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How Should You Use a Heart Rate Monitor: The Basics

How Should You Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Latest Update: April 24, 2019

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How should you use a heart rate monitor? We all know that heart rate monitors are great to be used on any workouts and sports activities.

In that way, you can track how your heart is doing and it can help you know your limits. For those who are doing strength training, it is also very beneficial because you will know if your performance is strong and consistent.

So let us say you already have your heart rate monitor, what can you do with it? Some heart rate monitors are very simple while others have a lot of settings that might leave you confused.

Do not fret because we are here to help you. We are going to discuss the benefits of having a heart rate monitor as well as properly using it.

What Is a Heart Rate Monitor?

Simply put, a heart rate monitor is just a pacer. It can help you determine how intense your activity is. Once you determine that intensity, then you can decide if you need to speed up or slow down.


In general, there are two types of heart rate monitors. The first type is a wrist heart rate monitor. It makes use of the pulse that is felt on your wrist to measure the rate.

This is great to be used in activities where you do not need to move the front part of your upper body. Such activities include cycling, running, and the likes. This is the case because the heart rate monitor will not be a hindrance to your movements.

The second type is the chest heart rate monitor. This kind can provide better results in terms of accuracy. The reason behind this is that the rate is measured by the pulse that is felt on your chest, which is closer to your heart. This will be ideal for activities that require a lot of activity on your upper body like swimming and rowing.


Before you can properly appreciate your heart rate monitor, you should be familiar with the values that can be seen and also understand what they are. Let us take a look at them.

  • Target zones: This has a lot to do with the parameters of your exercise. Usually, the more advanced heart rate monitors have three to six target zones. But if what you have is only one, then that is also not a problem. You just have to adjust the target zone based on the activity that you are doing.
  • Sport watch: This is simply another device that you can sync with your heart rate monitor. It displays the calendar, alarm, clock, and the countdown timer.
  • Speed and distance motor: This is where the speed is calculated and the distance is measured based on your workout. This is done with the use of a GPS receiver. It also has a foot pod which is used as an accelerometer and can help in measuring the length with each stride.
  • Digital interface: This is where you can connect your heart rate monitor so that you can sync data to your smartphone applications or to the computer. You can also use this in order to download training statistics.
  • Coded transmitter: This is where the transmissions are encrypted from your heart monitor to the chest or wrist strap sensor. In this way, you will not get false readings from crosstalk.

How Should You Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

It is very simple to use a heart rate monitor. All you have to do is to measure your heart rate with the transmitter, which is already on your wrist or chest. This is all held together by the strap.

It will detect electrical activity and it is then relayed to the wristwatch, sports watch, or whatever you have. You can then see the result on the display.

See how simple it is? Now, the next part is how you can interpret this reading. Here is a guide on the different readings:

  • Resting Heart Rate

This is your heart beats per minute during the time when you are relaxed. This can be measured when you just got out of bed or when you are sitting comfortably.

This can vary depending on the individual. For men, it is usually 60 to 80 beats per minute, while for women, it is 70 to 90 beats per minute.

  • Maximum Heart Rate

This is the number of beats at their peak. You can get this value when you have pushed your heart to its limit, but also not at its breaking point. This can be usually measured when you are doing an aerobic workout, endurance tests, and the likes.

  • Training Heart Rate

This is the rate that you maintain while doing strenuous activity. This is usually where you calibrate your heart rate monitor so that it has a proper gauge on your rhythmic pace. In this way, you can get consistent and accurate results every time you use it.

  • Recovery Heart Rate

This is the rate of your heart beats when you are resting after a workout. Of course, you should always give your body proper rest. Usually, this is 20 beats per minute for both men and women.

Recording your resting heart rate is also important. Through this, you would know that your heart is properly slowing down once you are done with your workout. If you have fluctuating results, then you are not doing your recovery workout properly.

Final Thoughts

Now, you can easily answer the question “How should you use a heart rate monitor?”. There is really not much to it in getting that measure, but it has a lot to do with working with the features that it already has.

If you set the settings well before calibrating the monitor, then more likely than not, your heart rate monitor will always give you accurate and consistent results. Just remember to take note of the different heart rates and also program them in your heart rate monitor.

That way, your monitor has a standard gauge and will alert you if you are pushing yourself too much or if your heart beats per minute are too slow. Lastly, remember to always place them properly on your wrist or around your chest.

Date Published: May 2, 2019

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