What is heart rate training and why is it important?

Measuring your heart rate during exercises is important – it lets you know the intensity/effort level you’re exercising at and the physiological changes happening in your body. Once you know your heart rate training zones, you know exactly what your heart rate needs to be to train in line with your goals.

Why should you be checking your heart rate?

There are two main reasons you should be recording your heart rate and using heart rate training zones. One is to ensure you’re exercising safely, and the other is to gauge exactly how much progress you’re making!

Measuring your heart rate allows you to keep your exercise safe. You don’t want to put too much strain on your heart while working out, which is easy to do if you’re not monitoring your heart rate. We’ll talk about heart rate zones in-depth later in this blog post, so you can see exactly which levels are ‘safe’ for you to be working in.

Recording your heart rate during exercise also allows you to check your progress. Keeping tabs on how you’re doing is very important on the road to achieving your goals! If you’re consistently not reaching your heart rate zones, you know you’re not pushing hard enough. This will only lead to very slow progress or no progress at all!

Do you need a heart rate monitor?

The easiest way to measure your heart rate during exercise or at rest is with a heart rate monitor. Just pop it on, and voila! Your heart rate will be there on the screen, and you can monitor it at any point during exercise. Heart rate monitors are usually found in two forms – chest straps or wrist monitors.

Which type should you choose?

There are pros and cons to both wrist and chest heart rate monitors. We’ll start with chest monitors – as the name suggests, it’s a strap that fits around your chest with a small electrode pad that sits on your skin. This pad measures the electrical activity in your heart, through the sweat on your skin.

Chest strap heart monitors tend to be highly accurate – they measure your electrical activity very near to your heart, as opposed to a wrist strap that is focusing on blood flow further from your heart. Newer models of chest straps often link to other wearables or mobile apps so that you can see the output easily.

One of the big cons of chest straps is comfort – it’s not usually easy to wear a chest strap heart monitor all day, as you’ll usually end up chafing. Due to this, people using chest straps tend to only wear them during exercise, and not throughout the rest of the day.

Wrist-based heart monitors work in a different way to chest straps. Instead of using electrical impulses, they use a process called ‘PPG’, or photoplethysmography. On the bottom of most wrist-based fitness trackers is an LED that emits light. This light bounces off the blood flowing under your skin, and another sensor in your watch collects this data and gives you your heart rate. Because they’re collecting data further from your actual heart, and because light can easily be disrupted, wrist monitors can be less accurate than chest straps – usually at higher effort levels. They’re easier to wear all day, so you can just pop it on, sleep in it and have a constant log of your heart rate.

We recommend that a heart rate monitor is better than none, but if you’re going to go for one go for a wristband. This way, you’ll get heart-rate monitoring along with workout tracking and sleep tracking. If you want to be very in-depth during your endurance training, you should grab a chest strap too. It’ll more accurately track your workouts, meaning your coach will be able to give you better advice.

Can I check my heart rate zones with no fitness monitor?

Yes! It’s still simple to do; it just takes a little more effort than using a fitness monitor. Place two fingers on your wrist, below your thumb. Count your heartbeat for 10 seconds, then multiply this by 6. This is your current heart rate in beats per minute (BPM).

Why should you be checking your heart rate?

There are two main reasons you should be recording your heart rate and using heart rate training zones. One is to ensure you’re exercising safely, and the other is to gauge exactly how much progress you’re making!

Measuring your heart rate allows you to keep your exercise safe. You don’t want to put too much strain on your heart while working out, which is easy to do if you’re not monitoring your heart rate. We’ll talk about heart rate zones in-depth later in this blog post, so you can see exactly which levels are ‘safe’ for you to be working in.

Recording your heart rate during exercise also allows you to check your progress. Keeping tabs on how you’re doing is very important on the road to achieving your goals! If you’re consistently not reaching your heart rate zones, you know you’re not pushing hard enough. This will only lead to very slow progress or no progress at all!

Now you know the ‘why’, we’ll teach you the ‘how’. Head to our next article, and we’ll tell you how to work out your personal heart rate zones, and how to measure your effort levels without using your heart rate at all!