetns prior to starting the training program.  If you've never seen, it, look for it in your library.  I guess what I'm saying is that you don't have the genetics to win a marathon, and even at 'good' neither do I.

     

    I used to be a bike racer, and quickly learned that no amount of training could make up for the luck of birth.

     

    Angelique, I used an Ikea step stool we have in the bathroom for my son to reach the sink.  It's 12" and nice and stable so it worked well.  But I coulnd't find anything higher to try the other tests.

  • 64spokes Pro 60 posts since
    Apr 24, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Jul 10, 2011 2:27 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    Look at it this way, it's kind of like taking a 10 question quiz in a magazine at the checkout counter to find out your IQ.  Not only is it a very poor aproximation of your IQ, but your IQ really doesn't have anything useful to say about you other than how well you do on IQ tests.  If this test were really all that good, they'd be using it rather than real VO2max tests in the lab.  It's good because it's easy, and that's about it.  There are so many variables it's not taking into account: height, weight, normal pulse range (both resting and max)...  and you mentioned endurance.  This test doesn't say ANYTHING about endurance.

     

    Like I think I said before, it might be good as an individual's guage of improvement, but not for comparing to someone else.

     

    Marykb wrote:

     

     

    Sorry, I just can't seem to get over this.  I even hesitate now, when I post on newbies threads, to give any advice because I feel like ranking so low on the fitness test I am not qualified to advise anyone else.

     

     

    PLEASE! please please keep answering!  There's a huge range of people that call themselves runners, and come here to give and ask for advice.  The advice from an olympic coach on how to shave 1 min off a 2:10 marathon is going to be useless to someone worried about finishing their first 5K.  What counts isn't some number on some test, but how useful your advice is.  Heck, I've never run more than 10mi, but I've answered questions from people about marathons, because I think I have a perspective to offer.

     

    Instead of worrying about a test, consider how you feel after a run :-)  THAT'S what's important!

  • RobinfromMaine Pro 162 posts since
    Dec 6, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Jul 11, 2011 3:49 PM (in response to Marykb)
    Re: Confused and bewildered about Recovery Heart Rate!

    Hey, Mary

     

    You know that these test results are garbage, so -- there's something wrong with the test!  My internet connection is still dial-up, so I haven't been eager to track down the details, but if it's giving you this kind of results it's an invalid test.

     

    My suspicion is that the weak point is judging fitness by heartbeat in the first place. Maximal heart beats can be predicted by age and gender, and target heart rates are often recommended, but they are also known not to apply to everyone.

     

    Keep running,

     

    Pay no attention to the 12 inch step behind the curtain.

     

    Robin

1 2 Previous Next

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...