Do you feel like your cardio routine is "too easy"? Maybe you are pushing yourself too hard and you cannot get through an entire workout? These thoughts frequently haunt fitness enthusiasts’ minds leaving us to wonder how we can monitor the intensity of our workouts. Heart rate monitors are becoming a popular fitness tool to track the intensity of each individual workout. A heart rate monitor can increase the effectiveness of your workout by allowing you to understand precisely how hard your body is working during each interval of training.
This popular gadget maximizes workouts by creating a simple formula to gauge the ideal training pace for each user. By monitoring your heart rate you can tell whether you need to increase your workout’s intensity, or slow it down. The best heart rate monitors on the market help you intensify your cardio workout without making you want to give up. As they increase in popularity, they are becoming equipped with better features and are becoming more diverse in the marketplace. Using a heart rate monitor is simple and beneficial, and with the variety of styles and sizes on the market there is an ideal option for everyone.
- 1 How to Use a Heart Monitor
- 2 Benefits of Using a Heart Rate Monitor
- 3 The Different Types of Heart Rate Monitors
- 4 How to Choose the Best Heart Rate Monitor
- 5 Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor
- 6 Scosche RHYTHM + Heart Rate Monitor
- 7 Polar A360 Fitness Tracker with Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
How to Use a Heart Monitor
Heart rate monitors act like a coach to athletes because they help you determine whether your heart rate is going too fast or slow for your workout. To achieve appropriate intensity you need to know how to correctly use a heart rate monitor.
The first thing to do after buying a heart rate monitor is to determine your heart rate reference point, or your Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR). Some newer devices can determine this number for you, although it is not difficult to find this number on your own. Devices such as the Garmin vivoactive will put you through a short and simple workout to find your FTHR.
Once you have this number, you need to determine your target heart rate for your workout and your specific workout goals. This will vary by what type of workout you doing. There are many target heart rate charts floating around on the internet, but here is one example:
- A 27-year-old taking a spinning class is aiming for a heart rate between 143-163 to gain strength, and a heart rate between 124-143 to gain endurance.
Again, most modern-day heart rate monitors can determine this number for you. Some even will alert you when your heart rate is too high, or when your activity level is too low.
Benefits of Using a Heart Rate Monitor
Optimizes your workout - Using a heart rate monitor is the best way to improve your workouts and actually see a difference. A HRM will tell you the intensity of you workout and you can adjust your workout accordingly. Some heart rate monitors will even coach you to work harder and motivate you todo better.
Helps Keep your Workouts Safe - When your heart rate is too high for too long you are at risk of not being able to maintain the intensity . When you are aware of your actual heart rate during a workout you can prevent cardio overload.
Tracks progress - When you don’t monitor your heart rate, you rely on your feelings during exercise. Some heart rate monitors even track your weekly workouts and give you objective data. There are a lot of helpful monitoring apps that work directly with heart rate monitors. These apps give users a visual platform to see their progress, and they can also give you suggestions to better help you reach your fitness goals.
The Different Types of Heart Rate Monitors
There are many factors to consider when you purchase a heart rate monitor. Heart RateMonitors come in many different styles these days. Heart rate monitors come in wristbands, armbands, and chest straps. A lot of HRM’s allow personalization by having a replaceable band with many different color options. Modern-day heart rate monitors can connect with many different devices using Bluetooth and are compatible with popular fitness apps.
How to Choose the Best Heart Rate Monitor
You want to formulate goals before buying a heart rate monitor so you can choose the best model for what you are trying to achieve. Because there are many different types of models on the market it would be best to create a list of which features you are going to be using the most. The first question you should ask yourself is whether you prefer a wristband or a chest strap device. Wristbands are becoming a more popular choice, and most athletes find wristbands more comfortable and convenient.However, chest heart rate monitors will give you a more accurate reading. Heart rate monitors have come a long way and they can be equipped with many different features. It’s up to you to decide whether the price tag is worth the extra features. Some features to consider are:
Calorie Counter- Convenient for someone tracking his or her burned calories vs. calorie intake.
Target Heart Rate Zones - Basic models usually offer 3 zones whereas advanced models can offer up to six. This is great for people who participate in several different exercise routines with different heart rate target zones (cycling, rowing, running etc.) and do not wish to reprogram their HRM constantly.
Speed and Distance Monitor - Some HRM’s use GPS to monitor your distance during a workout.
Watch and Stopwatch - Why wear two different devices on your arm to achieve the same goal?
Recovery Heart Rate Indicator - This is an important feature for sprinters and for people who do a lot of interval training.
Removable Bands - Some HRM’s have removable bands allowing users to customize their HRM’s. Being able to remove the band and wash it is also important for athletes who sweat a lot.
