Fitness isn't just about how much you exercise; it's also about how hard you work out. A heart rate monitor serves as your pacer, telling you when to accelerate or slow down to achieve your goals. Consider two factors when choosing the best model for you:
- Monitor Features: The most expensive models are capable of anything. The essential functions are highlighted below. However, there is always more capability being added to devices.
- User notes: They show how an HRM can help a range of people, from those aiming for peak performance to those aiming for weight loss.
- Monitor Type: Most monitors have sensors on a wristband or a chest strap. The most precise heart rate monitors have straps around the chest. In other cases, wrist-only heart rate monitors are more practical.
- Heart rate target zones this is the crucial information that an HRM offers. We demonstrate how to determine yours based on your age and fitness objectives.
See our expert review article for more information on how to decide if a heart rate monitor is the best tool for you, Best Chest Strap Heart-Rate Monitors for 2022
What is a heart rate monitor?
Heart rate monitors can help you attain your goal heart rate safely and effectively without going over your maximum heart rate by measuring your heart rate as you exercise.
Heart rate information may be used to modify your effort level, keep a suitable tempo, and increase your cardiorespiratory endurance. You could eventually be able to maintain higher intensities for longer periods of time while maintaining a lower heart rate.
Some heart rate monitors merely measure your heart rate, while others include records of your pace, distance traveled, and breathing rate.
Types of Heart Rate Monitors
Wrist-based HRMS: Wrist-based HRMS: Your pulse is detected by an optical sensor placed in the watchband or case back of the wrist unit. Although wrist-based variants of heart rate monitor watches are significantly less precise, they do not require chest straps, which can be uncomfortable and cause additional pre-workout hassle. Since wrist-based HRMs may be worn all the time (except while charging), they make it easier to track heart rate in more detail. However, it also aids in sleep and recuperation. The better your device reads your heart rate, the more accurate your recovery times and sleep statistics are.
Chest-strap HRMs: Your heart rate is shown on a wristwatch-style receiver via a wireless receiver on a chest strap that electronically detects your pulse. The chest strap of a heart rate monitor will give you the most accurate heart-rate readings if you get used to wearing it and exercising while wearing it. Some can transmit to riding, computers with GPS. The benefit of this is that you won't need to check your watch as you bike. Additionally, it combines fitness information from Strava, Garmin Connect, and other platforms for fitness software.
Heart Rate Monitor Features
Basic HRM models time your workout and provide continuous, average, high, and low heart rate data in addition to the high, low, and goal heart rates that were attained throughout the activity. A foot pod that fastens to your shoelaces may be used in conjunction with several models to monitor your cadence, speed, and distance.
Other versions feature GPS receivers that can measure distance and speed in addition to providing navigation and elevation data. The most sophisticated (and expensive) versions come with a wide range of functionality that is constantly expanding.
Sport watch: Heart rate monitor watches come with a clock, alarm, countdown timer, and calendar as standard functions.
Stopwatch and lap/split times: Press the "Lap" button after each lap on a track or after each mile on a marked-distance race course to gauge how your pace has altered over the course of your training or competition (a.k.a. your "split").
Target zones: Basic models have up to three target zones, while advanced models have up to six. Your heart rate monitor can be preprogrammed for a variety of workouts because it supports multiple target zones (e.g., anaerobic variations, aerobic, and endurance). You will need to program your HRM every time you wish to alter the training settings if it just has one aerobic goal zone.
Time in target zone: It keeps track of the amount of time you spend working out in your desired zone. Certain zones and objectives call for more time than others.
Recovery heart rate mode: keeps track of how long it takes for your heart to slow down to its regular, resting pace. It's a reliable gauge of cardiovascular health and is crucial if your workouts involve sprints or interval training.
Calorie counter: It calculates how many calories you burn while working out. If you're using your exercises as part of a weight-loss plan, this might be extremely useful.
Speed and distance monitor: It determines the speed and distance traveled during a certain workout. A GPS receiver for outdoor usage or a foot pod for use indoors or in an outdoor region with a spotty satellite connection is commonly used to do this. An accelerometer in a foot pod measures the length of each stride.
Tethering: It wirelessly connects to your smartphone and allows you to handle phone features like text messages, music, push notifications, fitness applications, and social media from your wrist without removing the phone from your pocket or armband.
Digital interface: Set up a connection between your heart rate monitor and your smartphone or home computer so you can download training statistics for analysis, sharing, and storage. This can need a different computer connection or be wifi.
Battery replacement: To make maintenance easier, certain HRM wrist receivers employ user-replaceable or rechargeable batteries.
Sport-specific features: Swimmers may use pool lap counts and stroke recognition, while bikers may use input on speed and cadence.
Fitness trainer: It gives alarms when intensity levels exceed or fall below the training zones you've selected.
Coded transmitter: Crosstalk is prevented by encrypting messages from the wrist unit to the chest strap sensor of the heart rate monitor (signals from other people working out nearby who are using wireless HRMs).
How do I get my heart rate in the target zone?
Do you think you work out too much or not enough? There is an easy way to determine it: your goal heart rate helps you hit the target so you can get the most out of each step, swing, and squat. Knowing your heart rate (or pulse), even if you're not a gym rat or an expert athlete, may help you keep track of your health and fitness level.
Is resting heart rate different by age?
Between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) is considered typical for most of us (adults). Stress, anxiety, hormones, medications, and how physically active you are can all have an impact on the rate. The resting heart rate of an athletic or highly active individual may be as low as 45 beats per minute. That's cool, right?
Lower is preferable when it comes to resting heart rate. It often indicates that your heart muscle is in better shape and doesn't need to work as hard to keep a regular beat. Greater blood pressure, body weight, and a higher resting heart rate have all been associated in studies with decreased physical fitness.
The ability to maintain the ideal heart rate target zone for your particular aim is one of the major advantages of an HRM. Higher-end versions alert you about this via an audible tone or a digital display.
Depending on your maximal heart rate, the goal zone is a percentage range (HR max). Several methods have been created to estimate the HR max. The traditional 220-your-age formula is now viewed as being unreliable for elderly individuals. A more accurate figure is 208, which is 0.7 times your age.
The American Heart Association figure below provides a high-level summary of HR values for goal training zones and average HR max values. More information on estimating your own HR max and how training zones operate can be found in How to Train Using Heart Rate Zones. (It is always advisable to have a stress test performed under the guidance of a physician to determine your true HR max.).
|Range of Target HR Zones||Average HR Max (100%)|
Who Should Use a Heart Rate Monitor?
Note: Before beginning any workout program, talk with your doctor to establish one that is appropriate for your goals and current fitness level.
Injury-rehabilitation patients: HRMs are useful for individuals recovering from an injury or sickness, including a cardiac event, because they provide real-time feedback. Such information can help guarantee that your progressive recovery to full strength and endurance is safe and steady.
Hikers, climbers, and skiers: To better prepare for a peak ascent, use a heart rate monitor.
Weight-loss participants: HRMs aid in regular exercise and a long-term nutrition routine. Most show the number of calories expended during a workout, and many may help you optimize your exercise for optimal fat burning.
Triathletes: Aside from cyclist-related features, certain HRMs measure swim-related statistics such as distance, pace, stroke type/count, and pool length.
Runners: A heart rate monitor helps maintain you in your peak goal zone during tough training days and at your aerobic foundation during gentler sessions.
Cyclists: Whether you ride your bike on a road, trail, or stationary trainer, an HRM can monitor your training progress throughout tempo, interval, and endurance rides. Some models include a cadence sensor or foot pod to provide extra feedback.