low max heart rate?

I am a 26 year old male, weigh 139 lbs. Started running frequently about 8 months ago.

Although I never had my max heart rate tested, I wore my HR monitor for the first time during a 5 mile race this week, which I ran at the hardest steady pace I could maintain - I know I could not go faster because I was unable to put in a final kick over the last 200m and got overtaken. Anyway, my heart rate did not go over 162 during the whole race.

As well as that, last week I did some 800m repeats at fairly hard intensity and my HR did not go above the 150s.

Does this seem a bit low for a 26yr old? I read that people with low max HR for their age might have heart problems/ problems with nervous connections between the brain and heart and could even be at risk from sudden death!!


  • There can be a pretty large variation from person to person re. HR. Fitness plays a part as does age, lifestyle etc... But HR will naturally vary from person to person even without these factors. Your maximum HR when exercising (although it is recommended not to get too close to this) is 194 (220-your age) so 162 is on the way to that but a better judge of how high/low your HR is will be to check your resting HR. may be better to do this by taking your own pulse rather than a device that also may be faulty! Anywhere between 60 and 80 is normal, but a HR in the 50s is usually nothing to worry about. If your resting HR is very low then no harm in seeing your GP.
  • my resting HR is in the 40s

  • I think my HR monitor works OK because I wore it on the stationary bike at the gym and the readings on the bike's HR monitor and my monitor were matching throughout the workout

  • I'm 40 now, but as far back as I can remember (at least 10 years), my max heart rate has been about 160.  I did get it up to 164 once on a cardio treadmill test but that was exceptional and never to be repeated.  My resting heart rate (first thing in the morning or whilst meditating etc.) is 43.  Typically when I set off running it's about 55.  It's been like this for the last 10 years - not really changed much.

    I worried for a bit but I don't now.  It is what it is.  Whenever there is a range, somebody has to be at the top end, and somebody at the low end.  I'm faster and fitter than pretty much all my mates and hold my own at the club with whom I run.  I can do a half marathon in under 90 minutes so I figure it's all OK under the covers.

  • well that explains your low HR when exercising,  A HR in the 40s is low but as Elstead runner says that does not mean it is something to worry about.  a GP appointment if your concerned will take no time at all.  Ive known a good number of people of varying fitness levels who have a resting HR similar to yourself and they have had no issues at all.

  • I remember Bjorn Borg having a resting heart rate in the mid 30's and everybody was admiring of how fit he was.  No mention of sudden keeling over for him!

  • My max heart rate was 168 when I was fit and racing.  I did lab tests at Roehampton which confirmed that; my VO2 max was 70 at that time.   It's just a physiological quirk.  The rates derived purely on our age are just based on averages.  I wouldn't worry about it.

  • There's a bit of misinformation going on here.  Max HR is what it is; if you're getting it up to 162 in a race on what felt like max effort you were probably within a few beats, or it could even be a bit over 170.  (n.b. Whether you're doing a max HR test or running a race, can you ever say you were running at max?  Really?  What if someone was chasing you with an axe?... image )  Age-related formulas are very rough approximations to the average, but then we're not all 5' 9" either.  As for resting HR, it can be lowered by getting fitter, since a stronger heart doesn't need to beat as many times to deliver the same amount of blood to the muscles, but across a range of individuals it doesn't follow that a resting HR of 40 means you're necessarily fitter than someone with a resting HR of 50.  My own figures are about 200 and 40, neither of which conform to any averages or formula (I'm 40).

  • PhilPub wrote (see)

    Whether you're doing a max HR test or running a race, can you ever say you were running at max?  Really?  What if someone was chasing you with an axe?...

    We need a new frame of reference;

    Resting heart rate
    Max(ish) heart rate
    Axe-chase heart rate

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