Posted by: Chad | October 3, 2009

Why a heart rate monitor will save you

I’m not talking about a fancy heart rate monitor that they hook you up to you when you’re in the hospital.  It doesn’t have to be fancy at all.  Polar makes very good monitors for as cheap as $50 at Dick’s or Sports Authority or any other sporting goods store.  This little device (I recommend buying one that comes with both the chest strap and the wrist watch) can help take your fitness level to the next level and will help you reach your fitness goals that must faster.

This is the one that I have.  Very simple, yet effective.

This is the one that I have. Very simple, yet effective.

I see it far too often….people in the gym claiming they are working hard and really pushing themselves.  I then realize they don’t have a bead of sweat on them.  They don’t stink (not saying I like it when people stink) and they aren’t even really breathing hard.  So why are they telling me how hard they are working?  Are they actually pushing themselves that hard?  Most likely not.  When I have a client and want them to run on the days when I don’t meet with them, I can tell them I want them to work hard.  I can say, “Now, make sure you push yourself hard and challenge yourself.”  But what does that really mean?  What does it mean to them when I tell them to work hard?  Everyone is going to have their own definition of “working hard”.  They have no idea how hard they are actually working (and I don’t know either).  I could tell them to work at a level of 8 out of 10 but even then, how do you accurately measure that?  You really can’t at all.  This is exactly why investing in a heart rate monitor can completely change how you exercise and the effectiveness you get from your workouts.  Here are a few reasons why wearing a heart rate monitor will change you:

Everyone is different when it comes to their heart rate.  Everyone has a different resting heart rate.  It will depend on your gender, age, fitness level, diet, etc, etc, etc.  The ONLY true and accurate way to gauge what your heart rate is is to wear a monitor.  Plain and simple.  And how will this help you on your fitness journey you ask?  By wearing a HR (heart rate) monitor, you can then find out what YOUR resting heart rate is.  When you have this you can then figure out (or I can help you) what heart rate range is most appropriate for YOU.  There is a certain thing called the “Fat Burning Zone”.  That sounds nice, doesn’t it?  I’ll say it again….The Fat Burning Zone.  The only way to accurately figure out what this zone is and to keep your heart rate in this zone is to be able to physically see what your heart rate is doing (right there on your watch in an easy to read digital number!).  If your goal is to train for long distance running, you might want to keep your heart rate at a lower intensity for a longer period of time.

You can even make a fashion statement and wear your monitor shirtless!

You can even make a fashion statement and wear your monitor shirtless!

If your goal is to burn fat as fast as possible, you might want to do interval training (your HR will fluctuate low to high).  If your goal is to just improve your cardiovascular fitness overall, you will want to combine a few different workouts and intensities throughout the week.  One workout might consist of keeping your HR steady for an hour and the next workout might be to get it up very high (90% intensity) for a minute then let it recover then up high again and so on.  I even recommend using a HR monitor during weight training workouts.  This way you can see what your heart rate is doing in between sets and if your goal is to burn fat then you probably want to keep it increased in between sets.

I know several people who like to walk for exercise.  That’s fine and dandy but there is usually one major problem.  They have no idea what their HR is and they probably don’t even care.  They should care because if they are used to walking at the same exact pace 5 days a week, their HR is more than likely not increasing very much anymore…..hence, not as much benefit from their workout.  Click HERE is read my post about why changing it up is so important.

With all of that said, I like having my clients wear a heart rate monitor, at least on the workouts when I’m not with them.  I figure out the appropriate HR range for them depending on what I want them to do that day.  They know exactly how hard to work because they know what the number of their wrist watch should say.  When I ask them the next day how hard they worked, they tell me they stayed in the prescribed range and I know for a fact that they pushed themself to the point I wanted them to (HR monitors have a feature where you can save past workouts).  This is much more effective than having them tell me they were at a 7 out of 10.  What does that even mean?  Go shop!

Happy monitoring,




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