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  1. #1
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    Are heart monitors really that necessary?

    I've been thinking of getting one. Being almost 42 I want to keep my working heart rate btween 125 and 135 during workouts as well as rides. But riding 1 or 2 times a week and hitting the gym maybe 3 times a week would it really matter? And, at what point would it matter?

  2. #2
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    It might help, certainly isn't necessary, and might do more harm than good without more knowledge about your heart rate. I'd suggest "The Heart Rate Monitor Book for Cyclists" by Sally Edwards. You need to determine your own max heart rate, anaerobic threshold etc. before you can know at what rates to train for what goals.

    -s

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    they are a handy way to structure your workouts.
    The price has come down that you can get lots of features under $100 now,
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
    etc

  4. #4
    Climb on my trusty steed BeTheChange's Avatar
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    For me I like wearing mine just to keep an eye on how hard I'm working. Because once I get going I sometimes work too hard and wear myself out to quickly when I'm trying to get in some base miles.

    It isn't necessary, but it's nice to know how hard you are working for what you are doing. Makes my rides more enjoyable.
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
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  5. #5
    dp/dt pablo27's Avatar
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    i think that you do need one to know what energy system you're predominantly using at a given time while riding... you're not gonna stop to take your pulse

    also for gaging fitness with rest heart rate, but you can do this without hrm

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    Necessary? No, of course not. But it's a great tool to have. I'm 45, been using one the past five months, first for spin classes, then rollers, now out on the rode. Been pretty amazed at the difference between my perceived rate of exertion and what the monitor reads. If you're trying to keep your heart rate in a specific range, it's a great way to go.

  7. #7
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    I bought one about a year ago, used it for a while, but haven't for three or four months now... well the watch stays on the wrist, but the transmitter strap stays in the drawer.

    I could have been really banal and used it for every ride I did -- and seeing I don't own a car and ride just about everywhere, that would have been a lot. I didn't want to become a slave to it.

    There is what is called the Borg scale of perceived exertion. It's rated (depending on its variants) from 1 to 10 or 15. Each level indicates a physical and emotional feeling based on the intensity of the work you are doing.

    For people like me who aren't into really intensive training (long distance and stamina are more important for me), the HRM is handy to help put the Borg scale into perspective. That long-distance thing also brought out limitations in the HRM, which stops recording data after 16 hours.

    If you are a nerd, however, and love statistics, the HRM may be your cycling god-send.

  8. #8
    Pat
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    A heart rate monitor is another thing to play with when you are on the bike. Cyclists love playing with things. Well virtually any cyclist I know does. And a heart rate monitor does help you track work outs. It can come in handy in various ways. So it is worth getting but one can do without one very nicely too. Not essential, but nice to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TR-X
    I've been thinking of getting one. Being almost 42 I want to keep my working heart rate btween 125 and 135 during workouts as well as rides. But riding 1 or 2 times a week and hitting the gym maybe 3 times a week would it really matter? And, at what point would it matter?

    If you ride by the numbers, then it's the only way you'll know that you are riding in that range. I got one to make sure that I don't over exert in the high humidity/heat of Florida during the summer. I also use it sometimes to make sure I'm exerting myself enough when I'm preparing to ride in the mountains. That said, I could easily live with out it. It all depends on your objectives for riding/exercising and how much clutter you are willing to put up with.

    Al

  10. #10
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    I have mixed emotions about HRMs. On side of me says they're not needed, just get on the bike and ride and let your body deal with it as it will. Of course I thought like that several years ago when I was younger and in much better shape. These days I do use a HRM when walking, biking, and running. I use it mostly when walking to make sure I'm not loafing off and get some cardio out of the time I spend out walking. I say make a list of the things that are important to you (Max HR for workout, Average HR for workout, etc) and then find the cheapest HRM that meets your needs and give it a try.

    I have a Polar 625 on the way and I'm looking forward to using it. One feature it has that I'm really looking forward to using is % of max HR display.

  11. #11
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    It's easy to go too hard. When I use an HRM these days, I mostly use it for the Out of Zone alarm to keep from overtraining. So cheap is good, but I'd get one with a zone alarm.

  12. #12
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    I look at it like this first you need to know what your max HR is (stress test) and not based on any formula. There is so much left out of the formulas like Karvonens. Its based on age with a RHR to get pluged into a number (220). People get hooked on a HR number that may totally be not their correct zone whether training anaerobically or aerobically. I am not saying that they are not usefull but not as a day to day training aid. They are more like a "see what kind of numbers I can get at the end of a macro cycle keeping strictly the same diet, exercise, sleep, stress, hydration , Hill/flat ect...". Think about this have you ever had a day when 150 feels great and a day when it feels like you are not going to last very long?
    This is what I suggest -train with in a RPE and then look at the numbers- over time see if you can get a number that is higher that you feel like you can last longer at. Karvonens is only good for 30 percent of the population and if you get stuck on a number for fear that you are going to train out of your zone you may be doing yourself harm or not doing anything worth while. The new rage right now is power meters. still a little exspensive but coming down.
    Velocity

  13. #13
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocity
    I look at it like this first you need to know what your max HR is (stress test) and not based on any formula.
    I' want to make the general comment that max. heart rate is not a very useful number for training purposes any way. The important number is lactate threshold. All heart rate training zones are relative to LT, or sometimes VO2max.

