Chest straps are not an unusual sight anymore as heart rate monitoring has become a key of training. Though it doesn’t surprise anyone when they are used by runners, it still may look odd to some when it comes to other sports. But it shouldn’t! And here’s why.
Heart rate monitoring makes a difference
Let’s go back in time to the days when heart rate monitoring was introduced to sports. The HR monitor was invented in the 1970s, but gained more popularity a decade later. It wasn’t a very precise measuring tool in the beginning, but a lot has changed since then. Engineers working on HR monitors have come a long way and today they are using technology based on both optical and electrical sensors. Heart rate monitors provide essential data and it’s not just about your heart beat – it’s much more.
What are the benefits of heart rate monitoring?
Whether you use a chest strap or a bracelet (both measure your heart rate, although according to users the first one is more accurate), you receive information about how many times your heart beats in one minute. It’s just one parameter on the screen of your device, but really it shows a lot more.
When you see your heart rate, you can tell exactly how hard your body is working in that particular moment. Every training session is different, but even if it was the same as the last one, your body response could be a lot different. There are a lot of things that can affect your performance: what you eat, how much you sleep, how much water you drink – even the weather can make a huge difference. That one parameter can show you if your training is aerobic or anaerobic, so you know exactly what effect is has on your body. That’s right, not only your heart, but your whole body – when you know your lactate threshold and you monitor your heart rate, you are fully aware of your fatigue level (or its lack – it works both ways). How else – if not by looking at solid data – can you tell if you really put your best effort into a particular training session? By solely depending on your mood or muscle soreness, you will never be able to accurately measure your effort. Heart rate monitoring will provide you reliable results.
Use your data wisely
Data from your heart rate monitor allows you not just to be conscious, but also cautious. Collecting data alone won’t give you any benefits. But if you analyse and correlate it, you will be able to draw some conclusions.
For example, if your heart rate tells you that you really worked hard today, you know you can’t repeat this kind of training session the next day. Your body would be overwhelmed with the workload and therefore it would be more susceptible to injury. But if you planned to do some hard work during your training and your heart rate didn’t show it, you probably should make another attempt to break a sweat – otherwise you won’t make any progress.
HR and team sports – does this go hand in hand?
If a jogger checks his HR, why wouldn’t a good football player do that as well? After all, both these activities are based on the same thing – running, except that a football player runs after a ball and away from the opponent, while a jogger just runs. Let’s be honest here, football players get a lot more injuries than runners. They are under just as much pressure when it comes to running, but rapid changes of direction or passes can cause injuries, just like everything else football players do on the pitch. However, injuries triggered by a single event are not as common as overuse injuries and to be quite frank, it’s really hard to predict or prevent them.
Overuse injuries on the other hand are predictable. If you (or your coach) see that your heart rate is different than it should be, you should consider it as a warning. Your body could be indicating increasing fatigue or upcoming sickness. Isn’t health the most important thing in an athlete’s life? In anyone’s life really?
HR monitor and GPS tracker – the perfect combination
Although heart rate monitoring by itself is a great training tool, it’s even better when it is used with a GPS sports tracker. It’s especially valuable for coaches who have to monitor whole teams. They must know their players well, what they are capable of, and what they can expect from each of them. So if they find out that something between one’s speed and heart rate doesn’t add up, that’s a good reason to modify certain training activities. But how can they tell if the speed is right or not? That’s when GPS sports trackers come in handy. Sonda Sports trackers, used along with heart rate monitors, allow their users to check the general performance of a single athlete or of a whole team. They provide coaches with important data and all the parameters that really matter for a coach. Some of them – like total distance, average and maximum speed – are a must have for each and every coach. Others – such as metabolic power – are more complex, but once you learn more about them you’ll find them very useful.