One of the most important element in determining your performance is how you train. Our fitness expert, Ralph Hydes, tells us how you can use your heart rate to help get the most effective results.

There are a number of different ways to train and many are very effective. The most effective way to train involves using your heart rate as a performance indicator and it can even be a training partner. Through using a heart rate monitor you can push your body to its safe limits and get the most effective results. If you train without a heart rate monitor you run the risk of over training and a possible burn out which will lead to disappointment and possibly injury or illness.

There are a number of factors that can affect your heart rate so take these into account. The heart is a very delicate organ and is therefore very susceptible to fluctuations such as mood, hydration status, diet, sleep, temperature, wind and humidity.

Some sports will involve more stress on the heart and therefore elevate your heart rate more than others. This is due to the different muscles being used. Running is the activity that will elevate your heart rate the highest, closely followed by cycling. Swimming on the other hand is fairly low in terms of the amount of stress put upon the heart. This is due to the smaller muscles of the upper body being used.

The heart can also indicate whether you are coming down with a virus or are training too hard and need a rest. The best way to monitor this is to take your heart rate first thing in the morning before moving in bed. Take your heart rate for two minutes for five days. Add each day’s results together and then divide by five. This will give you the average number of beats. If your heart rate drops or rises by more than 10 beats in any one day than this average then you are due for a rest.

Training with a heart rate monitor will make your heart stronger and more efficient. However, judgement is needed during training sessions to obey what your monitor is telling you and patience will reward you with a more effective heart.