Your heart plays an essential part in your health, well-being, and ability to stay alive (of course). When your heart is pumping at an ideal tempo, you’re able to maximize your calorie expenditure while still feeling and performing your best. Having a hard time figuring out just how hard and fast to push yourself during a routine? A heart monitor is your new best friend!
How to Use It
Once you’ve got a heart rate monitor, all you have to do is strap it on your wrist, start working out, and it does the rest. When you’re pushing yourself in the gym or on a run and are feeling good, check the monitor and take note. That is likely where you want your heart rate to fall in the future. It’s your heart’s sweet spot (for now).
Actually, it’s a good idea to toss on your heart rate monitor when you’re not working out. Wear it while you’re going through your daily routine—working, eating, going to the store. This gives you a baseline to see how hard your heart works normally. So when you start exercising, you should see a size-able change in your heart’s rhythm.
With the heart rate monitor on, you can quickly find your lactate threshold (or red-line). This is when your body switches from using mostly oxygen to using mostly glycogen during high-intensity exertion. You could go to an exercise physiologist and pay for a special test to find this out, but generally that’s not really necessary. Simply note at what point in your workout you’re unable to talk without breaking up the sentence. At this point your breathing rate suddenly increases, your pace is comfortably hard and the benefit is long lasting. Look at your heart rate. Keep that in mind for the next time you work out. The more awareness you work to create, the more advantageous the monitor is.
Watch It Change
As you know, the goal of regular exercise is to beat your body up a little bit. You know, put it to the test. When you do this consistently, your heart does something funny. It actually beats slower. With a heart rate monitor, it’s easy to monitor your overall fitness progress by watching your beats per minute drop. The change will take time and may never be dramatic, but as your body grows more accustomed to being pushed, it responds by becoming more efficient. Your heart is a muscle as well. As you condition it, the volume of blood that it can pump increases and as a result, it doesn’t need to pump as fast.
Take It to Heart
Information is only useful if you use it. Once you learn your ideal heart rate, pay attention to how fast your heart is working during your routine. Then do whatever it takes to get your heart there and stay pumping at that pace until your trainer says to call it a day. Are there certain exercises that spike the heart rate more than others? How about your recovery time–how is that changing?
Create the awareness and the results will quickly follow suit.