At one time heart rate monitors would have been considered for elite athletes and those with extra cash for all the latest gadgets. Not any more.
The regular fitness enthusiast, amateur athlete and weekend warrior recognizes the value of using a heart rate monitor to track their workout. And not only has the price dropped substantially but the technology has also improved to provide more accurate readings.
If you are already in the habit of using a heart rate monitor keep doing so. And if not, what are you waiting for? The sooner you begin tracking your workouts the better results you will begin to see.
Below are 4 Top Reasons for Using a Heart Rate Monitor
#1 – Proper Intensity
While it’s great to push ourselves when we train I subscribe to the approach that it’s better to stimulate and not annihilate a system. You want to figure out what is the dose of exercise that won’t kill you but will challenge you enough to come back stronger. In training circles this is referred to as the minimal essential dose.
Think of this in terms of poison. Too much of it will kill you but a small dose may allow you to develop an immunity to it. This is similar to how vaccinations work.
Anyways wearing a heart rate monitor allows you to track your heart rate and know when you are doing the right amount, not enough or too much.
#2 – Track Duration
We’re all busy. And if we could have the results of proper hydration and training without all the efforts many would choose this path.
But the reality is a magic bullet doesn’t exist and so we have to make efforts to maintain our health and fitness. Using a heart rate monitor allows us to see how long we have been training. And when we repeat the same workouts we can now assess when our fitness is improving.
Plus when you finish a set you can see exactly how much time you are resting. Without a clock running it’s very easy to waste extra time and drag your workouts out a little more.
#3 – Combine with HRV
How much did the last hard training session take out of you? How recovered are you after your last great night’s sleep? How close or far from your optimal level of recovery are you?
The bas news is that this is really hard, if not impossible, to know without measuring your heart rate variability. With the chest strap from your heart rate monitor and a HRV unit (I like the Bioforce HRV) you can know how well recovered you are from one workout to the next. With this info you will know whether to do your program as planned, push a little more, dial it back or maybe take a rest day.
#4 – Health Monitoring
You know the point when you first get a cold? When you make up a little more tired than normal and you feel a bit of a sore throat?
At this point you are already sick and then can either continue as planned and be out of commission for a few days or more or you can take hold of your health and stop yourself from getting more sick.
A heart rate monitor helps you see when you may be on the verge of being sick.
Consider the following…
A few weeks ago I was running sprints with a buddy of mine, JD. A former hockey planner, JD is a fitness freak. I can show him a workout once and he dominates whatever is we’re doing on that day.
Anyways on this particular day we were running sprints and my pulse would normally range from 177-178. Really it’s that specific. But on this day I hit 200. And my times we were slower than they normally would be.
It would one thing if my times were better and my pulse hit the 180s, which it never does. But in this case I was working more than 10% harder but was going 10% slower.
My rest was good. I hadn’t changed my diet or nutrition. The only thing I could think of was maybe I was coming down with something. After a few nights of extra sleep, increased hydration and a massage for additional recovery I bounced back and no further ill effects.
If you’re not already using a heart rate monitor you are short changing yourself on the results you could be achieving. The price has dropped to where a quality Polar brand is around $100 and will last you for years. As with anything you want to achieve you need to know where you are, how much progress you are making and whether you can tolerate more training stress or not.
Make sure to talk to one of our coaches if you would like us to set you up with a heart rate monitor.