Monday, October 18, 2010

Heart rate Monitors

So it's time for me to resurrect this blog, I am about a month into my new job as a personal trainer at Xsport Fitness and my schedule is a little less crazy (still seven days a week though.) Anyway, I have been learning a lot at this job (both what to do and what not to do) partially from the week of training they give to new PTs and partially from keeping my eyes and ears opened when I am at my gym. In this post there is one thing that I want to share, it has completely changed the way I view exercise, whether it is my own personal workouts or the workouts I put my clients on. I am talking about heart rate monitors.
    Would you feel safe, or even the least bit confident if you drove a car with no dashboard? With no speedometer to tell you how fast you were going, no fuel gage to tell you how much fuel you have left, and no warning lights to tell you if something was wrong. Chances are you wouldn't feel safe going above 25mph and even then you would be uncomfortable. With no feedback from your engine, driving is a very dangerous activity. Well guess what, your heart is the engine of your body, and without getting feedback working out can be just as dangerous (not to mention ineffective.) Don't think of a heart rate monitor as a fancy toy, like I used to, but as a necessary tool that gets you to your goals quickly and effectively.
    The fact is, many people opt out of using HRM because they simply cannot see any visible effects from a healthy heart! This is trivial fitness at its best, and it is sad to see how many people buy into it. The truth is, having a healthy and efficient heart will power you through intense workouts. So even if you goal is to get bigger, leaner, faster, or stronger having a strong heart will get you there AND KEEP YOU THERE where as a weak heart may get you half way there then give up on you, and the results you did get will quickly fade away.
    When choosing a hear rate monitor make sure it has the following features: (1) Calories Burned – this is crucial, cause whether you are trying to gain or lose calories play a huge part in that. Many cardio machines that give you an estimate are, in fact, so far off that it's not even funny. And I have yet to find a weight machine that can tell you how many calories you burned in three sets of ten. (2) Heart rate zones – hear rate zones are different for every person, that is why you need a device that is personalized to you. If you do not know about the heart rate zones here is a quick summary: Zone 1 is your fat and sugar burning zone, usually referred to as the warm up/cool down zone. Zone 2 is your fat burning zone; people who need to large amounts of weight zone should spend most of their workout in this zone. Zone 3 is your cardio zone, and your primary source of energy will come from carbohydrates (that's why carbs are important.) Being in this zone will give your heart a true cardio workout, just make sure you recover back to zone 1 after about 5-10 mins depending on your fitness level. (3) Weekly goals – A HRM that not only tell you what you are doing but what you should be doing is a must. Many HRM have a feature that, depending on your goals, will actually build a program that tells you how long you need to work out each week, how many calories you need to burn, and how long you need to be in each zone. (4) VO2 Max test – simply put your VO2 max is the amount of oxygen your lungs can intake when you inhale, this is another critical feature that your HRM must have.
    There are many hear rate monitors out there, and as long as they meet the criteria above you really cannot go wrong. I happen to use a polar heart rate monitor, the FT60 to be exact; I really love this model because it gives everything you need in HRM without being overly expensive.
    So before you begin any sort of program, make sure you have the right tools to get you where you need to be.

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