Should I Use A Heart Rate Monitor?

Keep your heart strong with a heart rate monitor!You may have realized that heart rate monitors are everywhere.  That should not be suprising since our heart is the most important muscle in our bodies and most of us are aware of the importance of getting enough cardiovascular exercise. 

If we don’t have one we may feel that we are missing critical information to get the most from our workouts. We may be right! 

A heart rate monitor is NEVER a bad idea. But we need to remember that it is a tool to assist us during our exercise.  It is ALWAYS important to pay attention to our bodies and not rely solely on the heart rate monitor for feedback.

Using a heart rate monitor is not necessary for everyone but it is a great tool for ALL exercisers. It will help us learn how we feel at a given heart rate and we will become a better judge of our exercise tolerance and any limitations. Heart rate monitors are especially useful for new exercisers because the device helps them set limits and monitor their progress. Monitoring our heart rate is also a way to increase our odds of getting the results that we want!

Results are what we are after, right? 

So by using a heart rate monitor, we can be sure that we do each Beachbody workout to the MAXIMUM of our ability, whether it is Power 90, P90X, INSANITY, etc.  The maximum of our ability?  What does that mean?  This means that you don’t back off so that your heart rate falls into a lower zone on purpose. (The only exception is in “doubles” routines, where one of your two workouts is supposed to be at “low to moderate intensity,” meaning that you don’t want to exceed 60-70% of your max heart rate.)  

You may have heard one of the Beachbody trainers say “check your heart rate” OR “stay in the zone”.  What does this mean?  What are the zones?

Recovery Zone (50-60%)
Temperate Zone (60-70%)
Aerobic Zone (70-80%)
Threshold Zone (80-90%)
Redline Zone (90-100%)

These zones are relative based on age and sex.  To find our your numbers use the Beachbody Target Heart Rate Calculator

What zone should I be in? 

That really depends on your goals and the program you are using.  If you are doing INSANITY, then being in the Threshold and Redline Zones is probably where you will be.  Over time, your fitness level will increase and you may notice you spend more time in the Aerobic and Threshold Zones.  With P90X you may find yourself mostly in the Temperate and Aerobic Zones. 

These Beachbody workouts are designed for MAXIMUM effort.  So, unless you feel maxed or faint or something, use percieved exertion in all of the workouts and do them as hard as you can.  Remember we can use a heart rate monitor to help find our limitations and track our progress. 

So which heart rate monitor should I use?

I recommend at least the Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor. With the FT7 we will be able to record the following information:

  • Maximum heart rate
  • Average heart rate
  • Calories Burned
  • Total exercise time
  • Time in target heart rate zone
  • Target heart rate zone setting for that workout


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