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Old 12-09-01, 08:26 AM   #1
scubagirl
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Heart rate monitor

Christmas is comming. I'm wondering what whistles and bells are really used on a HRM. I'm looking at Polar models. One of the M series keeps information for 2 people (that could benifit ME!) but the S series have cadence (he dosen't have that on his computer) computer downloading and much more.

He likes things pretty basic. (I just reset his bike computer after 3000mi. He never knew how far he rode, he just kept riding)

What HRM do you use...and how many of the functions do you use?
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Old 12-09-01, 10:03 AM   #2
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I recently purchased and returned a Polar A5 and Cardiosport Heartsafe TZ.
The A5 is too confusing to use and I deleted some of my ride information before I could review it by pressing the wrong button. Another time I pressed the wrong button and stopped recording half way through my ride. AND the chest transmitter battery on all Polar models can't be changed by the user. It must be returned to Polar.

The Cardiosport is more user friendly but doesn't have average heartrate.

For the price of the Polar M or S series you could buy two heart rate monitors and a cyclocomputer that has cadence.

The HRM that I am keeping is the Sports Instruments ECG5.
It has average HR for the ride, average HR for each lap, ride time, lap time, calories used, time in zone, time above zone, time below zone, day, date, time, stopwatch, and timer. It is very easy to use.
It "looks" like a nicer unit than the Polar or Cardiosport too! And the batteries are user changeable.
I thought the lap feature was something I wouldn't use since I don't race or do "laps". But here is what I decided to do with the laps feature.
My Saturday and Sunday rides are generally from home to Stone Mountain Park ("lap" 1), a couple of loops around the mountian (a "lap" for each loop), and then back home (another "lap"). Duuhhhh!!!

According to the authors of some of the HRM books (Sally Edwards, etc), most people don't need an expensive or complicated HRM. The features needed are average HR, timer, and time in zone.
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Last edited by RonH; 12-09-01 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 12-10-01, 03:23 PM   #3
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I have a Polar M51. I got it for Xmas last year and I love it.

Ok, a little about my habits to give you an idea. I ride a fair amount, but not inordinate amounts of miles. By the end of this year, I will likely have gone about 2400 miles for the year. When it's warm, I'll go 5-6 days a week (assuming no plans) with one long 30-70 mile ride on the weekend - or an event. I ride for fun and to lose weight (which I have succeeded in this year: 40+ lbs). I do not ride to attempt to break a 6 hour century. At least not now. This is the end of only my second serious road riding season.

Having said that...

I use the following functions:

-Exercise time (duh)
-Time in zone
-OwnZone (but I set it myself)
-Total calories burned
-Accumulated calories
-Accumulated exercise time
-Average HR
-Actual watch features, like alarm

* Note that the 2 accumlated features are a good way to see how many calories you burn and how much time you exercise in a given time period. I reset mine every week.

I do not use these:

-Fitness test (forgot it even existed)
-OwnZone: self-calibrating. This is supposed to be a feature where you slowly warm up and it tells you where you should exercise that day. This was not remotely effective for me. I set my own zones before I ride every day.
-Percentage of fat burned.
-2 people can use the HRM

I wish I had these features:

-Maybe some sort of % of max HR number. But I don't think I'd really use this very often.

I do not care that I don't have these features:

-Cadence
-Compuer download. I think sometimes we all spend too much time in front of the computer and not enough riding. Just MHO.
-Lap stuff
-Time above/below zone. My first 1-2 minutes is below my lowest zone and after that it's all over. After a bit I stopped caring about over/under.

Ok, to address RonH's complaints...

1. I also once stopped the HRM in mid-exercise. Then I learned what not to do. I would assume that every HRM has a way to turn it off and I found it early on - in mid exercise.

2. The chest transmitter cannot be changed by the user. I have only had mine for 1 year and it is supposed to last 2500 hours. By my estimation, that's going to last me roughly 9 years if I continue at the miles/year pace I'm at now. Actually, I also use it for jogging and hiking, so I really don't expect it to last much more than 5 years.

3. As far as looks, I'm a pretty non-descript guy, so I prefer the plain black of the Polar. I took a look at the SportsInstruments that Ron linked, and I would have gone with the Polar on looks alone. But....well, that's obviously subjective.

4. I agree with Ron about the complications of many HRMs. They're just not necessary. If you made me, all I would really need is upper/lower bounds and total exercise time. I like the calories burned too. Those 3 features are all I really need. I think.

