There was once a time when heart rate monitors were only used by professional athletes. Today, anyone interested in increasing their fitness can make use of their own heart rate monitor. If you want to make the most of your fitness routine, read on to see how a heart rate monitor can take your workout up a notch.
1. Workout in Your Target Zone Working out in a specific target heart rate zone will help you reach your fitness goals. In general, exercise should safely be performed within 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Exercising at a rate of more than 85 percent puts you at heightened risk of injury without any additional health benefit. The specific heart rate zone you want to target will depend on your fitness goals, but a heart rate monitor is the best way to see if you are in the best zone for your body and fitness level.
2.Depending on your personal goals, you may want to workout within a target heart rate zone that is more specific than the general 60 to 80 percent recommended rate. For example, people trying to lose weight will often focus on staying within 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate, which is also known as the “fat burning zone.” Those pushing their cardiovascular endurance often opt to workout closer to a rate of 80 percent.
3. Track Your Progress Fitness does not happen with one workout, but rather through a consistent routine. A heart rate monitor makes it easy to track your daily progress by showing you exactly how hard your heart is working throughout your routine. This gives you a more accurate count of your calories burned and the time spent working out in various heart rate target zones.
4. Increase Your Motivation It may take a few weeks to see the external body changes that come with regular exercise. However, tracking your progress with a heart rate monitor will show you internal changes, such as your cardiovascular endurance. When you first start working out, it may take very little effort to raise your heart rate. Seeing that you can run or bike further than you could before your heart rate rises is a sign that your training is paying off.
5. Track Multiple Activities Many types of exercise equipment are designed to be used with a heart rate monitor. Some use hand grips to read your pulse and others receive data from a special strap worn around your chest. (The chest strap method is often considered to be the more accurate approach.) You can also purchase a personal heart rate monitor which comes with a chest strap and a wristwatch interface. These versatile units track your heart rate during any activity and often come with additional features to enhance your training.
6. Minimize Workout Frustration To get the most out of your exercise effort, you should stay within 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Yet without a heart rate monitor it can be difficult to know when you are in this exercise zone. If your workout is not raising your heart rate enough, you are likely to be frustrated by your slow rate of improvement. If your workout is pushing you too hard, you will only become exhausted and risk injury. A heart rate monitor keeps you working out at a level that is sure to bring results.