Simply wearing your heart rate monitor is not enough. While they are some of the most popular tools for athletes who want to track and improve their fitness, you’ll have to make sure you’re wearing yours properly if you want to reap its full range of benefits!
So, if you’re struggling to get your heart rate monitor on properly, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to teach you how to wear yours properly, as well as break down some of the benefits of these innovative devices. Read on for more information.
Make Sure it’s Right Side Up
Thanks to some of the most popular fitness tracking companies, like Fitbit and Polar, wrist-mounted optical heart rate monitors are becoming more and more popular. However, for cyclists, the chest strap monitor is still the best of the best.
Unfortunately, if you wear this heart rate monitor incorrectly, you’ll likely receive inaccurate readings. To avoid this, ensure that the monitor is strapped snugly across your chest, with the sensor centered in your chest.
Your heart rate monitor should also be right-side up. It won’t work as well as possible if you wear it upside down, and you’ll likely get inaccurate readings.
Wet the Strap Fully Before Wearing
If you take a while to break into a sweat while working out, or you are exercising in dry, cool weather, your heart rate readings may be spiky or faulty, especially at the beginning of your exercise. To avoid this, make sure your strap is slightly damp before you begin – even if you are working out in wet conditions already.
While your monitor will still work even if you just wet the electrodes, wetting the entire front of the strap is still best practice.
Wash the Strap Regularly
If you do not wash your heart rate monitor regularly enough, you could develop what is known as acne mechanica as a result of the device constantly rubbing on your skin. However, keeping your monitor clean isn’t just about hygiene. It can also influence how accurate your monitor reads.
Dirt can negatively influence the elasticity of your monitor, as well as the overall accuracy of the sensor. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website for the washing method that you should use when you clean your monitor.
Some straps can be washed in a regular washing machine, though there are models that can only be washed by hand – safely, at least.
Account For Effort Changes
When you make a sudden change in your level of exertion, your heart rate is not going to shoot up immediately. Many people who are training with a heart rate monitor make the mistake of starting their intervals too hard in an attempt to reach their target rate.
Instead, it would be best if you gave yourself a few minutes to climb to this target range gradually. Because of this lag, it’s important to remember that reading your heart rate is not a highly effective method of gauging your efforts in less than one minute.
How Heart Rate Monitors Work
Chest strap heart rate monitors operate using electrode sensors. They have sensors that can detect the electrical activity of your heart as it beats, which it then interprets to provide you with a breakdown of your current BPM.
You’ll often find that these chest straps are made from fabric, elastic, or plastic, with the sensors embedded in the strap or pressed against the skin. Interestingly, many cardio machines in the gym have integrated heart rate monitoring, which they will use to alter the intensity of your workout automatically based on your current heart rate.
Wearable heart rate monitors read the intensity of your exercises so that you can know if you are achieving your target effort level. Heart rate monitors use electrodes to track your heart rate continuously, allowing you to work out without having to stop and check your pulse.
Many modern heart rate monitors are quite accurate, especially when you are performing moderate-intensity exercises. Wearables, like those you strap to your wrist, however, are slightly less accurate than their chest-strap counterparts. This is especially true when you are performing intense workouts.
These days, most monitors come with indicators that show you whether you are achieving your target heart rate zone, providing you with visual or audio cues when you are above or below this zone. Such alerts are either presented via a smartphone app or integrated into the device itself.
This means that you can adjust your workout on the go to get to your target heart rate by speeding up, slowing down, changing resistance, or altering your incline.
One of the great things about most modern heart rate monitors is that they save and display graphs that represent your workouts. These graphs feature speed, time, elevation, and other metrics that are recorded while you are exercising.
Are Heart Rate Monitors Necessary?
While using one of these devices is certainly not an absolute necessity for everyone, they can be great tools for all athletes. Even if you use one temporarily, it can help you gain a better understanding of how you feel at certain heart rates, allowing you to better judge your limitations and exercise tolerance.
Heart rate monitors are also useful for people who are new to working out, as they help you set limits and monitor your progress. Generally speaking, these devices are never bad ideas.
But, it can be useful to pay close attention to your body rather than only relying on an external monitor for feedback. Instead, your heart rate monitor should only serve as an auxiliary tool to help you set and achieve your goals and establish a target heart rate zone.
Wearing a heart rate monitor chest strap correctly is vital to gaining accurate information about your body and fitness. With the above guide, you now know exactly how to wear one and how to fit it properly to your chest. Happy exercising!