It would be useless for you to know which heart rate zones will help you get better fitness results if you don’t know how to measure your heart rate in the first place. So here are three quick methods to measure heart rate during exercise:
#1: Take your pulse. This old-school method involves placing your fingers on the carotid artery that runs down the front-side of your neck or the radial artery on the inside of your wrist, and counting how many times you feel your heart beat in 6, 10, 15, 30 or 60 seconds. Frankly, this method is inconvenient, and it can be easy to miss heart beats. It can also be dangerous by releasing But if you’re technology deficient, it’s one way to go.
#2: Use a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor has two components: a strap that goes around your chest and a monitor that looks just like a watch which you wear on your wrist. The strap transmits your heart rate to the watch, and…voila! Your heart rate is displayed without you having to do any messy counting. And don’t worry too much if the heart rate on your monitor occasionally disappears or speeds up to 300 beats per minute. In most cases, that is technical difficulty and can often be remedied by ensuring that the skin under the chest strap is moistened with sweat, water, or an electrical conducting gel. But just in case there is something medically related happening with your heart, you may want to contact your physician and get a check up.
#3: Use a piece of cardio equipment. Most cardio machines in gyms these days have silver-colored handles or bars you can hold on to which will record your heart rate. They’re slightly less convenient than a heart rate monitor, but usually more convenient than taking your pulse.
Whichever method you choose, when you first begin tracking your heart rate, I’d recommend you do it a lot. Eventually, you’ll learn to associate how your intensity, breathing, and muscles feel at each heart rate, at which point you can begin to pay less attention to heart rate, and more attention to nature, your favorite TV show, or your exercise companions.
How to Track Your Heart Rate
When you track your heart rate, you can also measure
1. your resting heart rate, which will get lower as you get fitter and
2. your heart rate recovery after exercise, since a heart rate that has dropped by less than 12 beats per minute one minute after stopping a workout could indicate increased risk of heart attack.
Finally, don’t give much credence to the number of calories your heart rate monitor might tell you you’re burning–they can overestimate by up to 20%!
Eat Smart, Train Hard