HR Monitors

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
SSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO last nite while everyone was asleep, i was working. Well not so much. although convincing a woman not to drive her car in the water was tough...but i digress.

I have been reading on the web and i see % of max heart rate, LT and all that other mumbo jumbo. Leading me to think that i may want to pick up a HR monitor.

Should i get one (cant hurt rite?)? Good? Bad? What would be the minimum features to seek when making such a purchase? They do get expensive.

Thanks again...you all are my bountiful endless source of knowledge.
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
HR training is pretty unreliable as a measure of output, particularly when doing short, intense efforts. However, I think it's super-valuable to wear a monitor for a while and learn about your body. Seeing how various heart rates "feel", particularly as you fatigue over the course of a ride/race, is a significant part of learning how hard you can push yourself. As you gain experience, you can do a lot more based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion), knowing roughly where you're at on your personal tachometer. I used one for about five years.
 
I was having this exact discussion with BF last night.

I have used the Timex Ironman Triathlon HR Monitor for two years now. I like this one because it comes in two sizes. My old HRM used to have a chest strap and watch that were so large they were an uncomfortable fit.

The most basic feature you can get out of an HRM is just a straight read of your heart rate, and can be had from Polar or Reebok for about $30. I like to use some of the advanced features of HRMs, like setting target zones and using split-lap timers to see how fast I am going over a particular lap versus my HR (I am a runner also so this feature applies more to running than riding). My Timex HRM allows me to set 5 zones based on a percentage range of my HRmax. When I use the chronometer to time my rides or runs and specify the zone in which I want to work, the HRM will feedback a summary of time spent in the zone versus total time of workout, and give an average HR plus the min and max HR for the whole workout.

HR and LT training are related, but LT is tough to determine exactly unless you have access to a lab that can measure your blood chemistry at planned intervals during an all-out training session. I have estimated the HR at which I hit my LT by feel. It's not accurate, but I am not a pro racer either, so estimates are OK for me. I pretty much use the way my lungs and legs feel. If they are beginning to burn and cramp due to lactic acid build up and do not immediate relief unless I slow down, I have hit my LT. I mark the heart rate and go into recovery mode, slowing down until I feel the muscles clear the lactate. Then I ramp it up again until I feel the burn and mark the HR again. Do this about 4 or 5 times, then take the average HR of those 4 or 5 intervals and you have a decent estimate of your LT related to effort as measured by HR.

One thing to keep in mind about using HRMs while riding: you will push yourself very hard to stay in your zone on the bike, especially at the higher end of your HRmax. While running, I can easily push myself into 80-85% of my max, but on the bike, it is much harder to get there and stay there, so I would have to switch gears or spin faster to maintain the zone. Cycling is more efficient than running so your HR will be a bit lower on the bike (at least mine is, its a subject of some debate but I have seldom been able to hit and maintain a high bpm on the bike - maybe I am just not riding hard enough). It is very difficult for me to maintain my target zone while riding indoors on the trainer - no wind resistance and no variance in terrain means you have to push harder gearing to be where you want to in terms of bpm.

I have been thinking of getting a new HRM just for the bike. Trying to monitor HR while riding presents some difficulties - tough to look at your wrist while pedalling, and the watch strap does not quite fit well around the handlebars. Polar makes a nice HRM that mounts to your handle bars. It integrates a cyclocomputer with wireless cadence and HRM. Pricey, but perfect for riding: http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=20487&subcategory_ID=4115.

Here is the link for the one I currently use from Timex: http://www.timex.com/gp/product/B000221XZW/ref=sc_pgp_c_3_2_238523011_m_A1S5XB33AHYRMX_2/103-2358109-4463015?ie=UTF8&n=238523011&s=&timexBrand=core&v=glance
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
HR training is pretty unreliable as a measure of output, particularly when doing short, intense efforts. However, I think it's super-valuable to wear a monitor for a while and learn about your body. Seeing how various heart rates "feel", particularly as you fatigue over the course of a ride/race, is a significant part of learning how hard you can push yourself. As you gain experience, you can do a lot more based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion), knowing roughly where you're at on your personal tachometer. I used one for about five years.
This is basically my experience. I now use RPE, maybe throw in the HRM once a year for no good reason. It's a good way to learn about yourself in both ways - going too hard or not going hard enough.
 

heythorp

New Member
sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, what ever happened to just riding your bike and enjoying it?


i used a heart rate monitor to count calories. Not that it is accurate but it does give you some sort of idea. wore it for 3 months. It was more of a distraction from being on the bike then a tool. I would look down on hills and see where I was. I actually was surprised a few times how high i was. But other then that, I just get on my bike and ride.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Yes it becomes a major distraction. You start to ride by the numbers.

