Exercising with a heart rate monitor gives you insights in your cardio heart rate zones. Keeping track of heart rate zones during exercise has become increasingly popular. Wearing a heart rate monitor can help you track and improve your performance. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of using a heart rate monitor while exercising, so you can decide for yourself if it’s for you.
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Your progress can be closely monitored
There are several ways to measure your progress with a heart rate monitor:
- Maximum heart rate: Measure your maximum heart rate regularly during an intense workout or fitness test. If your maximum heart rate increases, it means your heart is working more efficiently and your fitness level is improving.
- Heart rate zones: Use heart rate zones to measure how intensely you train. By comparing your heart rate to heart rate zones, you can see if your workout is effective and if you need to work even harder to see improvements.
- Resting heart rate: Measure your resting heart rate regularly, especially if you do a lot of cardio training. When your resting heart rate drops, it means your heart is working more efficiently and your fitness is improving.
- Heart rate variability: Measure the variability of your heart rate to see how well your body responds to stress. The greater the heart rate variability, the healthier your heart is and the better your body responds to stress.
- Training diary: Keep a training diary in which you keep track of your heart rate, heart rate zones and other relevant data. This will help you see how you are progressing and what improvements you can still make.
More focused training toward a goal with heart rate zones
Training in heart rate zones is an efficient way to train toward your goal. By knowing how hard your heart is working during exercise, you can better assess how intense your workout is and whether you are at the right level. For example, if your goal is to burn fat, it is recommended that you exercise at a lower heart rate. This will help your body burn fat more efficiently, and you will be less likely to be exhausted. On the other hand, if your goal is to train fitness, it is recommended to achieve a higher heart rate. This will make your heart and lungs work harder, and you will see results in your fitness faster. Monitor your workouts in an app like Strava to keep track of your progress.
Monitor your recovery after exercise
Using a heart rate monitor is an effective way to monitor recovery after exercise. By measuring heart rate after a workout, you can see how quickly your heart rate returns to resting heart rate. This provides information about how strenuous the workout was and how quickly the body recovers. By monitoring heart rate during and after training, you can adjust your training to achieve optimal recovery and prevent injury. If your heart rate remains high after training, it may indicate overtraining. This can lead to fatigue, loss of performance and even injury. If your resting heart rate is above 100 beats per minute, this may indicate stress or an underlying health problem. This is something to discuss with a physician.
Training at the right level with heart rate zones
Training effectively with a heart rate monitor is an efficient way to achieve your fitness goals. By measuring your heart rate, you know exactly what intensity you are training at. This will prevent you from training too lightly, causing you to not see results, or training too heavily, causing injuries. By training at the right intensity, you ensure that you get the most out of your workout. This is because you burn more calories and strengthen your muscles in a better way.
Disadvantages of a heart rate monitor
There are some traps to pay attention to when training with a heart rate monitor.
Listen to your body
It is very common that people focus too much on the numbers, when training with a heart rate monitor, instead of listening to their own body. It is important to remember that everyone is different and that a certain heart rate may be safe for one person while it is too high for another. Therefore, it is important to listen to your own body and not just rely on the data of the heart rate monitor. If you are not feeling fit, then it is better to adjust or even stop your training instead of sticking to a certain heart rate. This can help prevent overtraining or injury.
Not every heart rate monitor is equally accurate
This can lead to misinformation about your heart rate and, therefore, incorrect workouts. For example, if you think your heart rate is in your fat burn zone when in reality it is not, this can lead to overtraining or underperformance. In addition, a heart rate monitor can also be distracting during your workout, making you less focused on your body sensation. It is important to pay close attention to whether the heart rate monitor is accurate, and not to get too distracted by the numbers during your workout.
External factors affecting your heart rate
A heart rate monitor only measures your current heart rate and does not provide insight into the underlying causes of heart rate changes. External factors such as cold, time of day, mental state, diet and medication can affect your heart rate and lead to wrong conclusions about your health. It is important to look at the heart rate measurement in combination with other health indicators, should you see discrepancies in your measured data.
Training in a group to improve heart rate?
Do you like to train in a group? Then training by heart rate is harder to fit in when you like to stick together. This is because everyone has a different heart rate and therefore needs a different intensity while training. When everyone in a group trains at their own heart rate, some will go too fast and others too slow. This can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration among group members.
One solution to this is to split the group into smaller subgroups, with each subgroup training at a different intensity. This allows everyone to train at their own heart rate while still training in a group.
Does it work for me?
So working out with heart rate monitors is generally very useful, but also fun and motivating. It gives you insight into your current fitness level and helps you reach your goals. Moreover, it can increase your motivation and can help you make your workout more efficient. But, be careful not to become too obsessed with heart rate zones. It is important to enjoy your workouts and listen to your body. Let the data help you improve, but don’t let it be your sole focus. Train with enjoyment and with attention to your own body, and you will see that you will get results quickly.