Everyone who is serious about their workout needs to invest in a heart rate monitor, and not just any heart rate monitor but the best heart rate monitor. Measuring your heart rate is a good way to determine the effectiveness of your workout as it helps your workout in your body’s current “Goldilocks zone”, or your workout sweet spot. An effective workout is a smart workout, and that’s exactly what a heart rate monitor does for you – it helps you workout smart. But are there really benefits to using a heart rate monitor in your workout?

Heart Rate Zones – Optimizing Your Workout

Different heart rates have different effects on your workout, and knowing the four heart rate zones is critical if you are to train your body to its maximum potential. So what are those heart rates?

Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats when you’re most relaxed, or at rest as the name suggests. Measure this when you get out of bed in the morning or when you are most relaxed. Although heart rates are different for each of us, your average resting heart rate (RHR) should be between 60-80 heart beats a minute for males and 70-90 for females. Higher heart rates are an indicator of being unhealthy or out of shape while lower heart rates indicate a healthier well-conditioned body.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

Your maximum heart rate is the highest possible number of beats your heart can potentially reach. Reaching your maximum heart rate is a result of pushing your heart as far as it can go during an aerobic workout. Measuring your maximum heart is a difficult task and most experienced athletes get it professionally done in laboratories using an electrocardiogram. They then use a formula to calculate the rate. 

To get a rough estimate of your maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220. Never try to push yourself to your limits for the sake of measuring your maximum heart rate as you can end up injuring yourself.

Training Heart Rate

Your training heart rate is the heart rate you maintain during your aerobic workouts. In order to effectively monitor your training heart rate, you should maintain a steady, rhythmic pace during your workouts. Although the proper training heart rate is a hotly debated issue, it is recommended that you train as low as 50 percent of your MHR or as high as 70 percent of your MHR. For professional athletes, the training heart rate can be as high as 80 percent of your MHR.

Recovery Heart Rate

Your recovery heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats after a workout. It is an indicator of your heart’s ability to recover and indicates the condition of the heart. To measure your recovery heart rate, measure your heart rate 2-5 minutes after a workout.

So I Know My Heart Rates, What Now?

Knowing your heart rates is beneficial to your training in more ways than you can imagine. A few of those advantages include but are not limited to the following.

1. Puts You in the Zone

In order to give your body the best workout, you need to work out in strategic heart zones. For example, in order to lose weight, your cardio has to be in the 60-70 percent MHR zone. Different workouts will need you to work within certain heart rate zones for you to get maximum benefits out of it.

2. Helps You Plan Your Workout

An effective workout calls for a good plan of action. Smart, strategic workouts will ensure that you tone your entire body in the best way possible. To arrive at that plan, you will need to make informed adjustments to your exercise regimen – informed by your heart rate monitor.

3. Your Own Personal Trainer

Your heart rate monitor can act as your own personal trainer. By reading and understanding your heart rates, you are in a position to know how hard to push yourself, or not in the cases of those who are already exerting themselves too much. With a heart rate monitor, you are able to know how long to make your training sessions, how far to push yourself, and when to stop.

Finding the Best Heart Rate Monitor

There are many heart rate monitors on the market today and many of them are quite good. The most important consideration in choosing one is comfort. If you find a heart rate monitor watch more comfortable than a chest strap model, then go for that one. And if the chest strap model is more comfortable for you, then that’s your best heart rate monitor. 

Now that you are equipped to train your body in a smart informed way, it’s time to hit the gym – this time smarter.

(When you hit the gym, don’t forget to bring your water bottle with you to make sure you stay hydrated, and check out our post about beating dehydration.)

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