7 Steps to Using a Heart Rate Monitor
Heart Zones Training with your mind-body link – the heart rate monitor – may seem confusing at first. You’ll be learning and discovering new ways of looking at the effort you put out, new ways of understanding fitness that you were never taught in your physical education classes at school. A lot has happened in the world of fitness in just the last ten years, and with your heart rate monitor and heart zones training, you are ready to reap the benefits.
STEP 1. TAKE THE 24-HOUR EXPERIENCE
To start, simply wear your heart rate monitor continuously for 24 hours so that you can learn to use it as a feedback monitor. See that heart flashing in the face of the watch? That’s your heart actually beat-ing. Stare at the face of the monitor for a couple of minutes. Check to see that every beat at rest is evenly spaced, the heart icon that flashes does so with complete regularity.
Wear your heart rate monitor when you first wake up in the morning and note the number it shows. This is your heart rate at rest or your “resting heart rate.” Notice how your heart rate changes from when you are lying in bed to when you are sitting up and walking around. Check out your heart rate when you are in the middle of your day, sedentary and relaxed. That’s your ambient heart rate. Note what happens if you get excited or stressed – emotionally, not physically. Does your heart rate change?Watch as you move around doing different tasks. Do your regular workout and just observe the movement of the numbers. Get an idea of what the highest reading is during your workout. Is it over 100 beats per minute (bpm) or under? If you made it over 100 bpm, note how long it takes for you to break 100 bpm going back down, by resting after you quit exercising. That’s a measure of how good your recovery heart rate is. After a day of this, you’ll definitely find that your heart rate will increase and decrease as you increase and decrease your efforts or training load.
“You only need two pieces of gear to workout: a good pair of athletic shoes and a heart rate monitor.”
– Sally Edwards
“Training Load” is a key idea. It is, by definition, the amount of F.I.T. you do. What does F.I.T. mean? That acronym stands for frequency, intensity, time, and when all three are put together it’s called training load. Frequency is how often you are exercising. Intensity means how hard you are training (or, as you’ll see, in what heart zones). And time refers to how long you are exercising.
Here’s a bulletin: scientific research now says that it doesn’t matter how long or how frequently you exercise. What most matters is the quality of your workouts, their intensity. The additional good news is that we now know that harder intensity isn’t always better; rather the opposite is often true. Depending on your goals, the easier you go, the more results you may get. In addition, the easier you go at first, the better the odds that you’ll still be exercising on a regular basis after an extended period of time. Those who quit training programs most frequently are those who push themselves into too high a training load. They work out too hard, too long, too often. That’s called burnout. So, go easy and use your heart rate watch to keep you in the lower heart rate ranges when you first start out.
“Depending on your goals, the easier you go, the more results you may get.”
– Sally Edwards
That’s it. You’ve passed your first experience – 24 hours of continuously using your heart rate monitor. After your first 24 hours of cardiac monitoring, you have probably learned a lot about how your heart responds to your different daily activities. You may have also found that your heart rate watch is not only a source of feedback on your physical activities but is also a source of emotional feedback. Did you get angry in traffic or at the television or thrilled by a phone call from a long-missed friend? If so, you may have noticed the effects of emotional stress on your heart rate. In fact, long-time users of heart rate watches often praise these tools just as much for their ability to remind the wearer to stay emotionally calm as for the monitors ability to motivate users to put out their best fitness efforts!
More to come ..
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to release excerpts throughout upcoming weeks. If you want to learn more about zoning, make sure to swing by our online store and grab a copy of ZONING, Fitness in a Blink.