Adventures With My Heart Rate Monitor

I mentioned at the end of a recent post that, at the suggestion of my new trainer Mo, I bought a heart rate monitor. It’s been a fun addition to my workouts. I bought one made by Bowflex ($130 marked down to $30 at Big 5 Sporting Goods!) that features a chest belt that contains the actual monitor, and a wristwatch that displays all the info you need.


You can buy heart rate monitors that don’t have a chest belt, but this one was such a great price, I couldn’t resist. The chest belt goes around your chest so the monitor is sitting in the center of your chest, just below your tits. It was a little awkward the first time I used it, but since then I’ve mostly forgotten it was there.

I’ve never really monitored my heart rate during my workouts before. When I was growing up, my swim coaches would have us check our pulses during practices, but I never really focused on reaching certain levels. Mo wants me doing cardio workouts in a very specific range – he’s calculated that my training heart rate needs to be between 140-157 beats a minute, and I’m to do 4x cardio workouts a week, for 45 minutes each time, entirely in that range.

It’s tough keeping my heart rate between 140-157 beats a minute! My cardio workouts have definitely increased in intensity. Since getting the heart rate monitor, I’ve tried a bunch of different machines, with various levels of success.

  • StairMaster: Not hard to get to that range, but I can’t stay there for an entire 45 minutes. Right now, 15-20 minutes seems to be the max. That’s pretty good, and I have no qualms about finishing the workout on another machine!
  • Recumbent Bike: Very difficult to get into that range. I spent 45 minutes on a bike the other day, and I only flirted in the range for a minute or two. For the rest of the workout, I averaged about 130. I can’t pedal fast enough on a lower resistance to get my heart beating fast enough, and if I up the resistance, my pedaling slows down, and I still can’t reach the range.
  • Adaptive Motion Trainer: A little more difficult to get to the range, but certainly doable.
  • ARC Trainer: Easy peasy to reach the range, and easier to maintain, too.
  • Elliptical: Easy peasy to reach the range, and very maintainable. In fact, during my last elliptical workout, I successfully kept my average heart rate at 147:


You can also see that I overexerted for a short while, and my heart rate peaked above the range at 163, but I didn’t stay there long, only a few seconds or so.  Oh, and the machines at my gym can pick up the signal from my monitor, so I don’t even need the wear the watch, my heart rate gets incorporated into the machine’s display!

I also wore my heart rate monitor to one of Richard Simmons’ classes at Slimmons, since a majority of that class is a cardio workout. I could only check the watch occasionally, since there’s a lot of arm movements in Richard’s class, but I noticed that I reached the range a couple times. I’d say I averaged around 130 during the rest of the class.

A couple things I haven’t tried yet with the heart rate monitor: running, and the non-recumbent exercise bike – what’s that kind called? The ones that are like you’re sitting on an actual bike?

Speaking of Slimmons, this reminds me of a life lesson that I want to share with everyone:

When someone offers you fresh produce from their garden, take it.

While at Slimmons, my friend Joanne came up and said, “I brought you a tomato from our garden, if you want it.” HELL YEAH I WANT IT! Fresh produce is the best, and this was one pretty tomato.



10 Responses to Adventures With My Heart Rate Monitor

  1. Denise says:

    I found the same thing with the recumbent bike, but the upright ones that look more like a regular road bike put my heart rate up more than the recumbent bikes did, so I’ll be interested to see how it works for you.

  2. I wear my heart rate monitor in my spin class and I’m pretty much staying in my target heart rate the entire class.

    The studio I spin at is allowing me to bring a guest for free on Sunday evenings this month and next month if you want to try a class with me!

  3. Denise has it right. The other non-recumbent type is called an upright stationary bike. My theory on why it’s more difficult to get the heart rate up on a recumbent bike is because one is only engaging their legs when using it. On a traditional upright bike, the entire body, especially the core, is engaged to keep one from falling off the bike.

    According to a trainer I had several years ago, recumbent bikes were originally developed for heart patients and people with back problems who couldn’t use an upright stationary bike. They were specifically designed to keep the heart rate lower to allow cardiac patients the opportunity to get some cardiovascular exercise without having their heart rate get too high which could cause problems. Since the reclining position of the seat also takes pressure off the lower back, it also works well for people with back issues. His opinion was that unless someone falls into either or those categories or is recovering from an injury, they should avoid using the recumbent bike if they really want a good workout.

    • David says:

      Thanks, Mel. None of this is news to me – I just prefer the recumbent because it’s easier to see the TV! I use the upright occasionally too, guess it’s time to turn ‘occasionally’ into ‘frequently!’

  4. I LOVE that you posted my tomato on your blog!!! Garden to table in about 4 hours, LOL. Enjoy it, and there are more where that came from. Next week I will bring you some yellow pear tomatoes.

  5. Tracy says:

    There is nothing as tasty as a tomato straight from the garden!!

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