Should I use a heart rate mon­i­tor in the gym?

Men's Fitness - - Experts -

Heart rate mon­i­tors (HRMs) are a sta­ple for en­durance ath­letes – they al­low them to track their per­for­mance ac­cu­rately while run­ning, cy­cling or swimming. You rarely see peo­ple wear­ing them at the gym, how­ever, least of all in the weights room. Here’s the thing, though: if you’re look­ing to burn fat, the level of in­stant, ac­cu­rate feed­back they pro­vide can make all the dif­fer­ence.

Don’t get me wrong – an HRM won’t help if you’re fol­low­ing a tra­di­tional body­build­ing or strength-based weightlift­ing plan. But if fat loss is your pri­mary goal, those aren’t the best work­out op­tions any­way. Weights-based in­ter­val train­ing is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to burn fat, pro­vided you push your­self hard enough and al­low enough re­cov­ery time be­tween in­ter­vals. An HRM lets you track both vari­ables ac­cu­rately while you train.

Sore point

You’ve prob­a­bly seen or tried a weights-based in­ter­val class at your lo­cal gym. They tend to throw to­gether all man­ner of ran­dom ex­er­cises in cir­cuits or com­plexes, per­formed for high reps with min­i­mal rest for any­thing up to an hour. Most peo­ple as­sume that be­cause these classes leave them ex­hausted and sore, they must be gen­er­at­ing great re­sults – but this isn’t al­ways the case.

My al­ter­na­tive ap­proach is called Hur­ri­cane Train­ing. Each Hur­ri­cane work­out groups a sprint – on a tread­mill, bike or rower – with a pair of weights-based re­sis­tance ex­er­cises for nine in­ter­val sets (see the box be­low). As you fin­ish each set your heart rate should be at least 85% of your max­i­mum (you can work out your max us­ing the Kar­vo­nen For­mula by sub­tract­ing your age from 220). Then you rest for the time it takes for your heart rate to drop to 60% of your max be­fore start­ing the next in­ter­val.

Miss­ing a beat

An HRM isn’t es­sen­tial – if you pre­fer you can find your pulse next to your Adam’s ap­ple, count how many times it beats in six sec­onds and mul­ti­ply this by ten to work out your bpm. An HRM is just a lot more straight­for­ward and ac­cu­rate. You can use the HRM to check that your heart rate is at 85% of your max or higher as soon as you fin­ish each in­ter­val. If it isn’t, you need to work harder in the next one. It also en­sures that you can start the next in­ter­val the sec­ond your heart rate drops to 60% of your max. The more ac­cu­rate you are, the bet­ter the fat loss re­sults. For more from Rooney visit train­ing­for­war­

Mon­i­tor­ing your heart rate helps you main­tain the per­fect in­ten­sity for fat loss

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