T Nation

Heart Rate Monitor


Hi friends,

Im officially off T-Nation duties, but I have dropped by to see what my fellow t-people feel about heart rate monitors. Are they useful? What is the best kind? How do you use them?

I would like one that I could use on my bike and for running aswell. I was told there are some that will also count the distance that you cover aswell?



Garmin or Timex

I liked it, as it graphed my progress.

Also, on a almost similar note, taking your HB first thing in the morning, is still one of the best way to track your progress.



that's my experience.


So how exactly would I make use of one? What am I monitoring? What am I aiming to do?

Before you ask; Im about to start preseason for next years soccer season and my goal is to increase aerobic capacity, which I will be achieving by riding a bike and some running.



It measures your distance, altitude, HR, speed, time.

Everything you need to graph your progress.


i wonder how much george best and pele rode???


Probably not at all. I mainly ride my bike in the preseason. Im a mature age player and have to think outside of the square in terms of how to increase my fitness and not destroy all of my joints at the same time. I have actually found that the carry-over from bike fitness to general running around fitness strong. Also the bike is ideal for recovery work aswell.



I bought a Garmin Forerunner a few years back. I ended up throwing the heartbeat monitor part away and just use the GPS watch to track miles, elevation, and for geocaching.


Im looking to buy a garmin. Does anyone know if it will record the distance I travel on a bike aswell as running?




Just go to a store that sells them and ask for a demo. Some have bike attachments, some don't. I know my Garmin works with my bike with no attachments. In other words, it doesn't record your rpm


Garmin wrist GPS units are actual GPS units. They record distances traveled whether on foot, swimming, bike, car, or by snail. It's not a pedometer.


POLAR with garmin as distant second. they do a great job and are easily downloaded into Polar's training log.
I am on my third one in 20 years so they do hold up well. I use mine for prowler pushes, rowing training and mtb/road cycling about 5 days a week and they hold up fairly well.


KillerDIRK- I just read a bunch of reviews on the net, and they all say garmin kicks polars ass.



[quote]theBird wrote:
KillerDIRK- I just read a bunch of reviews on the net, and they all say garmin kicks polars ass.

garmin has come a long way with their HRM technology. My only problem with them is when you get under a canopy of trees and the gps starts to give out. That is why garmin still offers a wheel magnet pick-up
for bicycles. Polar has never had this problem as they stayed with magnets for both speed/distance and cadence.

Either will kick ass. Look at the end use, all of the functions that you will use, Make an informed decision from that point and purchase accordingly : )


Dirk -

Ive trained for numerous ultra endurance races (buke, run, triathlon) with a heart rate monitor. My opinion is that all you need is a standard one that shows HR and maybe a stop watch type function. Your trying to increase you aerobic capacity so you all you need to know is when your in the anerobic/aerobic zone. Do you need to know how far your running? How much elevation you just climbed? Probably not so there is no use spending the $$ on one that tracks those figures.

Good luck.


Hey kenclark, I have been using the Polar brand since 1990 and have been very pleased with them. I am first and foremost a competitive cyclist then strength athlete. When you have two ways to go (uphill or down) it is nice to know how much climbing you have done over a course.

Being that I work with Meb Keflizighi (NYC Marathon winner '09), yes it is very important to know how far you run or cycle or swim. Otherwise how do you put together a proper training program. Unless all you do it for is to "get fit".

What makes elite athletes elite is their attention to detail down to the second or meter or kilo and their consistency in doing so...PREDICATION...Meb in the top 5 !


I agree with both killerDIRK and kenclark. I have the cheapest Polar watch that can be bought I believe, the FT7. What does it do? Just measures calories burned, heart rate of course, how long the session is, and takes note of when the training session took place. Comes with a simple chest attachment, and watch. If you'd like, there's even an extra piece that allows you to upload all the data online so you can also track it with your computer. Since I'm a cheap bastard, I just write all the info down manually.

It all comes down to your goals. I'm not training for anything in particular, just trying to improve/maintain my cardiovascular system, so this fits me perfectly. When I run outside, I just turn on this additional app I have on my iPhone that works like a GPS to see how far I've ran and also records the elevation.

@theBIRD I'd say just research several ones, and based on that purchase one that fits you. Seeing as how I almost purchased the FT80 or one of those $300 ones that did more than what I needed.

EDIT: Just realized you also made this post almost a month ago, did you end up purchasing anything yet? lol


Hi jldume,

Thanks for the info. I hvent purchased one as I am still recovering from a severe adductor strain. It has been 6 weeks, and by the way things are going, I wont be running for atleast another 3 weeks. Im probably going to purchase onr in December or January.

My main aim of such a gadget is so I can monitor my progress, as I am loooking to increase my running fitness for next season.



killerDirk -

Sorry for the confusion, I meant to direct my recent reply to Thebird. Totally agree with you in that a competitive cyclist would want to know the climbing ditance to plan the program that will get them properly trained. With Thebird I think he would want a basic one since he needs to know what zone he is in for his "aerobic/anerobic" training and his "distance" trained would not be as important.

Good luck with your racing.


I do not use a heart-rate monitor. If you know or even understand some basics about human physiology and how it adapts to training you can get what you need with a well thought out work-out program. However I do think it's important to check your resting heart rate once in awhile to see that it's getting lower and lower. If you are truly getting fitter, it should be.

you want to be working your v02 max, anaerobic capacity/threshold, cardio-vascular conditioning. I don't know where my heart-rate is when I do sprint intervals for example (it would cut into valuable time where I could be walking or running, concentrating on recovery before the next interval) but hell, if i'm about to puke, if my vision starts going shaky(draining of color) if it feels like i'm about to give out and push through it, trust me your heart-rate is where it needs to be.

My resting heart rate is now 52, down from around 60 from about a year ago. I hope to get it down to 49 at least. (trekking through hellish snow for miles seems great for this).

Also looking into other professional athletes. I thought for awhile that sprinting was the best way to increase v02 max, then I found out some professional "hikers" who hike for miles and miles with heavy loads seem to have incredible vo2 max, very low resting heart rates, incorporated that on some days when I wasn't sprinting.

I think there's a lot better ways then monitoring your heart rate. When training for running I have to do all I can to push through the pain, the nausea, sometimes to not black out. That takes all the concentration I have.

When you really get going it's all you can hear, your heart pounding in your head. Now if you have heart-problems or etc, sure good idea. You should be able to get a natural "feel" for where your heart-rate is after awhile. If your in the "proper" zone.

Hell one even came with a set of nordic "walking sticks" I bought. never touched it. Another insane workout that translates into better running. Running with the nordic sticks with weight, uphill again and again.

Or for example in weight-lifting. I know I have a good heart-rate going after a set of 30squats because i'm drenched in sweat, pouring sweat like I've been sprinting intervals, my vision is kind of "fading back in", I can hear my heart beating in my head, I know my heart-rate is where it "needs" to be.

I concentrate more on the time of the run or bike-ride, that you are progressively getting better on a "timed" loop or some-thing. Though a lot of runners say even that is questionable, that you should train against "yourself"

I'd say keep a log, make sure you keep records of your exact time. An ironman triathlon watch will give you a 50lap memory, some interval timers, a stop-watch, all that you really need. When you look over a 1mile or 6mile(or longer for a bike) "loop" or "track" and how well you've run or biked or etc it over the last 50 times, and keep logs of nutrition, training schedules, etc you can get a really good idea of what's going on and what helps, what doesn't.

I don't train for marathons though, just to run the mile as fast as I can, to be a powerful sprinter, and a good 6-10mile runner. A marathon would probably kill me.