Hope this all helps.
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Old 12-10-01, 04:08 PM   #4
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I have a Polar Beat. That's as basic as they come. It has the following features:
1. Heart Rate
2. err.
3. That's all

I bought it after reading "Heart Monitor Training for the Compleate Idiot" by John L Parker Jr.

His theory: Effective training requires alternating hard with easy. The HRM shows you when you are going out of your easy zone. It stops you from overtraining. He figures on the days you have to go hard you don't need the HRM to tell you, you'll push yourself hard enough.

Try get hold of the book first. Then decide on which HRM.

The only benefit in more complicated outfits (for me) is not to get mor HRM features, but to get time and multi lap features in so I don't have to wear 2 watches.

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Old 12-10-01, 04:50 PM   #5
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I'm basic, too. I have a Sports Instruments HRM that I recieved from my team as a sponsor payment. It's got current heart rate only. I usually only use it indoors since I can't regulate my pace in large group rides outdoors. It's simple, clean-cut, and easy.

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Old 12-10-01, 05:03 PM   #6
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I have the Polar S-210 which does have some bells and whistles on it. I got it at such a good price I figured why not and someday I will try and figure out what all the extras do. I must admit I do like to have the different heart rate zones so I can regulate and vary my workouts during the week.
I found the very basic models missing things that I was looking for.
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Old 12-10-01, 11:07 PM   #7
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I use a three year old Cateye HB-100. Does everything I need and real easy to use. Don't think you can get them any more though.
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Old 12-11-01, 06:51 AM   #8
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I think simple is best.

Large readout, easy to understand.

Personally, I think most folks use the HRM for a while and then lose interest in regular use of the HRM - except for those few who get really fascinated by this approach.

I ride mostly for fun, and find that too much technical stuff detracts from the enjoyment.

I have a Nashbar simple unit which I got on sale for $49.75 or thereabouts. It works very well, tells me my heart rate and I go from there. All in all, I find that heart rates vary so much from individual to individual that most of us can not use the simple formulas for MHR that you see around.

Have fun.
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Old 12-11-01, 07:39 AM   #9
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Well, I am looking at the Polar S710 or S510. I want to upgrade my bike computer -- it's getting a little wonky in its old age and it doesn't have cadence -- and I want a HRM that I can d/l to a computer. I'm pretty serious about my training, so I can justify it.

I just can't seem to find any info on the bike features that it does or doesn't have. At minimum, I want current speed, max speed, average speed, trip distance, odo, cadence and auto start/stop. Power interests me, but I'm not sure how much.
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Old 12-11-01, 08:03 AM   #10
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Velocipedio. Here is the Polar site which has a listing of all the cycling features of the 510 and 710. I wasn't that interested in downloading to the computer so I went with the 210 instead. It does not have the bike features on it but I already have a computer on each of my bikes and the cadence function is an option which you have to purchase anyway which I can do for the computers I have.

http://navigation.helper.realnames.c...2&uid=30008348

Good luck

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Old 12-11-01, 06:24 PM   #11
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What about the above zone and below alarms? I would like to know which zone I'm in at various road conditions. I figure it would be easier to hear which zome I'm in. Do any of you use this feature? Do you like it?
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Old 12-11-01, 06:42 PM   #12
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As far as I know almost all of the Polar models have an above and below alarm for your target zone. I do use it on mine which is the S-210. I can also set three different target zones on mine and it will tell me how long I have spent in each one when I am done my workout. You can also set different zones depending on which excerise you are doing. On the S-210 you can set up to five different present workouts.
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Old 12-11-01, 08:07 PM   #13
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The different zones within a workout and the preset exercise types are something that I wish I had. However, it's not a big deal to adjust the upper/lower alarm limits on a daily basis because, really, I don't change the zones very often.

With zones, I used to be very specific with where I wanted to be. I would have days where I wanted to be 135-145 and would set the limits as such. Over time, I got sick of having the thing beep so much, so I have it set almost all the time at 120/160. If I'm going on a long ride, I go with 80/150. The 80 is just a very low number because I don't care how low it gets for a long ride. The 150 is so I prolong my body's attempt to notch up an aerobic level. Once I go anaerobic for too long, I am toast.
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Old 12-12-01, 12:01 AM   #14
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Wow! I know everyone is different, but, I often ride by myself and can sit at 165 for ever. Even sitting on some ones wheel I'll get down to 155. My Cateye doesn't beep, it flashes at me when outside the upper and lower limits. It really is nice and has served me well over all these years.
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Old 12-12-01, 06:49 AM   #15
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What about the above zone and below alarms?
All HRMs I've seen have out-of-zone audible alarms that can be turned on and off and visual indicators, like flashing heart rate when out of zone.

