Functions of Heart Rate Monitors


Heart rate monitors can be useful aid to training. They can show how hard you are training and what kind of progress you are making.

  • Your resting heart rate can also gives signs of illness or over training (a high heart rate in the morning means the body is working harder to deal with recovery)
  • Heart rate monitors can offer useful guidance to progress in training. If you wish to do interval training or train at a certain level of aerobic fitness then heart rate monitors can be invaluable.
  • Heart rate monitors can prevent you over-training. For example, on recovery days you can check to make sure you don’t go over a set target heart rate zone.
  • Also, it can be a way of gauging interval training to make sure you really train at your target level for the right time.
  • It is important to be aware of their limitations. For example, your heart rate can vary depending on weather (on cold days it will be typically lower)
  • There is an article here about the advantages and disadvantages of using heart rate monitors for cycle training. – training with heart rate monitors

Functions of Heart Rate Monitors

  • Displaying current Heart rate. This does 80% of what you need from a heart rate monitor. If you want to test whether you will benefit from a heart rate monitor, don’t worry about buying the bottom of the range heart rate which gives you just the current heart rate
  • Target training zones. You can set a target training zone and it can start beeping if you go out of those zones. Personally I find this a little annoying. Also, I don’t feel the need to stick so rigidly to heart rate targets.
  • Average Heart Rate / Maximum Heart rate
  • Downloadable data giving complete record of training session.
  • GPS Sensors. More recent heart rate monitors have been able to incorporate GPS data so you can plot your altitude and distance.
  • Calories used – people often want to know how much calories they have burned, but even with your weight, sex and other data entered, you have to treat this with some scepticism.

Finding Maximum Heart Rate

A rough guide is 214-(0.8 x age) for men, and 209-(0.9 x age) for women. e.g. at 34, my maximum heart rate is in theory 186, though in practise I have reached 195.

But, the good thing about a heart rate monitor is that you will be able to find it by undergoing a suitable test of racing to your limit.

Different Types of Heart Rate Monitors

At the low end of the market, you can get a basic heart rate monitor which just displays your heart rate.

Book CoverThe Smart Heart Rate monitor £32

Polar, is the most popular brand of heart rate monitor. The starting part of the brand is the Polar F5. At £45. it offers a reliable guide to your heart rate, but, only a small number of features, such as setting different training zones. More info on Polar F5

Because Polar is the market leader, you will end up paying a premium for the brand name. There are cheaper alternatives for a basic heart rate monitor, such as, Oregon Heart Rate Monitor 

Cycle Specific Heart Rate Monitor Polar CS 100

I tested this heart rate monitor from Polar: see review: Polar CS100

I like it because it has cadence and doubles as a speedometer as well as heart rate monitor


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