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Heart Rate monitors....

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So, been thinking about getting one. But the more I research, the more confused I get. Any Bears use them and can recommend a good one? Dont think I need one of the high end super computer types, but would like to get a decent value. TIA.


Glenn
post #2 of 17
Others may disagree, but, save your money.
Unless you and your buddies are having heart rate races there pretty much worthless
post #3 of 17
SAC always has deals on them
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by loboskis View Post
Others may disagree, but, save your money.
Unless you and your buddies are having heart rate races there pretty much worthless
That's kind of a curious statement. I use a HRM and have found it effective. Others use them and find them confusing- I guess it depends on what your goals are or what your intended use is.

With that I highly suggest you take a look at the Timex HRM's. Our team is fortunate enough to have them as a sponsor and my personal experience is that they are FAR more intuitive (easy to use) than the Polar I owned previously. (Honest opinion, I'd much rather have bought a Timex as compared to the Polar I did purchase). Good luck with your purchase!
post #5 of 17
I use one during my indoor workouts (spinning classes at the gym mostly). Mine's just a simple one; I look at it occassionally to verify that I'm not slacking off when I'm suppossed to be going hard or that I am really "taking it easy" when I'm suppossed to be taking it easy, etc.

You do need some general idea of what your "zones" are. There are some general formulas (220 - age = maximum HR), but those are completely worthless. There are scientific ways of determining what your true max HR is; I just went crazy one day and watched my HR climb to some stratospheric number and called that my max. I work based off that number. There are definitely more accurate (and safer !) ways, but hey, that way is free.

I use a Timex HR as well. The batteries are user-replaceable, which (the last time I looked) can't be said about the Polar units.
post #6 of 17
Glenn,

What do you want to use it for?

Quote:
Originally Posted by loboskis View Post
Others may disagree, but, save your money.
Unless you and your buddies are having heart rate races there pretty much worthless
Ok, I'll bite and disagree. Sort of. Statements like this remind me of the old Mark Twain saying "Cold! If the thermometer had been an
inch longer we'd have frozen to death." When I hear someone say something like that's it's obvious they don't know how to use the tool in front of them.

Heart rate monitors are great, for telling you your heart rate. Now how that relates to you, takes time, knowledge and experience to figure out. I've used my old polar for years. I don't need it to tell me when I'm in "the zone", I know that. Where it's most useful is know when your above or below a target heart rate. These are particularly useful as indicators of overtraining or overexertion in and between workouts. HRM's are also very useful when trying determine power at a particular heartrate (which is the real key).

For a good read on both power meters and heart rate monitors read the following...

http://www.midweekclub.ca/articles/coggan.pdf
post #7 of 17
I use one when I ride my bikes. I love it because it confirms my exertion and like someone said before, it tells me when I am being a slacker. They are great for training at a certain output for a certain period of time. I usually chart it on Excel to see progress or the lack there of. I use a low end polar and it does the job. It doubles as a spedometer and travel log as well.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by loboskis View Post
Others may disagree, but, save your money.
Unless you and your buddies are having heart rate races there pretty much worthless
I'll play devil's advocate to other reactions here and basically agree with this.

Perceived exertion has been shown to be a reliable correlate of being "in the zone", and there are numerous studies demonstrating that an increase in respiratory rate is a good marker for anaerobic threshold.

So, if you're into simply listening to your body, perceived exertion and respiratory rate are adequate training tools, along with keeping a journal of your both your waking and resting heart rate (during the day) to monitor fatigue.

If you want to be really tech, buy a heart rate monitor, but if you're going to embark on data based training, IMO a heart rate monitor is relatively useless without knowing your watts (power output) and doing post workout & cool down lactates. A good lactate monitor is $400 .
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdistefa View Post
Perceived exertion has been shown to be a reliable correlate of being "in the zone", and there are numerous studies demonstrating that an increase in respiratory rate is a good marker for anaerobic threshold.
I agree, however the ability to measure one's perceived exertion against a tangible number is beneficial. I often ride free of electronics (computer and HRM) because it's too easy to get caught up in the average speed, heart rate, distance, etc when your just out tooling around for fun- especially off road.

I guess without knowing what the intended use is, it's hard to say how beneficial a HRM would be. If you are training, or trying to measure any type of output, the electronics won't change your fitness levels, but they will help to confirm the results. Further if you are training, then I'm not sure how you can do so effectively without some type of monitoring.
post #10 of 17
Polar has several models that range in price from about $50-$400+. Bought my GF one for her spinning class, she loves it.
post #11 of 17
I bought a New Balance HRM on SAC about 5 or 6 weeks ago for my wife. It doesn't really work worth a damn, but I guess for $35 its an ok watch.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for the replies, both for and against.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Glenn,

What do you want to use it for?
My primary purpose of my off-season workouts is to shed some weight with a secondary goal of improved cardio. I know that some of the cardio will come with the accomplishment of the weight loss, but once I have reached my target weight, I would like to swap these and concentrate on improving cardio while maintaining a healthy weight.

I guess my main interesting in the HRM would be to make sure I am staying at an optimal heart rate for burning fat. From what I have read, you need maintain a certain percent of your max heart rate for a specific amount of time. While I have a "decent" idea that I am doing this right now, I think that having an HRM would help me ensure that I am accomplishing this. Am I off base on that assumption?

