It is a common question among cyclists. I have heard several people discuss this topic and have often seen them compare early morning resting heart rates registrations. However, the fact is that you can only compare these values with your previous registrations because we all have different anatomy of our cardiovascular system. But these systems are all based on the exact physiological mechanisms. Thus, we can learn from each others’ physiological experiences and adaptations, but we can’t compare individual heart rate values. E.g. your resting heart rate is 58bpm while your friend’s heart rate is 42bpm. Still, I can’t say which one is in the best shape or has the highest VO2 max.
Autonomic nervous system regulates resting heart rate
The resting heart rate is closely related to the autonomic nervous system. You will probably already have noticed that your resting heart is lower when you are in good shape because of a larger stroke volume or, more correctly, a bigger parasympathetic drive on the sinus node. It is one of the central adaptations to endurance training.
Know your resting heart rate
A good reason to know your average resting heart rate level is that you can use it to discover overtraining or illness. If your resting heart rate is 10-15 beats above average, you might have a disease. In that case, I will recommend you take your temperature and look for other symptoms. Avoid intensive training or races if you don’t feel well.
Some values to compare with (don’t do it)
There are significant deviations in average resting heart rates. Many well-trained cyclists usually have a resting heart rate in the 40s, some in the high 30s and few in the low 30s or lower. There are also well-trained cyclists or even professionals in the high 40s or low 50s. And as I said previously: Don’t compare values with others.