Heart rate monitor; is it for you?

By: Falon Sweeney

Could wearing a heart rate monitor take your workout to the next level?

Whether you’ve taken only a few spin classes or you’ve logged some serious hours in the saddle, you’ve undoubtedly realized much of what a spin workout has to offer—it’s a great alternative to high-impact exercises like running, you love having the ability to tailor the workout to your own personal needs, and you end each class drenched in sweat. The list goes on. But do you ever wonder at what point your body goes from working hard to hardly working? For some of us, using our rate of perceived exertion (the scale used to approximate how hard you’re working) to measure our sweat is good enough. But for others who are seeking to know more about their body’s performance, a great option is to wear a heart rate monitor.

After I had been spinning consistently for a few months, I got to the point where I wanted to take the guesswork my workouts. One thing was for certain—I’d sweat like a dog—but I wanted to know what part of the ride worked me the hardest. Was it the hills, sprints, or jumps, or did they work me all the same? I also wanted to know my physical limits so that I could better decipher whether it was it my mind or my body craving during that final sprint set. Bottom line, I wanted to know how hard I was working so that I could push my workout to the next level and get as much out of my sixty minutes in saddle as I could. What’s more, I’m a skeptic—I never trust readings on cardio machines or the average calories burned for any activity. I needed something to quantify my results while improving my fitness. After doing a fair amount of research, I decided on the Polar FT4. I wanted something simple and easy to use that would give me an accurate reading of my heart rate and calories burned. I’ve worn it during nearly all of my workouts for five months and counting and I can honestly say it is one of the best fitness investments I’ve made.

Of course, wearing a heart rate monitor is only one way to improve your personal fitness, as it keeps you in the know about your body during a workout. Improvement is difficult to quantify and can only truly be measured by the way you feel physically and mentally. So heart rate monitor or not, do continue to challenge yourself and keep your intensity moving with the flow of the class and the beat of the music. Remember that it’s not only about a little number on your wrist, but how far you’ve come since yesterday.

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