Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor

Do you use a heart rate monitor when you train? I guess at most big box gyms the majority of people don’t. I mean when you consider that most people don’t have a training journal to record their workouts they probably aren’t going to go to the trouble and expense of investing in a heart rate monitor.

But for those that do have and use a heart rate monitor I’m curious as to what they monitor?

Again if I had to guess what number most people check first when they complete a training session I would say it’s the calories consumed.

And this is kind of amusing because:

A. This is simply a rough estimation of correlating calories burned with elevated heart rate. If this is all it took to get lean we could probably just watch marathon horror movies every day to spike our heart rates repeatedly, burn tons of calories, and get lean.

B. The estimation is just that. It uses an average and includes the calories burned while at rest. In other words if my body uses 50 calories at rest and 110 calories to go for a hike than the hike only burned 60 calories. But the display on my heart rate monitor would show 110 calories and perhaps give me a false impression of how effective a particular training session was.

But other than tracking the calories consumed a heart rate monitor can tell us the duration of our exercise, our average heart rate and our maximal heart rate. Now you can always pick up models with other functions that include lap functions, GPS, elevation and other things but at minimum you’ll get heart rate data.

So why would I want a heart rate monitor anyway?

Can’t I simply stop and check my pulse every now-and-again?

To answer the second question first you could stop and check your pulse. But there are a couple of problems with that. The first being accuracy. If someone uses a short time period to count beats there is more room for error. For example, let’s say I was counting for 6 seconds. And in that time I count 14 at my neck. And let’s say two other people were counting at my wrists. And they record 13 and 15 beats.

Multiplying each of these by 10 and we get pulse rates of 130, 140 & 150 beats per minute. Which one is it? There’s up to 15% error if we count wrong. This kind of defeats the purpose of accuracy and using heart rate if we are out by that much.

The other issue with taking your own heart rate is that sometimes isn’t that practical. If I’m on a stationary piece of cardio equipment I may be able to pause momentarily and get a pulse. But this means I have to slow down to do so. And for some other sports, like swimming or cross country skiing, it would mean having to stop altogether.

So there are benefits to having a heart rate that is constantly recording and providing real time feedback of my workout.

And as for the second question as to why I would want a heart rate monitor this comes down to wanting to measure and achieve improvement. If you’re not assessing, your guessing. (I stole that quote btw)

So the next thing to do would be to know what it is you want to improve?

In the next blog post I’ll go over some of the measures you can track with a heart rate monitor and how we can improve these.

And if you’d like to start using a heart rate monitor make sure to come see us. We have a new shipment of the RS 300X in stock. Black and orange.

Chris [fb-like]





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