Plus I hated having the strap on my chest. Felt like my lungs were slowly being crushed.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
my garmin 305 came with the HR monitor. i have yet to use it but probably will one of these days just to see where i am at certain points of my ride. i don't care about it so much in the woods since that's where i just want to have fun.

the road is for pain, suffering and getting better in the woods.
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
Yes it becomes a major distraction. You start to ride by the numbers.

Plus I hated having the strap on my chest. Felt like my lungs were slowly being crushed.
Agreed on both counts, though my issue with the strap is having the farging thing slide down to my stomach, rendering it both annoying and useless. I think 2001 was the last year I wore one with any dedication.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
...though my issue with the strap is having the farging thing slide down to my stomach, rendering it both annoying and useless.
Absolutely. Of course the best way to prevent this was to strap it on even tighter, which made breathing even more labored.

But I agree with one of your initial thoughts. I learned a lot about myself in the first year of wearing it.
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
I knew i could count on you guys! Thanks!

I wish I could just ride for fun. But based up these interval workouts that I plan on starting this week, riding the trainer seems like it wont be so much fun. But i could be wrong. And when i started reading all this crap bout HR monitors, i thought mayb its time to get one.

I would hate to be distracted while riding. I have enough trouble staying upright! As a beginner mayb it would be a cool tool to measure where i am at now and compare to were ill be (as some of you have mentioned).

But I am torn bc some of you say its useless!!! ahhhh! decisions decisions. also, There is such a broad range to choose from. I guess i have some research on price if i decide to do it.

just to clarify a few things if i may. ChrisG talks bout percieved exertion. Is this just how much that you feel you are working your body? As in pushing yourself to failure? and lastly the personal tachometer. Again is that a mental/physical feel kinda thing.

If soo these are free and i like free :D

Thanks all!
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
yea all over that! NOT! that would be kinda cool tho. but not for over a grand.

Unless...i see and old lady outside the window...brb

:getsome: :getsome: :getsome:

kidding kidding
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
PMs are the way of the future, to be sure.

A *tad* pricey though.
 

PatrickBrown

Active Member
Agreed on both counts, though my issue with the strap is having the farging thing slide down to my stomach, rendering it both annoying and useless. I think 2001 was the last year I wore one with any dedication.

CHris, this is precisely why I kept eating the cheesburgers...... to hold the heart rate monitor strap up.....

(the cheeseburgers didnt help me at all with trying to keep up with the pack though)
 

ChrisG

Unapologetic Lifer for Rock and Roll
I wish I could just ride for fun. But based up these interval workouts that I plan on starting this week, riding the trainer seems like it wont be so much fun. But i could be wrong. And when i started reading all this crap bout HR monitors, i thought mayb its time to get one.

I would hate to be distracted while riding. I have enough trouble staying upright! As a beginner mayb it would be a cool tool to measure where i am at now and compare to were ill be (as some of you have mentioned).

But I am torn bc some of you say its useless!!! ahhhh! decisions decisions. also, There is such a broad range to choose from. I guess i have some research on price if i decide to do it.

just to clarify a few things if i may. ChrisG talks bout percieved exertion. Is this just how much that you feel you are working your body? As in pushing yourself to failure? and lastly the personal tachometer. Again is that a mental/physical feel kinda thing.

If soo these are free and i like free :D

Thanks all!
*The "just have fun" thing keeps getting brought up. IMO, no reason why this stuff can't be fun, in its own way. If you're really interested in getting faster, a winter which includes doing some productive indoor work will help get you there. OK, you're gonna sweat, and breath heavy, and your legs are gonna hurt, but keep thinking of how good it's gonna feel when you take that fitness outside.

*I think that using a HRM is an excellent idea for you right now, Fred. As has been mentioned above, it's important to have some idea of the data and how it corresponds to how you feel. You can get as technical with it as you like, or just look at the thing every once and a while and take note of the number, what you've been doing, and how you feel. If you want to set some zones, try to get an idea of your LT, etc., great, but the big thing is just learning about how your body responds to different sorts of efforts. Jersey Girl has lots of good info in her post above. The amount of bells and whistles really has to do with how precise you expect to be in analyzing the data. A basic monitor that does nothing but give you your heart rate can be all you need.

*Rate of Perceived Exertion is just that: How hard do you think you're going? There's a big range between "just warming up" and genuine max heart rate (at which point you quickly go hypoxic and it's game over). Using the HRM for a while will give you a truer sense of this, as long as you use it as a broad gauge, and use it for a while, under various conditions.

