Why You Should Train with a Heart Rate Monitor


In 1979 POLAR filed its first patent for wireless heart rate measurement and in 1982, launched the first ever wire-free wearable heart rate monitor, changing the way athletes trained forever.

There are a few things that you want to determine when you have a heart rate monitor:

  1. Your resting heart rate. To do that: 1st thing in the morning, after a restful sleep, put on your monitor, relax for 3-5minutes and then take your heart rate. You want to know this number because as you get fitter, your resting heart rate will be lower.
  2. Your heart rate max (HRmax). The most accurate general equation is HRmax=205.8-0.685(age). You want to know this number so that you can then determine your training zones

What Are HR Zones? We all have a personal resting heart rate, “a minimum heart rate” and a maximum heart rate. And between these values are different heart rate zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit. There are different ways to specify your heart rate zones. Heart rate zones can be defined as percentages of your maximum heart rate. 

Using the analogy of your heart being the engine of your body; the heart rate monitor is the rev-counter on the dash, it tells you how hard you are pushing the engine. Idle is Resting Heart Rate and Maximum RPM is your foot flat on the accelerator doing a jack-rabbit start is Maximum HR. Heart rate zones are closely linked to your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds

Thresholds, what are they? It is complicated, but it has to do with how the body derives/uses its energy from the what is available; these are the points at which the body switches from one energy system to the next; all of the systems share one common trait, they break down “fuel” within the muscle cells to release energy; the 3 systems are: 

a. Anaerobic Alactic System – Energy readily available in the muscles. Fight or Flight power. 

b. Anaerobic Lactic System – Energy from Glucose in the blood stream; peak power 20 – 40 seconds of 2-3min at a high intensity. 

c. Aerobic System – Primarily glucose (sugar) or fat; peak power 3-4minutes, or at any time in longer duration exercise. 

The Aerobic system is always supplying energy, using fat as its source, this what we as sleep, etc. As we ‘up' our intensity, it starts to breakdown Glucose into Pyruvate. Aerobic energy production is the foundation of endurance events, anything lasting more than 3 minutes.

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