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.
KEEP IT UP, DAVID!