Do you use a heart rate monitor while working out?

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    Feb 18, 2008 4:34 PM GMT
    I'm curious about how many of you wear heart rate monitors at the gym. I just purchased a couple of inexpensive monitors (a basic Nike Triax C3 from Costco, and an Oregon Scientific SE102 from Amazon). So far I like them, and they work with the "Polar Heart Rate Ready" equipment at the gym, so that's a plus. I noticed that I'm usually at 90%+ of my calculated max heart rate while doing cardio, but I don't know how accurate that is since I don't feel too winded. Anyway, I usually take the strap off before doing weights, as it feels a bit cumbersome. Has anyone used heart rate monitors for an extended period of time, and what do you think of them?
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    Feb 18, 2008 4:41 PM GMT
    Yes, I've used one for years. Very little has helped make my workouts as efficient. I use it during lifting too, because if I can elevate my HR to the aerobic zone, it means less time on the boring cardio machines.
  • NYCguy74

    Posts: 311

    Feb 18, 2008 4:45 PM GMT
    I've had a polar one for a couple years, mostly use it for cardio.
    I have run into a couple problems where my "neighbor" has one also, and it was counting both heart beats so the machine was reading well over 200.
    I like it because you don't have to hold on to the sensors, plus i like to row, and those don't have built in monitors. and if i decide to run outside, it's the best.

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    Feb 18, 2008 4:46 PM GMT
    I don't use one in the gym, but then I don't do cardio indoors. I do use one when I run or bike.

    Overall using them with the presets of cardio equipment is a waste of time. Everyone's max heart rate is different. To really get much out of a monitor you need to figure out what the range is for you 5 heart rate zones and then program the HRM specifically for you. Complicating this is that fact that the zones will change based on activity. So in my case biking and running involve different settings. In addition the more you workout your zones will change so you need to retest your zones every so often.

    In short they can be really helpful for certain types of training, and kind of bunk for others. There is a really good book by Joe Friel called "Total Heart Rate Training" that goes into a great amount of detail on how to get the most out of a HRM.
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    Feb 18, 2008 5:03 PM GMT
    I use my polar f6 for all my cardio. It's supposed to be part of our uniform for teaching group fitness...for cardio classes specifically. Again, I use mine for all cardio except for martial arts. Along with knowing my anaerobic threshold, it gives me an idea of whether I'm burning fat/sugar or primarily sugars, ie, aerobic or anaerobic.

    Kev
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    Feb 20, 2008 2:19 PM GMT
    Yep, I use a Polar monitor every day at the gym for my cardio. Best $100 I ever spent -- it helped me lose more weight than I'm willing to admit to in public! icon_smile.gif
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    Feb 20, 2008 8:50 PM GMT
    I have a Timex with the chest monitor. It has worked well so far. I would recommend it if you want to keep your heart rate in the zone.
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    Feb 20, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    I've used both the Nike Triax and a Polar monitor. I particularly like the Polar function that allows me to set a cardio goal for the week and sub-goals for each of my target heart rate zones. This is going to sound really stupid, but I'm willing to work hard to get the little trophy icon that shows up on Monday morning if I hit my goal for the previous week. The Polar is waterproof and can be used in the pool--I loved my Nike monitor, but they wouldn't guarantee anything past "sweat resistant."
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    Feb 22, 2008 1:37 PM GMT
    I use the Mio strapless monitor. It's great as I don't have to deal with that clunky chest strap, and it looks like an ordinary watch. The only bad thing about it is that you have to place two fingers on it for a few seconds, so I can't use it while rowing unless I take a pause.

    And, it's ECG accurate which is great, with no chance of interference from "neighbors."

    Check it out here: http://www.miowatch.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=533
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    Feb 23, 2008 5:28 PM GMT
    Yep, I use a Polar HR monitor when I teach indoor cycling and when I am on the road. I keep it on when I do my weight work as it is helpful to track activity levels throughout the workout. I think they are a good investment. I also agree that using the standard 220-age calculation for Max HR is only a rough estimate of where you want to work (as you calculate your ranges off of that), but it is a great place to start if you are getting a feel for appropriate ranges.
    For you elite athletes, you (maybe with your trainer) have done the resting HR correction and honed in on your personal levels providing you with the best estimates of where to work. We know that as you get in better cardio shape, the ranges will change and you will find you can expand the range quite a bit and recover effectively. But for everyday gym folks wanting to make sure they are effectively using their cardio workouts, I would highly recommend it. Polar monitors can have the cross-talk issue with your neighbor, so be aware of it. Have fun! icon_smile.gif
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    Feb 23, 2008 8:09 PM GMT
    I wear my Polar F6 at the gym, and while biking. It's a good way of keeping track of my goals, and making sure I'm not slacking.
  • FredMG

    Posts: 988

    Feb 24, 2008 7:02 AM GMT
    I don't just wear mine at the gym, I use it when I'm hiking and cycling. Especially if I've got my road bike up on the trainer. I also used it the other day when I walked the 3 miles to work. Not that I got into a good cardio zone walking, but the one I use (Polar F4) counts calories, which I find motivating. especially when I've been on the bike trainer and I'm close to achieving the next "100" calories I can push on and make a 540 calorie workout a 600 calorie work out.

    What I like about my HRM:
    1. it's basic it tells me :
    --calories burned
    --beats per minute or percent of maximum
    --total workout time
    --time I spent in my cardio zone
    --average heart beats per minute

    2. it keeps me from slacking
    3. I can push myself, or focus on machines where I can maintain a good heart rate.

    What I don't like about it:
    1. the buttons are kind of stiff.

