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Best Ways to Use Your Heart Monitor

by Staff Writer

Couple gets their heart rate up

A heart-rate monitor is one of the most useful pieces of exercise equipment you can buy. And while it is very easy to strap on your heart monitor and measure your heart rate, you may not be getting the most out of your heart monitor. Depending on what benefits you want to get out of your workout, you will want your heart rate to be in a different range. Knowing the heart-rate target zones will help you benefit the most from your workouts. And many heart-rate monitors can be set to trigger an alarm when you reach or leave a heart-rate zone, letting you focus on your training.

Heart-rate Zones:

  1. Fat-burning zone: The fat-burning zone is reached at 60 percent to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Although you'll burn fat in all these heart-rate zones, the fat-burning zone is named that because it is the zone in which the largest percentage of calories burned come from fat. This zone is reached through brisk walking, a light jog or an easy bike ride.

  2. Cardio or aerobic zone: The aerobic zone is found at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart-rate. In this zone, you are burning a 50-50 mix of carbohydrates and fat. This heart-rate zone is best for training for endurance events, as this is the optimal heart-rate zone for improving the health of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

  3. Anaerobic zone: The anaerobic zone is found above 80 percent of you maximum heart rate. Exercising in this zone improves your body's ability to use oxygen while exercising. Working out at this intensity also improves your body's ability to deal with the lactic acid that is produced and causes muscle soreness and feelings of muscular fatigue.

Heart Monitor Tips:

  1. Although max heart-rate can be estimated based on age, it is best to use your heart-rate monitor to accurately find your max heart-rate. After warming up and exercising in the cardio range for a few minutes, increase your intensity to the highest level you can maintain for two minutes. You should be at or very near your max heart-rate at this point.

  2. It is best to spend some time exercising in each of these zones, but focus on what will give you the health benefits you are looking for.

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