Glenn
post #13 of 17
I used to use a Sigma Sport HR monitor along with the cadence attachment on my stationary cycle trainer.

It is useful for cycling training videos, when you are trying to keep your HR "in the zone," at a certain cadence (rpm) and a specific resistance level.

Some of the monitors, even the cheaper ones, will let you know your average HR and cadence. These figures can be useful if you are tracking your progress over time.

Now its been sitting in my desk drawer for at least a year.:

Thats what having babies does to a guy I guess.
post #14 of 17
I have had several lost-cost Polars over the last 12 years to keep track of my general fitness. Every few months, when at the gym, I'll set a treadmill to a particular speed and ramp angle. I'll note my heart rate after 45 minutes. So, I have 12 year record of my heart rate at a known exertion rate, along with my weight and note about my general well being.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
I guess my main interesting in the HRM would be to make sure I am staying at an optimal heart rate for burning fat. From what I have read, you need maintain a certain percent of your max heart rate for a specific amount of time. While I have a "decent" idea that I am doing this right now, I think that having an HRM would help me ensure that I am accomplishing this. Am I off base on that assumption?
Glenn,

Are you trying to lose weight, or burn fat? Those two things may or may not be the same thing.

Above a certain percentage of your maximum heart rate, you are always burning fat for fuel. Well, technically, your are burning carbohydrates for fuel, since your muscles need glucose. So what's happening is your body is burning carbohydrates and then replacing those carbohydrates by converting fat stores into simple sugars. At some point your body cannot replace those carbs as quickly as your are using them. (I've simplified this a bit (with regards to the specific chemical reactions), but the basic concepts are correct.) The area/heart rates/workloads between those two points is commonly referred to as the "fat burning" zone. This is what I call my "all day" pace (identified by Coggan as Zone 2). On a perceived exertion scale, it's like a 2 or 3.

Now if you want to lose weight, then that relates to the total amount of calories lost vs calories replaced. If you have time to exercise all day, and want to burn a lot of calories then target the "fat burning" zone. If you don't have time to exercise all day, then you have to look at alternatives, which includes working at higher workloads/heart rates for shorter periods of time. These workouts may be above the "fat burning" zone, but you still will be burning fat.

I know my polar has a "calorie counter" feature which I use as another basic indicator of how one work out compares to another. I also use it as a refueling guide for long endurance workouts (3+ hours). If you want a HRM to help with weight loss, this is a nifty feature. (One of these days I want to wear my HRM for a day to get a rough idea of my daily basal calorie requirements...)
post #16 of 17
I use a Polar F11 and really like it (~$100). It has both heart rate and calories burned. It is also very easy to use. As far as benefits with training, I recommend one to all my personal fitness clients who are just getting started in fitness. If you are just starting you can't rely on perception of fatigue because you are always fatigued. It lets you know how hard to train and if you are slacking off. It is not something that you have to have to get in shape, but why not use one to maximize the effects of your training?
post #17 of 17
A little something I found that relates to this thread,enjoy

Burn your heart rate monitors!
I just read an article in the New York Times about heart rates which reminded me of one of my pet peeves: the reductionist view of the world and the body. The writer and the experts that she quotes all believe that the "heart rate" is a magical marker of fitness. They all seem to think that the point of exercise and the key to health and fitness is purely to make your heart beat at some correct heart rate and to keep your heart beating at said rate for an optimal amount of time every day. As if simply making your heart beat fast would solve all your fitness and health concerns.

What is worse is that they do not even question their basic assumption: that the heart rate is the holy grail of fitness.
The basic premise of the article is that there is confusion over what exactly the magic heart rate number should be. Why should there be such overwhelming belief in the "fact" that the heart rate is the index of fitness yet such confusion over what that heart rate should be? Fitness experts have lost sight over what they are trying to achieve. They have neglected to define fitness and performance in any real way. Therefore agreement over what is best is impossible because there is no agreement over what they are looking for specifically. They build the foundation of their reasoning on soft definitions and subjective standards. Therefore, no agreement is possible and, furthermore, their hypothesis cannot be challenged.
Why is it that the guys who spend all their time calculating their optimal heart rates aren't winning the races? Sprinters, lifters, footballers, gymnasts, dancers, skiers and other athletes aren't sitting around calculating their heart rates. They are out there performing. The guy who comes in first in the race didn't spend the race looking at his heartrate monitor. He was looking at the finish line and trying to get there before anybody else. The race results are listed as "First with a time of 2:02" not "First with a heart rate of 190."
The heart rate myth is a placebo to placate the masses of weekend warriors so they can say, "I tried really hard," or "I was in my fat-burning zone for 20 minutes." Instead of having to say "I finished in an embarrassing 15 out of 15 in the race and I am woefully out of shape." The heart rate myth is there to give a lot of "experts" something to talk about to distract us and confuse us so that we need to hire "experts" to figure out our optimum training intensities.
The heart rate does not take into account quality or productivity. It is purely a measure of exertion. To paraphrase Coach Glassman: effort without productivity or results is a seizure. Measuring how far and how fast you can move is productive.
What we do at CrossFit is try to win and measure our fitness through our performance. It is not as confusing as the media would have us believe. Burn your heart rate monitors and don't listen to the hype.
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