Fitness Baselines


The average resting heart rate for men is 60 to 80 beats per minute.  The resting heart rate for women is 70 to 90 beats per minute.  A heart rate as low as 28 to 40 beats per minutes have been reported in highly conditioned endurance athletes.  The untrained individual’s heart rate may exceed 100 beats per minute.  Factors such as temperature, anxiety, stress, smoking, drinking, caffeine, time of day, and body position all have an effect on an individual’s resting heart rate. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and minimizing stress and anxiety assist the heart in becoming a more effective muscle.


Blood pressure measurements are the amount of force exerted by blood against the arterial walls of the vascular system.  Systolic pressure (the high reading) reflects the blood flow pressure from the contracting heart muscle into the arteries.  Systolic pressure can vary from 100 to 140 beats per minute.  Diastolic pressure (the low reading) is the blood flow measurement when the heart muscle is in non-contractile mode (resting).  The low reading may vary from 60 to 90 beats per minute.  Hypertension or abnormally high blood pressure measurements exceed 140/90 mmhg.  Regular exercise and proper nutrition will help maintain acceptable blood pressure levels.

Category                    Systolic BP (mm Hg)                        Diastolic BP (mm Hg)

Optimal                                   <120                            and                  <80

Normal                                    120 – 129                    and                  80 – 84

High Normal                           130 – 139                    and                  85 – 89


            Stage 1             140 – 159                    or                       90 – 99

            Stage 2            160 – 179                    or                     100 – 109

            Stage 3             > or = 180                   or                     > or = 110


Height and weight charts are widely used to assess individuals for parameters on overweightness based on factors of age, sex and frame size. These tables do not take into account body composition or the actual amount of muscle to fat ratio.  Percentage of body fat is a more acceptable indicator of fitness.  Body composition is divided into lean body mass and fat weight.  Fat weight is the remainder of weight in the body.  Fat is used as an insulator, long term fuel source for energy and as padding for vital internal organs within the body.  It is essential to maintain a certain level of fat in the body.  Excess fat is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arterial sclerosis and other debilitating conditions.  Regular cardiovascular exercise, muscular endurance and strength, and good nutritional habits will assist in maintaining a healthy body weight as well as muscle to fat ratio, and keep body fat at an acceptable level.

MEN (age 20-39)                                                       WOMEN (age 20-39)

Essential                      3% to 5%                   Essential                      11% to 15%

Athletic                       6% to 11%                  Athletic                       14% to 18%

Average                      12% to 19%                Average                      19% to 24%

Potential high risk       20% to 24%                Potential high risk       25% to 31%

Obese                          24% and over              Obese                          31% and over

MEN (age 40-60+)                                         WOMEN (age 40-60+)

Essential                      3% to 8%                   Essential                      11% to 15%

Athletic                       9% to 17%                  Athletic                       16% to 21%

Average                      18% to 25%                Average                      22% to 29%

Potential high risk       26% to 28%                Potential high risk       30% to 35%

Obese                          28% and over              Obese                          35% and over

Body fat/composition refers to the percentage of body weight that is fat and is based on the assumption that body weight can be divided into fat mass and lean body mass.  Lean body mass is assumed to include muscles, bones, organs, internal fluids etc. 


Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to working muscles efficiently.  The greatest amount of oxygen the human body can utilize in one minute is called your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 Max). The more oxygen the working muscle have, the greater the amount of work and the longer you will be able to perform an activity.  To increase aerobic capacity, you must work at 60 to 75% of your maximal heart rate for a minimum of twenty minutes at least three times per week.  Of all factors of cardiovascular training the most important is the monitoring of the heart.  Target Heart Rate (THR) refers to the ideal number of beats per minute for an individuals based on their physical condition and age.

Intensity Levels

40-50 %          Deconditioned

50-60 %          Beginner

60-70 %          Intermediate

70-80 %          Advanced

80-90 %          High Level Athlete

As a general guideline use the following formula to determine your THR. 

THR = 220 – age x intensity level x 1.15

For example:

Age 50                        Intensity Level – Intermediate (60-70%) x 1.15 = 135

220 – 50 = 170 x 6.5 = 110 x 1.15 = 127


Flexibility is the ability of a joint to move fluidly through its full range of motion. Flexibility is important in the performance of sports skills, exercise, and day to day activity.  Age, disabilities, and activity impact flexibility factor. The decrease in flexibility progresses with age and lack of activity causing the elasticity of soft tissue to decrease.  Loss of range is associated with muscloskeletal injury and low back problems.  Daily stretching is important in avoiding injury and being capable to perform day to day activities. 


The ability to perform the same task or several tasks repeatedly for a long period of time is muscular endurance.  Muscular endurance is the capacity of a muscle to exert force repeatedly against resistance or to old a fixed or static contraction over time.  For instance, submaximal levels of muscular fitness are required to perform daily routines and leisure activities without undue fatigue or stress.  Consistent weight training (low weight – high repetition) at submaximal will greatly increase muscular endurance levels and aid in shaping body parts along with increasing resting metabolism rate (RMR).


Muscular strength is the ability to develop maximum force, or tension in an exercise or single maximal effort. Typical intensity for a strength activity would range from 85% to 95% of maximum capability producing a profound effect in the increases of muscular strength.  Resistance training should be done 2 to 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes per session.  When training for strength your starting week should be 60% of your 1 rep max (1RM).


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