What is a heart rate monitor or sport watch?
A heart rate monitor or sport watch is a device which enables the user to measure their heart rate in real time. These watches are essential both for the most demanding sportsmen and women as well as for amateurs, as they help to keep you within the appropriate pulse rate limits for achieving the best training session.
Nowadays, different types of heart rate monitors have been developed due to the popularity of new sporting disciplines. A vast number of precise and intelligent heart rate monitors are available with a multitude of functions such as calorie burning, performance, speed, distance, race monitoring, training schedules, training intensity... All with the objective of helping the users to improve and optimize their training sessions.
There are many kinds of heart rate monitors, each with their own features and some common ones. Choosing which heart rate monitor to buy will depend to a great extent on the sport you do, the targets you set yourself and the data you want to obtain to monitor your training.
Why use a heart rate monitor or sport watch?
Taking it to the limit or training in extreme conditions does not mean getting the most out of your training session.
Everybody, regardless of their level of fitness needs to train at the right intensity. To achieve that it is necessary to use a heart rate monitor which constantly measures your heart rate, as this helps us to train within our limits, getting the most out of each training session.
To do sport at the correct level of intensity increases the efficiency of the exercise and give you a better understanding of the exercise you are doing. It also enables you to discover the limits of your body, thereby avoiding possible injuries.
Furthermore, training with a sport watch, means you can collect and analyze the information about the level of effort, the intensity and duration of the workout, the recovery... You get the information about all your training, so you can analyse it later using the free software applications provided by the different brands such as Suunto, Polar or Garmin. In this way you can analyse your data and see which aspects of your training could be improved.
Key for choosing a heart rate monitor or sport watch
- 1. TYPE OF SPORT
There are lots of models on the market designed for the most popular sports. So the first thing to think about is which sport you are going to do: running, cycling, outdoor sports, fitness, multisport...
Each sport is different and, so there are different things to measure for each one. If your training is based on running, you will have to measure a series of different aspects such as speed, distance, heart rate, strength... However, if your sport is cycling, you will want to measure cadence, speed, distance...
For this reason it is important to be clear about which sport you are going to do.
- 2. TRAINING LEVEL
How fit are you? What are your targets? And to reach them, what type of information do you need to measure? Depending on your targets the things which you have to measure to optimize your training in pursuit of those targets will differ.
So, the second stage: define realistic objectives and the necessary steps to achieve them.
Should I only be measuring speed and distance in running? Cadence in cycling? Or do I want to programme, monitor and analyze my training a 100%?
Your answer will tell you if you need a basic heart rate monitor or one with more functions.
- 3. COMPATIBLE ACCESSORIES
Once we have decided the type of sport we are going to do along with our targets, we have to assess the range of available heart rate monitors. An important point when it comes to choosing the right heart rate monitor or sport watch, is to check first what compatible accessories there are. Remember that although, at the moment, you may be an amateur runner without the need for a heart rate monitor with a great number of features; tomorrow, however, you might decide to take up cycling as well. If you have considered this possibility from the outset you could use the same heart rate monitor, with the addition of an appropriate accessory for the new sport.