So Just Why A Heart Rate Monitor?

Posted by Beth Hartman

The following post is a little redo of one that we did previously, but we added a few points and wanted to just put it out there for anyone who is considering to invest in a good reliable tracking HRM, that will provide them with all they need to help them on their way to a healthier lifestyle.

Ever take in a local marathon race? Have you noticed that the serious runners are all decked out wearing the latest gear including compression socks, technical shirts, iPods, Garmin’s and yes heart rate monitors, or HRM ’s as they are called.

Do you know how to get the most out of your workout using a heart rate monitor? Unfortunately, most runners and those into fitness training don’t either, or rather they may not use them as effective as they should.

But you may ask, why really use a heart rate monitor?? One of the best reasons is to track your endurance, against your heart rate but the most important reason to use one is that they can ensure you recover properly!

Most runners overdo their easy runs (and fail to run hard enough on their fast workout days), thus undercutting their recovery and going into important workouts or races with too much fatigue.
The right heart rate monitor training can help you avoid this – enabling smarter training, better recovery, and ultimately faster racing. More importantly, since you won’t be pushing yourself too hard when you should be prioritizing recovery, you’re less likely to get an injury from demanding too much of your body too soon.

Not every run lends itself to heart rate monitor training. It wouldn’t make sense to wear an HRM for a 5k specific track workout. You have to choose your workouts wisely; fortunately, three types of workouts are perfect.

Tempo Runs: This is the obvious one – almost every runner does a tempo run with some regularity (or should!) and can easily incorporate a heart rate monitor. Tempo runs are done at about 85-90% of your maximum heart rate. After determining your max HR, so you can program your HRM to beep whenever your HR creeps over or under the range that corresponds to 85-90% of your max.

It doesn’t help you to run faster than your target heart range during a tempo run, so make sure you stay within your personal limits. When you run faster, you exceed your lactate threshold (This is the point at which your body goes from aerobic running to anaerobic running – or without oxygen) and the workout isn’t as effective. Don’t turn tempo runs into races.
So what’s your maximum heart rate?

A better way to determine your max HR is to wear your heart rate monitor for a very hard work out and note the highest Beats per Minute (BPM) that it records. Make sure that your workout is tough because you need to really challenge yourself to get an accurate maximum reading.

Heart Rate Recovery Workouts: A constant question among runners is, “how much time do I take for recovery in-between intervals?” It’s a great question and it depends on when you are in the training cycle.

If you want to prioritize your performance on each interval and start each one fully rested, you can use your heart rate to guide the recovery time.
Here’s what to do:
Wear your heart rate monitor for the entire workout! When you finish an interval, keep jogging easy, (or walk) until your heart rate reaches about 65-70% of your Maximum Heart Rate. Start the next interval only when your heart rate has recovered to an easy effort level.

This type of workout ensures you’re not starting the next interval too soon. Your heart rate won’t lie – it tells you exactly how hard your body is working to deliver oxygen to your muscles.

Need extra recovery from that last tough interval? Just glance at your heart rate and you’ll know when to start your next repetition.

Recovery Runs: Your shortest run per week – typically the day before or after your long run or a race, isn’t meant to gain fitness. Instead, these strategic runs help you maintain your weekly mileage while being a form of active recovery. So, running too fast is counter-productive but unfortunately, its something almost all of us do. This is an all-important element of your training. Your body needs a period of rest, (less strenuous exercise), to help it recover and allow it to grow accustomed to the rigors you’re putting it through.

Not only are you allowing your body (heart, muscles, connective tissue) to recover, but also your brain. Most of us only think about the physical side of recovery, but the brain needs time to rest as well. Remember, easy runs keep you on point and your enthusiasm high so that you won't mind training hard on the days that matter!

Now, for this example of why using a heart rate monitor is an important part of your training regimen, we concentrated on runners. But by no means is using a heart rate monitor used exclusively for those who run. Any person engaged in vigorous physical activity will benefit from knowing their heart rate during and after they expend their energy.

Those who train for any sport can benefit from using a heart rate monitor, another example of using one during a training session would be those that engage in CrossFit training or HIIT training. Both of these exercise routines engage in intense workouts that push your body to its limits for an intense workout in a short period of time. Knowing what your heart rate is during that workout and also important while you're at rest, can go a long way from knowing your body's limits and when you need to provide that all-important resting period.

Now, choosing a good heart rate monitor is always a matter of personal choice, but our recommendation for those that engage in high-end physical training and take their exercise seriously would be the Garmin Forerunner 935 Multi-Sport GPS Watch. Whether you are a triathlete, trail runner, HIIT fanatic or just a person who wants to get the most out of their workout by knowing your numbers, you cannot pass up on the Forerunner 935xt. Super concise data is an athlete's best friend and with the Forerunner 935, you'll have all of the data you need. Multi-Sport dynamics (Running, Swimming, and Cycling), VO2 Max, wrist-based heart rate, recovery time, race predictor, and more. The 935 also offers you more ways than ever to store and track your data. Use automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, or use Strava live segments to turn every run into a virtual race. The FR935 is truly the most powerful Forerunner ever.

So, there you have it, our version on the "Skinny" on why and how a heart rate monitor works for you by providing you with the necessary information on how well your body is performing during those intense workouts you’re putting it through.

We hope this helps offers some insights on why you should be using a heart rate monitor and if you have any questions, as always, our staff here at are here to help.

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