Teach me about Heart Rate Monitors
Please teach me about heart rate monitors. I've heard that at a certain heart rate I will burn more fat, is this true? Do I need one of these? Are these only for the serious competitors? Since I'm losing weight I want to make sure I'm training correctly, to improve my riding and my weight lost. Thanks
This is a big topic.
Do you need one of these HRMs? Almost. A monitor is a tool that gives you information about your fitness, and you can track that information over time to gauge progress.
Are these only for serious competitors? No. I have one. I got one to better manage how I ride for fitness, and it makes it easier to moderate my effort. When I have been out of shape, my natural tendency is to ride too hard, but a HRM lets you know immediately to let up. Once you get used to the monitor and the information it gives, you learn to set it for other workouts and the benefit is having precisely-set bounds on your workout. It removes a lot of guessing and therefore inefficiency from your workouts.
As for burning fat, it's not that you burn "more fat" at lower exertion levels, but rather more of the energy you need comes from fat, and it's about 80-85%. At higher exertion levels, energy is coming mostly from sugar, while fat only contributes, say, 20%. You could do a workout such that it was high exertion and long enough to burn more fat (in terms of total mass), but "it depends" and for general fitness, the lower aerobic zones will indeed burn more fat.
I'm sure there are books out there targeted at weight loss/general fitness with HRMs, but I don't know any offhand. One book focused on training is Edmund Burke's "Precision Heart Rate Training" which offers introductory information about HRMs and their rationale, and each chapter covers HRM application to a particular activity. The author of the cycling chapter, Joe Friel, has a number of HRM books of his own (like "Total Heart Rate Training"). The Polar websites (www.polar.fi and www.polarusa.com) have a lot of useful information.
Again, this is a big topic, and I hope this post is helpful.
I've not had good luck with the HR monitor. It seems that every two weeks, like clockwork, the battery weakens and/or just dies I don't really see the benefit for me personally so I don't use it anymore. I put the cadence monitor on the road bike and I think that's a great training tool but I wouldn't use it on the mountain bike. Matt
I should be out riding....