How to Calculate Your Heart Rate Without a Tracker

calculate heart rate

If I hadn't made breathwork an intentional practice, my breathing would've been uncontrollable. Sweat was pouring down my face and dripping into crevices of my body that I didn't even know existed. I slowed the pace of my morning run through the neighborhood to a brisk walk.

I placed my hands on my hips and gulped for air. My heart had to be thumping about 170 beats per minute. I checked my tracker to confirm. It read 125.

"What?!" I yelled aloud.

Furious, I snatched the tracker off my wrist, gave it a good throw that would've made Patrick Mahomes proud, and watched it fly through the air then land right in the sewer. Touchdown.

Dramatic, much? Sure.

In my defense, this was an issue I had been dealing with for about three months. Quite frankly, I was over it. An accurate heart rate is a key factor in determining how many calories are burned during a workout. Being that I had 50 to drop, accuracy was of the utmost importance.

After blurting a few expletives, I placed my pointer and middle finger on the pulse of my neck.

172 beats per minute.

"That's what I thought," I said silently.

Aside from the realization that I probably should consider taking anger management classes, it dawned on me that learning how to manually check your heart rate is a skill anyone who exercises should know.

1. Take your pulse

Depending on the length of your workout, you'll want to take your pulse about every ten minutes. For quicker workouts that may be 20 minutes or shorter like HIIT, taking your pulse every five minutes is a good idea.

You can take your pulse on your wrist or on your neck. I prefer the neck because it's easier to find and seems to be more profound. To take your pulse on your neck:

  1. Place the pointer and middle fingers of your left hand on the upper left corner of your neck, slightly below where your jaw bone and neck connect.

  2. Count your pulse for 15 seconds.

  3. Write the number down.

  4. Repeat this every 5-10 minutes throughout your workout.

You can also count your pulse for 10 seconds if you don't have a lot of rest time, but Mayo Clinic recommends 15 seconds. Whatever you choose, keep it consistent for the duration of the workout.