Heart Rate Monitor, How Are You Using Yours?

In today's day and age, pretty much everyone, everywhere has a heart rate monitor. From smart watches, fitness trackers, rings, chest straps…even just a good ol’ fashion pulse oximeter. Even my 7 year old niece is sporting a fitness tracker these days.

But why and how are you using it?

If I had a penny for every time I saw someone look down at their watch during a training session, well, I would have a lot of pennies. But what exactly are they tracking?

Let's start with what a heart rate monitor does. A heart rate monitor is simply a device that records your heart rate in real time my measuring electrical signals from your heart. The feedback received gives you data that can help you make adjustments to gain the greatest benefits from your training.

Awareness. Is. Power.

The more data you have, the more effective your workouts or training sessions can be. The myth still exists that for a workout to be considered “good,” you must be in a puddle of sweat and ready to hurl. I don’t know about you, but puking isn’t my idea of a good time nor is it helping your strength, fat loss, or conditioning goals. Using a heart rate monitor can give you objective feedback on your intensity. For example, with exercises that require a lot of pressure or time under tension; I will wait until my heart rate returns to 120 bpm before going after my next set.

For me, this insures that I’m getting the appropriate amount of rest in between sets.

As for conditioning or aerobic work, the ability to bring your heart rate back down reasonably quick is a great indication of your fitness level. It helps tell you when you can ramp it up and when you should perhaps back off.

There are so many choices when it comes to picking a heart rate monitor. I have an Apple Watch, an Oura Ring and a Polar Chest Strap. (I LOVE data!) While both my Apple Watch and Oura Ring do a great job..especially in regards to sleep information, I prefer my chest strap during training as I find it most comfortable, out of the way and accurate.

While using a heart rate monitor isn’t the only way you can monitor workout intensity, it is one of the easiest ways. Plus- who doesn’t love seeing that little calories burned indicator? More importantly though, it is a great way to make sure you are maximizing your workouts to best benefit your health.

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Michael Allen

Author Bio

Michael has been working with clients in the gym and countless adults in a physical therapy setting since 2013. He spent 3 semesters working at Towson University with student-athletes from nearly every sport at the school. He served as the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Kennard-Dale High School during the 2019-2020 school year. His goal is to always get better and give you the safest and most effective use of your time at First Capital Gym.