*And have fun, dammit!
 
RPE Scale

Hi Fred (I guess that is your real name, Army of None),

RPE (rate of perceived exertion) is a scale from 1-20 that uses your individually perceived measure of intensity based on how you feel during a particular workout. It breaks down like this (1-5.999 do not count; this is according to the CDC scale where 1-5.999 is normal, everyday activity. You may find fitness websites or mags using a 1-10 scale but the exertion level is the same):

6 No exertion at all (my comment: carry on as usual)
7
Extremely light (7.5)
8
9 Very light
10
11 Light
12
13 Somewhat hard (my comment: you can carry on a conversation with a running or biking partner)
14
15 Hard (heavy)
16
17 Very hard (my comment: you can mouth a few words to your favorite song or an "OK" or a "Hey" to passers-by on the trail)
18
19 Extremely hard (my comment: no talking, all focus in on your stroke and breath)
20 Maximal exertion (my comment: you are ready to die)

RPE is an effective way to measure your workouts, unless you are a numbers-person. If you rely on data as a means of tracking your individual progress versus a specified time period, RPE will leave you wanting more in terms of hard data. If you are going to use RPE, keep a very detailed training journal that narrates how you felt over every ride. Narrative is the best way to log your training when using RPE; in the absence of the "hard" data that bpm can give you, you have to describe how your body felt during a specific ride at a specific RPE. I like to describe my rides when comparing them to my HR info, because I can say "yes, at 80% of max, I felt like I wanted to die" or "at 70% max, I was flying high and could have ridden to Cali and back again."

The decision will lie in deciding what kind of numbers guy you are. If you need hard data as a metric for your progress, get the HRM. If you go more by "feel" as a metric and can narrate your training in a journal, go with RPE.

For more on RPE, you can throw it in a search engine, or look here: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/measuring/perceived_exertion.htm
 
*The "just have fun" thing keeps getting brought up. IMO, no reason why this stuff can't be fun, in its own way. If you're really interested in getting faster, a winter which includes doing some productive indoor work will help get you there. OK, you're gonna sweat, and breath heavy, and your legs are gonna hurt, but keep thinking of how good it's gonna feel when you take that fitness outside.
Execellent point, Chris. I have dedicated my winter to lifting weights using what I think of as cycling-specific lifts and workouts. I have not had the opportunity to ride the trainer, but I have been out on a few winter rides and I am running also to keep my fitness level in check.

Here is a typical week for me at the gym (I am training for HalfMary now so you will see a lot of running in this mix):

Sunday: Long Run or MTB Ride depending on weather and time available
Monday: Short and sweet run at lunchtime, then Legs. I go a bit old school. Squats, Deadlift, Lunges with barbell, single leg calf raises, single leg press followed by 30 minutes on bike or elliptical machine
Tuesday: running and ab/back work
Wednesday: Running, Upper body: upright rows, chest press, lat pull-down, bent-over row, abs and lower back work
Thursday: cross training, either on trainer, stationary bike at gym, or elliptical. And calisthenics: push ups, pull ups (assisted), dips (assisted)
Friday is a rest day
Saturday: long run or MTB ride depending on weather and time available

As the season progresses and my half mary is done with, I will be switching to a more cycling focused routine, with more road riding thrown in mid-week and less lifting. For me, it is important that I keep my upper body in check with regard to the lower-body strength I build as I ramp up the biking, so I tend to lift more upper body with high reps/low weight during the riding season and leave the leg conditioning in the care of the bicycle.

With regard to having fun, all of this stuff is naturally fun to me. I am a physical person and find any kind of movement conducive to having fun and relieving stress, so my typical day may be more geared towards activity than another's might be. If you continue to do what feels "right" for you, you will see gains. But to achieve a maximal level of performance, you may need to become focused on the data, and training load, and schedules, and diet and cross-training to get what you want.

Take some time to evaluate what you really, really want to accomplish from a training program, and adjust is to suit your needs.

Best,
JGR
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
*The "just have fun" thing keeps getting brought up. IMO, no reason why this stuff can't be fun, in its own way. If you're really interested in getting faster, a winter which includes doing some productive indoor work will help get you there. OK, you're gonna sweat, and breath heavy, and your legs are gonna hurt, but keep thinking of how good it's gonna feel when you take that fitness outside.
What I would say is that it takes a certain level of fitness to really enjoy yourself on your typical off-road ride. If you go to Round Valley (for instance) and you're not in some semblance of shape, why bother? If your thing is riding around a foot path somewhere like Patriot's Path, then screw it no reason to buy a trainer at all.
 
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