How to use a Heart Rate Monitor effectively
Effectively - Use the Zones
If you are a beginner with
the goal of improving overall fitness, losing weight or reducing stress, exercise in the
healthy heart zone which is 50-60 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Make sure only 10-15 percent of your time is in this zone. If you spend more
time you are likely to get injured and the quality of the workout will suffer. It will also take
you longer to recover. If you do overtrain, take a week of easy training with
no zone 4 or zone 5 workouts.
Train sparingly at these upper
limits. Exercising regularly at a heart rate intensity that is too high does not produce
additional aerobic benefits and increases the possibility of an athletic injury. Interval
training and anaerobic threshold workouts require a high degree of fitness, and is not
necessary for general fitness training.
- If you already exercise regularly
but are aiming to lose body fat, exercise in the weight management zone which is 60-70
percent of maximum heart rate. Build up to a work out of an hours continuous exercise.
- If your goal is to improve aerobic
capacity or athletic performance, exercise in the aerobic zone which is 70-80 percent of
maximum heart rate.
- Competitive athletes may need to
add interval training sessions during the week in the anaerobic threshold heart rate zone,
which is 80-90 percent of maximum. This high intensity exercise helps train muscles to
handle lactic acid.
Once you determine your individual
training zones, you can easily program them into your Cardiosport or Polar heart rate monitor. Your heart
monitor will notify you with a beep if you are exercising above or below the
pre-programmed zones. Many Cardiosport models record heart rate at selectable intervals.
You can then evaluate your exercise after each session and adjust your intensity if
needed. Recording heart rate also allows you to monitor your fitness improvements over
on Effective Training:
- Warm up & cool down. Always
do a slow warm up of 5-10 minutes, followed by some gentle stretching. Then gradually
climb into the target range you have set. End every workout with a 5-10 minute cool down,
again followed by some gentle stretching. The importance of this can not be over
emphasised. Studies have shown that people who warm up and cool down adequately have fewer
- Type of Exercise. Choose activities that use large muscle
groups and which are continuous in nature. Some good examples are walking, swimming,
running, aerobic dance, stair climbing machines, ski machines, treadmills, cycling or
exercise bikes. Feel free to include more than one activity - cycle one day, swim the
next, and do aerobics on the third. This is called Cross Training and helps exercise all
muscle groups, reduces boredom and keeps motivation high.
- Frequency of exercise. Exercise in the target range that you have set at least 3-5
times per week, with no more than 48 hours between sessions. Even on 'rest days' gentle
exercise such as a leisurely walk can be beneficial.
- Intensity of exercise. Select an
exercise intensity zone that is both within your capability and in which you can achieve
consistency. Studies show that people who exercise at too high an intensity, especially in
the initial stages of their programme, drop out sooner, have more injuries, and tend to
develop a negative impression towards exercise in general. If necessary start in a low
exercise intensity zone and build up.
Time exercising. Aim for
20-60 minutes of continuous exercise in your target zone each session. If you are unable
to exercise for 20 minutes initially, slow down and gradually build up to this.
Before you begin
your exercise program, get an assessment of your overall fitness level. You must get
clearance from your doctor that it is safe for you to exercise.