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Heart Rate Monitors

Heart rate monitors should be a key piece of fitness equipment in every gym bag. As we know, cardiovascular or aerobic exercising is key to being healthy and fit. These exercises allow us to strengthen the heart and knowing how much harder to push your body can make the difference between real results and wasting time. Heart rate monitors allow you to guage how hard you are working the heart. This is extremely important to know, just as important as having a speedometer in your car so that you know how fast you are driving. A heart rate monitor can act like your personal coach, letting you know the number of times your heart beats per minute and advising whether you need to bump up or down your workout tempo. It can also help an athelete pace him/herself and avoid overtraining.

The first step should be to determine your maximum heart rate. The recommended way of doing this is to get a stress test from your doctor. This test involves doing some type of aerobic exercise (treadmill or stationary bike) and physiological data is collected and analyzed by the doctor. Another method though not as accurate is to subtract your age from 220. The second data point you need is your anaerobic threshold. This is equivalent to the heart rate at which you can run at a constant speed for one hour. It can also be determined through a stress test and usually falls at around 75% of your maximum heart rate.

Heart rate monitors can allow you to train smarter with these two data points. Depending on whether you are in a beginner, intermediate or advanced fitness stage you can train within the ideal spectrum of your anaerobic and maximum heart rates. A beginner should start by building a base that sees them workout at about 60% of their maximum heart rate. Weeks after that you can build up to a point where you are a few percentage points below your anaerobic threshold. Advanced athletes usually build longer aerobic bases, working out for longer periods of time and adding shorter sessions that close in on the anaerobic threshold.

Buying a Heart Rate Monitor

Heart rate monitors come at different price points, with various features, cater to different types of athletes and sports. A common mid range product includes a chest transmitter belt and a wristwatch based display. Common functions apart from displaying your heart rate might include back-lighting, calorie counting, graphing capabilites, stopwatch, distance calculation, maximum and average heart rates, cadence, preset exercise programs, etc. Some higher end monitors even allow you to download the data onto a personal computer for tracking and further analysis. You can also find special products for cycling. Amazon has some excellent heart rate monitors, many with extensive reviews from thousands of users.

Heart rate monitors allow you to personalize your workouts based on exercise science and achieve maximum results from your cardiovascular training.

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