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Training with Heart Rate Monitors

As you design a training plan to prepare for your next climb, data about your training and level of fitness is a really useful tool. One of the best ways to get an objective idea of your current level of fitness and to measure your gains is by tracking your heart rate with a heart rate monitor.

There are two main types of heart rate monitors available: watches that use an infrared sensor to your heart rate at your wrist and monitors that use a chest strap with two electrodes to record the electrical pulses from your heart. The infrared sensors on watches measure the change in the size of veins to record your heart beat, and can give a good rough idea of your heart rate trends. Movement of the watch on your wrist can interfere with the accuracy of the sensor however, so the normal movement that comes with training activities can mean that it doesn’t record your workout very effectively. The electrodes on a chest strap pick up the electrical signals from your heart very effectively despite any movement, and therefore and the best way to get a good picture of your workouts, and what we recommend.

Heart rate monitors are effective for a couple of different purposes. First and foremost, a heart rate monitor gives you the ability to track your training more accurately. Heart rate monitors use versions of the 5 training zones that most athletes utilize, so you can begin to build an accurate picture of how much time you spend in each zone and how effective a given period, week, or workout might have been for you.

A heart rate monitor also helps you to hit your target intensity zone for a given workout. This works in both directions; it can help you to tone it down on your long level 2 endurance training if you start to push a little hard, or it can let you know that you need to push even harder to make it to your target L4 zone on a set of intervals. One of the most helpful is setting an upper heart rate threshold alarm during your aerobic building workouts to warn you when you go too hard, which happens to most!

Tracking your heart rate over a period of time can also give you a picture of your overall fitness. As your training pays off, your resting heart rate should drop, and you will find yourself covering more ground and going faster, but at the same intensity. Conversely, a sudden spike in your resting heart rate may indicate that your training load is adding up and that you need to focus a bit more on recovery.

As an added bonus, most of the better heart rate monitors also have the ability to track your workout with GPS, so you can keep track of your training routes. A heart rate monitor won’t make you fitter, but it gives you invaluable information that allows you to create a more informed training plan.


Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

Comments (1)

There are so many choices with heart rate monitors. Can you make a few recommendations? Thank you.

Posted by: Mike on

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