If you’re trying to get fit, there’s no quicker way to failure than to not track your progress. Yet, most people who are motivated to do something fail to do this one simple thing. You see it all the time. People running on treadmills at the gym, lifting weights, or even walking, but failing to account for how much time they spend doing these activities, what progress they’re making, and how they feel. This is one time you don’t want to join the crowd. Track your progress.
A heart monitor can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body. When you wear one, it will tell you your resting heart rate as well as your heart rate while working out. Knowing this information can be pretty useful too, especially if you’re doing any cardio work.
If your resting heart rate is between 60 and 90, it’s considered “normal.” Anything over 100 beats per minute (BPM) is considered high, and you should get yourself checked out by a doctor immediately before starting any exercise routine.
It’s a good idea to track your heart rate while doing cardio. You want to remain in your target range for the entire time you’re working out. First, take your resting heart rate when you get up in the morning. Count your pulse for one minute while you’re still in bed. Average your heart rate over three mornings to get your daily average resting heart rate.
Next, subtract your age from 220. This is your maximum heart rate. If your heart rate exceeds this number (BPM), you’re over-exerting yourself and you need to stop immediately. So, for example, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum acceptable heart rate would be 190 BPM.
Now, subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. This is your heart rate reserve. To calculate your target heart rate range, multiply your maximum heart rate reserve by 60 percent. Then, add your resting heart rate.
To get the upper range of your target heart rate, multiply your reserve heart rate by 80 percent and add your resting heart rate.
So, if you had a resting rate rate of 70 BMP, and you were 30 years old, you would take 190 (which is your maximum heart rate in our example) and subtract your resting heart rate from this number. That equals 120.
Now, multiply this number by 60 percent and add your resting heart rate to get to get 142 and again by 80 percent and add your resting heart rate to that number to get 166. So, your target heart rate range is between 142 and 166. That means, when you work out, you want your heart rate to stay within 142 BPM and 166 BPM. If it is under the 142 BMP, you’ll not get an aerobic workout.
If it’s over 166, you’ll over-train yourself – again, no benefit.
A pedometer counts your steps and keeps track of how far you’ve moved during the day. It’s a simple device, yet can tell you a lot about how much exercise you’re getting. These devices can be found online through sites like www.SportPursuit.com or in most retail stores. All you do is wear it and walk around. At the end of the day, you check your stats either online or on your computer.
FitBit, and other similar devices, track all manner of movement, and even sleep and sleep patterns. The latter is probably the coolest feature. Most people discount the positive effects of sleep and recovery. FitBit will tell you how well you’re sleeping, whether you wake up in the middle of the night, and how often, as well as how much movement or exercise you get during the day. It also presents information in graphical format and allows you to track your body over time. Definitely worth the $99 asking price.
About the author: Dylan Steele is a veteran personal trainer. He enjoys writing about healthy living and workout techniques on fitness blogs.