I set mine before each ride depending on what zone I'm "training" in and my goal.

I think many people who own or are thinking about buying an HRM don't know how to use one. They don't understand training in various zones, the benefits, what the numbers mean, etc. And they don't record the data from each ride (outdoor or indoor) so they can track their progress.
An HRM is a "training" tool. It helps you to know how your fitness in changing, improving speed, climbing, weight loss, etc. Knowing what the number mean is the key.

I would recommend that anyone considering buying an HRM, first buy a book on using it. I did! Then they can intelligently decide on what features they want in an HRM.

FYI: The Sports Instruments models come with a short introductory manual entitled, Sally Edwards Training Guide - Heart Zone Training for Fitness. It explains F I T or frequency, intensity, and time. It also gives a better formula for calculating maximum heart rate, from which zones are calculated.
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Old 12-12-01, 03:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by RonH

I think many people who own or are thinking about buying an HRM don't know how to use one. They don't understand training in various zones, the benefits, what the numbers mean, etc. And they don't record the data from each ride (outdoor or indoor) so they can track their progress.
An HRM is a "training" tool. It helps you to know how your fitness in changing, improving speed, climbing, weight loss, etc. Knowing what the number mean is the key.

I would recommend that anyone considering buying an HRM, first buy a book on using it. I did! Then they can intelligently decide on what features they want in an HRM.

FYI: The Sports Instruments models come with a short introductory manual entitled, Sally Edwards Training Guide - Heart Zone Training for Fitness. It explains F I T or frequency, intensity, and time. It also gives a better formula for calculating maximum heart rate, from which zones are calculated.
Ron, I have to take issue with a few things you say here. Not in an unfriendly way, mind you. Since I'm new here I don't want to come off as combative.

I get the impression that when you say, "I think many people who own or are thinking about buying an HRM don't know how to use one," you should add, "Like I do," to the end of the sentence.

I say this because I feel that any training is personal and what you get out of it is what you want to get out of it. I set my HRM at just about the same limits every day because my goal, even after 2 years of riding, is to stay above a low zone point (which is easy) and to not go too hard. Most importantly of the 2 is to not go too hard, which really ended up being my undoing in year 1 (last year) of serious road riding - I had overtrained big time and burned out because every day I wanted to go faster than the last.

I think if you get anything out of the HRM, then it's worth it. One might say that if all you get out of it is that it keeps you from going too hard, it's a waste of money. Well, I use it for more than that and really it has allowed me to get in shape to do centuries on back to back weekends this past spring. It trained me to be able to go for long rides without bonking.

You mention other factors of the HRM. As long as I maintain that particular zone, I can track my fitness level (harder to hit that upper zone), speed (average ride speed), climbing (hey, I used to go out of zone on this hill), weight loss (the scale no longer groans), etc. All of those bits are attainable by using the HRM as a very simple tool.

One thing that motivates this diatribe is that if people get too caught up in the stats of a HRM, they will not use it. How many electronic items do people throw in the corner because they are intimidated by them?

I bought a Sally Edwards book this summer and there were some items that I just did not think were nailed down very well. I thought there were errors in the text and inconsistencies. Since I have not picked it up since the summer, I can't cite specific ones. I was just disappointed in the admittedly limited amount of text that I read.

I guess my main point here is that there are no set ways to really use a HRM and call it right or wrong. Like I said, I have not gone into the specific training zones very much since I gave them up in mid-spring but I have lost weight, gotten fitter, gotten stronger, conquered rides I once thought impossible, gotten better on hills, and such.
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Old 12-12-01, 04:07 PM   #17
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I think many people who own or are thinking about buying an HRM don't know how to use one. They don't understand training in various zones, the benefits, what the numbers mean, etc. And they don't record the data from each ride (outdoor or indoor) so they can track their progress.
An HRM is a "training" tool. It helps you to know how your fitness in changing, improving speed, climbing, weight loss, etc. Knowing what the number mean is the key.
It sort of depends on what your personal goals are and why you want to ride, doesn't it?

Not all of us are in any way interested in high-level training, recording our data each time or any of the other things you mention.

Personally, I find using the HRM an interesting way to get a feel for how I am doing. I.e., I can climb the same hill at the same speed and record my HR and see if it is slower or faster (I can do this from memory). Also, I use it to check my recovery time, ocasionally.

But, if I had to follow your suggested routine, it would take all the joy of riding away. And, besides, I only paid $49.50 for mine, so I don't feel some sort of "obligation" to use it because of the cost.

I would agree with the previous poster who asked you to add "like I do"
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