An exercise plateau can happen to anyone who commits to a consistent exercise programme. Eventually, your body adjusts to the activities you are performing and to the level at which you exercise. In order to keep pushing forward and seeing changes in your body composition, the variables need to change.
For many people, monitoring their heart rate is a great place to start when trying to break through this plateau. Heart rate monitoring can increase overall fitness and calorie-burn, help you become more efficient at your workouts and assists with keeping tabs on any medical conditions which require heart rate monitoring.
By wearing a heart rate monitor, you can make sure you're pushing hard enough when you need to (like during high-intensity intervals, when you want to be giving it your all), and recovering enough when you need to (for example during the recovery section of an interval workout or a lower-intensity day).
To make the most of the information a heart-rate monitor gives you, start by calculating your maximum heart rate. All of the heart rate monitors will figure this out for you after the user inputs some basic information, but in case you are curious about the process, here is one method to determine various levels of exercise heart rates.
Figure out your maximum heart rate (MHR) = 220 - (0.7 x your age)
Low-intensity cardio = between (.6 x MHR) and (.7 x MHR)
Moderate-intensity cardio = between (.7 x MHR) and (.85 x MHR)
High-intensity cardio = (.85 x MHR) and above.
Example: 41-year-old woman
MHR = 220 - (0.7 x 41) = 191.3 maximum heart rate
Low-intensity cardio = exercise between 114-133 beats per minute
Moderate-intensity cardio = exercise between 133-162 beats per minute
High-intensity cardio = exercise 162+ beats per minute (never above MHR)
Things to consider when shopping for a heart rate monitor:
• Chest strap heart rate monitors are the most accurate for reading resting and exercise heart rates.
• If the idea of having to wear a watch and a chest strap does not appeal to you, then the newer fitness watches have a heart rate monitor that reads the pulse off of your wrist. Even though these are not as accurate as the chest strap models, they still provide a satisfactory measure of resting and exercise heart rates.
• The most important thing is to pick the product you are most likely to use.