Type of Battery - Some people prefer disc batteries that last up to three years instead of rechargeable batteries that last for a day or two.
Fitness Trainer - Will alert users when their heart rate is above or below the target heart rate zone.
These are just some of the features to consider while you are shopping for a heart rate monitor. Most heart rate monitors have a one-color display while others have a brilliant display of colors on their interface, and others do not have a display interface at all. For people who like to stay connected, newer models will offer tethering with a compatible cell phones so you will never miss a text or social media alert while working out.
I personally use a heart rate monitor on runs to help me pace my workout. If I set off to fast and my heart rate is to high, I know the current pace is not maintainable. My heart rate monitor and along with my hydration pack allow me to complete long runs at a paced level without needing to stop. Below we have reviewed the top heart rate monitors on the market.
Garmin Vivoactive HR
We can’t think of a single feature this HR monitor doesn’t come with. The Garmin Vivoactive is a smartwatch that combines every possible feature on a stylish wristband. We found that it was easy to read in the sun and at night, making it usable virtually anywhere. The Garmine Vivoactive comes with a higher price tag than your most basic heart rate monitor–but in our opinion it’s worth it. The information is jam packed into this incredibly small and lightweight watch.
- Built-in sports apps that work with GPS to track distance, calories burned,and there is even a golf feature that maps courses and analyzes your stroke. Unlike most HRMs, the Garmin tracks activity in the pool as well as on the track.
- Customizable face designs from the Garmin app.
- Connects with your smartphone to give you objective feedback about your workout.
- Connection to apps and smartphones is spotty, sometimes taking a longtime to load.
- Low battery life. The Garmin Vivoactive comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts about 10 hours when it’s running GPS.
Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor
The Wahoo Tickr HRM is a chest strap model that provides accurate heart rate readings and comes in three different price ranges based on your fitness needs. We tried the most expensive choice so we could test out all of the features. We found this HRM to have the most accurate readings, which is the main benefit of a chest strap monitor. The Wahoo Tickr works directly with Apple Watch for real-time capabilities. It also has Bluetooth abilities to connect to smartphones and GPS devices. Small LED lights easily show you when you’re connected to a device and when it is reading your heartbeat.
- Chest sensor allows for accurate real-time monitoring.
- Long battery life. The Tickr uses a replaceable disc battery.
- Easy set up–is useable right out of the box.
- The compatible app doesn’t allow you to add distance to treadmill or indoor cycling workouts.
- Chest band is hard to wash.
Scosche RHYTHM + Heart Rate Monitor
This forearm monitor connects to your smartphone and uses an app to manage your ideal workout intensity. It works with tons of apps, so if you already have a favorite app you don’t want to move away from this would be a great HRM for you. We appreciated the simple and basic design of the Scosche. If you love simple technology this heart rate monitor should be your first choice.
- Compatible with a lot of different apps.
- Straightforward and easy-to-use.
- The battery life lasts a long time for a rechargeable device.
- Sorry swimmers, this device is not waterproof.
- Band gets damp easily and takes a long time to dry.
Polar A360 Fitness Tracker with Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
The Polar A360 is a wristband monitor with a sleek design that tracks and monitors every workout. We enjoyed the speed and distance stats on the colorful display screen when you’re walking or running. ThePolar A360 also calculates your body’s appropriate caloric intakes and estimates how many you have burned throughout the day. This tracker connects with any Bluetooth compatible device and easily connects to any smartphone. The Polar A360 alerts you when you have incoming emails, texts, and calls,allowing you to workout away from your mobile device.
- Inactivity alerts allows you to meet your daily activity goals that you can program into the device.
- Silicone wristband allows the Polar A360 to be waterproof without having to wait for your band to dry.
- Tells you how you can achieve your daily goals. If you have met 20% of your fitness goals for the day the Polar A360 will tell you that you need to run X amount of minutes, or walk X amount of minutes to reach your daily goal.
- The band has a hard time staying closed and we noticed that the interface is extremely easy to pop out.
- Like a lot of Activity trackers they can sometimes seem a little inaccurate and pick up when you moving your arm around.
- Low battery life. The Polar A360 comes with a USB charger that connects to your computer but the charge only lasts for 1-2 days.
Heart rate monitors are great if you are looking to optimize your fitness goals and monitor your workout intensity. With many different options available, you can choose from the most basic heart rate monitors to the most beastly ones on the market. When you begin to monitor your heart rate you will be astonished at how fast you start reaching your goals. Using objective information from a monitor,charting your results, and utilizing smartphone apps is more efficient than tailoring your workout by how you feel. Whether you are building up endurance or speed, heart rate monitoring will forever change the way you work out.