    I've learned that if I really stay focused during strength training I can maintain about 70% of my maximum HRM (which is at the low end of cardio) and burn about 600 calories an hour. If nothing else, I know I burned off that sandwich I had before the gym.
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    Feb 24, 2008 11:36 PM GMT
    I have been heart rate training since I was sixteen, so I guess almost four years now. I started it because I was taking several Spinning classes a week and desired a more definite way to know where my efforts were. It revolutionized my training then, and continues to now. I can set out on a run or ride with a specific heart rate range in mind and make sure I am there, or close.

    I have the Polar F6. I'm on my second one--- the first one's wrist band broke, but should they discontinue it soon, I'll replace this one in the future with whatever model follows it up.

    I like:
    -Knowing my workout time.
    -Being able to set my personal max heart rate.
    -Being able to see my heart rate either as a precise number or as a percentage depending on my purpose.
    -Seeing a general estimation of my caloric expenditure.
    -Seeing a diary summation of my weekly workouts. It's a good feeling.

    Patrick
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    Feb 24, 2008 11:38 PM GMT
    Heart Rate monitor sometimes ... and the Bodybugg all the time ...
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    Feb 24, 2008 11:49 PM GMT
    A heart rate monitor? yea, I use my index and middle fingers to palpate my carotid artery...best one out there icon_razz.gif
  • mercuryrunner

    Posts: 3

    Feb 25, 2008 12:34 AM GMT
    I am a regular wearer of a monitor. As a 10K / Half Marathoner / Marathoner, my training pace is critical in maximizing my training. There are "steady state runs", which are different from "tempo" runs and the easy days have to be just that, in order to adequately recover. All of this, of course is based on knowing exactly what your Maximum Heart Rate is. All workouts are a percentage of that MHR. This can be determined in an Exercise Physiology Lab or checking out websites like Runners World Magazine, who offer various ways to calculate it. Forget those old formulas like 220 - your age. They are usually way off! In time, you will come to rely more on a "perceived exertion" scale as a good substitute for the monitor, but it's nice to throw on the strap every once in a while to double-check.
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    Feb 25, 2008 12:43 AM GMT
    I use an F6 like many others mentioned here. I'm wondering what the rest of you find its life expectancy is. I have to buy a new one every 12 to 18 months.
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    Feb 25, 2008 12:49 AM GMT
    I have a Sportline watch, that does heart rate without a belt. I have looked at it intermittently, but I am not systematic at it, like all of you above in the thread.

    Years of training as a distance runner schooled me in learning pace/aerobic/anaerobic thresholds etc.

    John
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    Feb 25, 2008 1:09 AM GMT
    zarin saidI wear my Polar F6 at the gym, and while biking. It's a good way of keeping track of my goals, and making sure I'm not slacking.



    I do too have a F& polar.. just for a month ago, i descover that i was overtarinng io mean i use to be 99% for 50min, i alwasy be tired and stared to feel the heartbeat litlle painful, but with my polar i now have 60% 10 min, 0%10min 90%20 aguin 70%5min and 60% 5 min,, to anD i bur up to 660 kcals almost on an hour and got enoghut energy to work on dumbells (witthout the polar)
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    Feb 25, 2008 12:03 PM GMT
    cardio training I own a Polar, Sorry petty that BBC 24/7 Prague, can' t borrow you one while work out, they can make also problem if you are using a bouncing medicine ball icon_sad.gif
  • fitone

    Posts: 276

    Feb 25, 2008 12:31 PM GMT
    i've been using the same polar strap for several years. it really helped in that prior to using it i felt if i pushed as hard as i could i was doing fine. found out i was way over my target rate which is claimed to burn muscle rather than fat. i still work out on the top end of the cardio target, but at least don't go over it.
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    Feb 25, 2008 12:41 PM GMT
    I use the polar t-55 transmitter strap when I'm on cardio only - have worn it for the workout with the wrist monitor and it didn't tell me anything new ~ I work hard & fast and my rate stays up.

    But the cardio machines, especially the newer ones we have from Techno-Gym really work well with the monitor.

    J.
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    Mar 10, 2008 10:26 PM GMT
    i'm going to start wearing one tonight, because i keep getting nauseated when i do plyometrics and my trainer wants to know what bpm i'm at when i start getting pasty faced
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    Apr 20, 2008 6:04 PM GMT
    Just got a Nike Triax too. It's my first one, and seemed to be on the more expensive end in the market. I realize after many failed attempts, I cannot know that I am in the right HR zone, and most likely I am not.

    One day though, I'll be confident enough to throw the monitor away and do it the old school way like bcpm. That's hardcore! icon_cool.gif
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    Apr 20, 2008 8:57 PM GMT
    Just got an Edge 705 w Heart Rate for my bike. It's amusing, basically confirming what I already knew. When I bike, my HR jumps to about 160-180 bpm, stays there, then falls to less than 100bpm within 3 minutes of stopping exercising. I also laugh when my HR correlates to elevation -- duh, when I climb I work harder than when I'm flying down a hill.

    Also, being told that I burned 3000 calories in a little over 2 hours made me hungry.

    The nice thing about HR monitors is that they are continuous and you can see how your heart ramps up when you exercise and returns to normal afterwards. That's the way to judge physical fitness. What it doesn't tell you is the morphology of the signal and how healthy your heart is.

    I would think that taking my pulse rather than holding on to the handlebars while I'm biking just isn't that good of an idea.

    As for wearing a HR monitor in the gym, since I go to the gym to lift heavy things, I don't see the point. Lifting is not an aerobic activity, and at least some people hypothesize that caloric burn happens after each set rather than during each set, the monitor would just get in the way.