For people who are seriously interested in seeing results, it is important to have a heart rate monitor (HRM). CFC’s CEO Tom Kalka claims that “Exercising without a heart rate monitor is like driving without a speedometer”. These devices provide users with concrete data about how intense they are working. Data include how many calories they are burning, and what sort of training (endurance, performance, Minimal data includes: Calories burned, average heart rate, and current heart rate. More advance models and track your route via GPS, and can download your data to a website where you can track your data to compare later. All of this information can be used to adjust your exercise program to help you reach your goals faster. Knowledge is power and HRM’s give you the power to adjust your exercise program to be more effective.
Though exercisers may feel like they are working hard enough without a monitor on, they can’t actually know what impact (if any) their workout routines are having. They are, in essence, driving blind, and the best remedy for that situation is using a heart rate monitor.
An Indispensable Tool
Many elliptical machines and treadmills have HRMs attached to the machine. However, they are severely inaccurate as accurate for many reasons. The biggest reason is many people do not enter their specific personal data (such as weight, height, and gender which significantly varies the number of calories actually burned). In addition, unless you keep your hands on the sensors during the entire workout, then the machine just estimates the number of beats for you instead of maintaining and accurate total. The biggest difference with the HRM and the sensors on your exercise machine is that the HRM has a strap the wraps around your chest and measure your heart rate. Since it’s always attached to you, you don’t need to hold onto anything and therefore it gives you a significantly more accurate reading.
Knowing how hard an exerciser’s heart is beating is also important for determining how their workout will affect their fitness. Different heart-rate ranges are good for different types of fitness. Those looking to burn the most fat during an exercise session should train between 60 and 70 percent of their maximum heart rate. People who want to improve their cardiovascular system (i.e. lower resting heart rate, improve speed, improve explosiveness, etc) should train between 70 percent and higher. With a monitor on, exercisers can keep an eye on their exact heart rate and make sure they are in the right zone.
Choosing a Monitor
There is no shortage of options available to people interested in buying a heart rate monitor. Popular brands include Polar, Garmin, and Timex IronMan. Basic monitors cost less than $80, while more advanced models can carry price tags of several hundred dollars. There are many different features and models to choose from; probably the most important feature is a chest strap, which will provide the most accurate measurements. Monitors attached to the wrist or other areas work, but not quite as user friendly or precise.