    A brief description of the zones, relative to LT:

    http://www.ultracycling.com/training...ing_zones.html
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  14. #14
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    The problem is that to know that number you need to get tested. and then there are power meters.

  15. #15
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    heart rate monitor's are ok. seem to be pretty useful tools. at least for me, it doesn't really tell me much i didn't allready know. it just is a little more accurate than: 'wow, i'm getting pretty tired very quickly', or, 'this is easy', etc. it is something to occupy your mind when sitting in the gym on the spinner for an hour.

    i think the fun part of HR monitors is wearing it during your normal activities. like wear it to class, or when cooking dinner, etc. the most fun is when i go out to bars. alcohol really messes w/ my HR, and it's funny to look at it when you get into an argument w/ someone. or if you kiss a pretty girl, it shoots up. i get more of a kick out of using it for those purposes than it's 'intended' purpopse.

  16. #16
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    Just curious why you want to keep your HR in such a narrow and low range of 120-135? Are you on a medical HR restriction?

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    Quote Originally Posted by altoption
    Been pretty amazed at the difference between my perceived rate of exertion and what the monitor reads.
    Amazed how? Your HR is higher than your PE or lower?

    Many people do not know their true max HR and thus use the "formula". Since most people use HR monitors by working in zones based on a % of max HR, the zones can be way off if the athlete's true max HR is significantly different that the theoritical formula.

    I know there are LT and other formula's for training with a HR monitor, but let's face it the vast majority of HR monitor users will base their zones on the "formula".

  18. #18
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i think it's good to have an idea of what the different heart rate zones feel like. after i got mine, i used it a few times to figure out where i was, and now i can pretty much tell what zone i am in by feel.

    sometimes i put it on when i ride the trainer and want to do intervals, but i usually don't use it out on the road. i find it distracting.

  19. #19
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Well, being on beta blockers and having atrial fibrillation, a HRM doesn't have any purpose for me at all! So, I am having to use a perceived rate of exertion and sort of comparing my speed and ease of climbing, etc., with before September.

    But, I did sort of like having one prior to the AFib.

    One of the interesting things I found out is that after really exerting myself on a hill climb, I needed to be careful to really "cool down" or my heart rate would INCREASE after stopping suddenly. So, I did learn the imporatnce of gradually tapering my exertion.

    Really serious training folks are now likely to use the much more expensive power meters.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaadDawg
    Just curious why you want to keep your HR in such a narrow and low range of 120-135? Are you on a medical HR restriction?

    No medical restrictions. According to the 220-age formula that would be my fat burn zone. I want to lose about 20lbs without losing muscle mass. And a trainer at the gym told me that should do it.
    But if and when I get in better shape I'll re-evaluate my training.

  21. #21
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    I would do quite a bit of research into this fat burning zone stuff. Seems to me if you have no medical restrictions and you limit yourself to such low HR's as your primary workout your fitness will take forever to improve significantly.

    Sorry there are no easy way outs as far as getting in shape goes. And the 220 minus your age is wrong for a large perecntage of the population.

    All depends on what your goals are I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TR-X
    No medical restrictions. According to the 220-age formula that would be my fat burn zone. I want to lose about 20lbs without losing muscle mass. And a trainer at the gym told me that should do it.
    But if and when I get in better shape I'll re-evaluate my training.

    I think there's some confusion about the fat burning zone. The "zone" trains your body to burn fat at higher effort levels so your body can run longer on it's stored sugars. This is very important for long distance riders/racers. Weight loss is just calories in minus calories out. For weight loss, it doesn't matter whether you are in the fat burning zone or not.

    If you bike with out weight training or other weight bearing exercises like possibly jogging, you will lose muscle mass. You lose muscle mass (and bone density) because your weight is supported by the saddle. Those mountain bikers who ride mostly off the saddle don't have that problem.

    Al

  23. #23
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    Sounds like I have to undate my knowledge about training.
    Thanks guys. Good stuff

  24. #24
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    some have this mislead thought that you burn fat dirrectly from storeage- ain't so peeps.
    Velocity

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    I say yes, it helps and I'm "old school" at 39. I picked up a cheap HRM that just shows the rate to see for myself. I figured I was getting a good workout on perceived effort but much to my amazement I'm a slacker working out at only 120BPM when I should be going at 140. I feel the improvement from ride to ride when working using a HRM. ALthough it seems to take about twice as much effort to go from 120 bpm to 140pbm.

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