Should I use a heart rate monitor in the gym?
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.
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 trainingforwarriors.com
Monitoring your heart rate helps you maintain the perfect intensity for fat loss