If you’ve spent a fair amount of time on the bike, at the gym, or on the running trails then you’ve probably seen and heard about heart rate monitors. But what exactly are heart rate monitors and how do you use them?
Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Any kind of training is a way to push your body to adapt to physical effort, right? When you break it down, increasing your fitness level is simply a way of pushing your body to adapt to physical effort. So if you want to lose weight, build muscle, become faster, or simply feel better you’re going to need to rev up your engine.
Clearly, the most important thing to do towards achieving this is to set some achievable goals and get started. And since your heart rate is by far the best indicator of how hard you are working – as well as how your fitness level is increasing – you’ll get the most out of your workouts by keeping track of them using Sports Tracker combined with the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor.
How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate monitors are super useful for anyone wanting to achieve any kind of fitness goal. If your hope is simply to shave a few pounds, even joggers and walkers can maximize their time by keeping an eye on a heart rate monitor to ensure a workout session doesn’t fall into a leisurely, and not very effective, stroll.
On the other side of the coin, a heart rate monitor is also one of the most effective tools an experienced athlete can use to keep from pushing too hard, overtraining and risking injury. It also helps endurance athletes taper before a big event. In fact, many elite athletes sleep with their heart rate monitors on to find out if their resting heart rate is leveling out as anticipated. If not, it’s a warning to taper more aggressively.
Convinced? Let’s get started…
1) Find Your Maximum Heart Rate
To find your maximum heart rate the first thing you need to do is put yourself through a high intensity training session. A good example of this is a set of intervals alternating between working to exhaustion, followed by a brief rest before working to exhaustion again. Keep repeating until you are totally shattered. Unsurprisingly, the highest number recorded by your heart rate monitor during this session is your maximum heart rate.
2) Define Different Heart Rate Zones for Different Results
- VO2 Max – By exercising at 90% – 100% of your maximum heart rate, this zone is best for building speed as well as for burning fat.
- Anaerobic – Exercise at 80% – 90% of max heart rate during interval training to build speed and increase lung capacity.
- Aerobic – If your goal is weight management and cardiovascular fitness, exercise at 70%-80% of max heart rate.
- Endurance – Exercising at 60 – 70% of max heart rate is an ideal zone to train for endurance as well as for recovery days.
If you are interested to see and follow-up your heart rate zones you can also track activities like Motorsports, fishing, sailing, paragliding or even e-sports.
3) Resting Heart Rate
Record your resting heart rate first thing in the morning when you wake up to determine your resting heart rate. As your cardiovascular fitness increases, your resting heart rate should drop. Keeping an eye on your resting heart rate is a great way to see the results of all your hard work.
Finally, for everyone, regardless of experience or goals, a heart rate monitor will create an awareness of what your body feels like at certain levels of effort. And it is this kind of body awareness that will perhaps make your heart rate monitor one of your most valuable tools for day-to-day healthy living. If you have any other tips on using a heart rate monitor, we’d love to hear them so feel free to share with our community in the comments below.
Trey Cook – Our Sports Tracker exploring the outdoors
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