A heart rate monitor is a device that measures your heart rate in real-time. It detects, counts, and displays the number of your heartbeat per minute. It also shows an increase or decrease in your heart rate depending on the intensity of your workout, which can be used to determine the adjustments you need to reach your goal.
These advantages are the reason why most people turn to this device. But, how should you use a heart rate monitor? In this article, we will not just discuss how to use a heart monitor, but we will also cover how to get your target heart-rate zone, and how a heart rate monitor works and what are its benefits.
How to Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults should do a 30-minute exercise on most days or a total of 150 minutes workout in a week, that is vigorous enough to increase their heart rate to 50%-85% of their maximum heart rate.
Formula: 220bpm – your age = your target heart-rate zone
How Do Heart Rate Monitors Work
No, the numbers displayed on your heart rate monitors are definitely not randomly generated.
Each time your heart beats, it sends an electrical signal through your heart muscles which then causes a contraction that is considered as one heartbeat. This electrical signal is also detected through your skin. Hence, heart rate monitors require to be directly in contact with your skin.
Most heart rate monitors also include a microprocessor that monitors and calculates your heart rate. Its electrodes pick up the electrical signals which are then sent to the transmitter clips. The signals are continuously transferred wirelessly, usually in the form of Bluetooth, ANT+, or radio waves, into a receiver, which will give you your heart rate reading.
Keep in mind that you have to make sure that the sensor pads are slightly moistened with gel or water to get a good connection and that the strap is tight enough, so the electrodes do not move while doing the activity.
How Do Heart Rate Monitors Benefit Your Training
Your heart rate is a very reliable and accurate indicator of how hard you are working out. It gives you the correct notion that you are either not working hard enough or are working too hard to the point of overtraining your body.
- Push or Pull
A heart rate monitor helps you determine when it’s time to either pull back from a solid workout or push harder for a maximum benefit.
- Correct Workout Intensity
A heart rate monitor allows you to set a goal and workout in a specific zone. There are different heart zone training levels you should familiarize yourself with. These are:
Healthy Heart Rate Zone: This is for beginners or those who have stopped and has not worked out for a while. In this level, you will still be able to carry out a conversation, although your breathing may be a bit heavier than your usual. Working out in this zone helps decrease your blood pressure, body fat, and cholesterol.
Fitness Heart Rate Zone: In this level, your breathing is heavier, but you will still be able to say short sentences. Exercising in this zone also aids in decreasing your cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat.
Aerobic Heart Rate Zone: This is the perfect zone to workout on if you want to increase your pace and cardiovascular capacity. In this level, you will be able to say only short phrases. You will also be able to burn stored body fat continuously and improve your muscle strength.
Anaerobic Heart Rate Zone: In this level, you will only be able to say a word at a time. This is also the level for increasing your threshold as your body will start to produce lactic acid from working your muscles to their limits.
Red Line Zone: This is for serious athletes. In this level, you will have a difficult time speaking except maybe for grasping a word or two. Working out in this zone allows you to increase your speed, but this should only be done for short intervals.
How Should You Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Based on the discussion above, we have already covered how a heart rate monitor is used, i.e. it should be directly in contact with your skin and strapped tight enough that the electrodes can’t move while you workout. You also should ensure that the sensor pads are moistened to get a good connection.
Furthermore, here are some ways to make the most out of your heart rate monitor:
- Know your maximum heart rate