Having a heart rate monitor on your smartwatch or fitness tracker can be very handy, but it’s only really beneficial if you’re using it properly. Unfortunately, all too many of us are checking it too frequently, rendering the results were seeing less and less useful. Get to know if you’re using this gadget feature to your best advantage or if you’re only holding yourself back.
Using your tracker to tell you your heart rate while you’re doing cardio – or an intensity-based workout such as HIIT – can be quite helpful. Running, cycling and other activities meant to raise the number of beats per minute can be tracked by paying attention to the speed of your heartbeat, to a certain extent.
If the app associated with your tracker provides you with a feature that already divides your heart rate into various categories – such as low-intensity/resting (zone 1), fat burning (zone 2), cardio (zone 3), peak (zone 4), etc. – then you’re already on your way. For the majority of your exercise, expect that will be coasting along in the zone 2 category the majority of the time. This is particularly true if you’re out jogging, riding your bike, or swimming laps.
That said, when you boost your intensity, building up to harder work, doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) or working harder in other ways, you’ll be able to watch that beat rise to zone 3 for a while, and even to zone 4 for brief periods.
Still, it’s important to know that even though you can watch your heart rate throughout this process, it doesn’t mean that you should be eyeing it all the time. If your heartbeat isn’t where you think it should be at all times, that’s perfectly okay. You don’t need to hit peak for your workout to have value.
Pay attention to the way the rest of your body feels throughout your workouts too. It’s not just about your heart rate.
When you’re used to doing cardio, it’s easy to start thinking of the intensity of your workout in terms of how it is measured with your heartbeat. However, when you’re strength training, a higher heart rate doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re working harder. It’s just not how that type of activity works.
Therefore, to avoid sending yourself in the wrong direction during your strength training workouts, just ignore your heart rate. It’s not the right measure, and it won’t provide you with valuable information.