You muster up enough energy and discipline to get yourself to the gym, and proceed to workout for an hour the best way you know how. Then you hope that within a few days or weeks later you’ll see the number on the scale drop.
Tracking Calories Burned
Weight loss, or muscle gain for that matter, is a tricky thing because there are so many factors at play. At the most basic level, some of the most common reasons include underestimating your calories, eating too little, lack of sleep, and not moving enough.
You can weigh, measure, and track your food with decent accuracy; you can go to bed and wake up at specific times to get enough sleep, but moving enough can be tough to determine. Maybe you’ve heard that to lose one pound per week weight, you need to create a 500 calorie deficit every day. Essentially, if you cut out 250 calories and burn an extra 250 daily, you’ll reach your goal.
But how do you know if you’ve burned 250 extra?
You can use heart rate monitors on the cardio machines, but in all honesty, they’re far from accurate. And what about when you’re weight training?
That’s where the beautiful, simple tool called a heart rate monitor watch comes into play.
Polar Heart Rate Monitor Watches
I used to think heart rate monitors were just for super serious runners who needed to check their heart rate. I didn’t know why they even wore them, but they were the only ones I ever saw wear them. When I decided to compete in a fitness competition, I saw many YouTubers talk about Polar watches, and how you could track your calories, heart rate, fitness level, etc. I planned to do a lot of HIIT training, which really depends on knowing your heart rate to make it effective, and decided I wanted a Polar watch.
My kind boyfriend bought a black and silver Polar FT60 for me just in time for my competition training, because this was a point where I didn’t want to guess on things like food intake or calorie burn. I wanted to make sure I was going to train effectively and look lean for my competition.
I’ve been in love ever since.
Maybe a little too in love, kind of co-dependent. If I forget my chest strap or watch when I workout, I’m quite distraught. If I can’t see how many calories I burned, it’s like it didn’t even count. I might need an intervention.
Anyway, I love it because it tracks your heart rate and fitness level, and then shows how many calories you burn at the end of a workout based on that information. It also tracks different training zones, such as when you’re working at 60% of your max heart rate, 80%, and so on. It’s customizable so you can change your desired training zones to suit your needs and growing fitness level.
Not a Fitness Tracker
Polar Heart Rate Monitors are not Fit Bits or a fitness tracker that basically just counts steps. (My version of the Polar watch does not count steps, some newer ones do). It’s also much more accurate than watches with heart rate monitors, due to the chest strap that you wear with the watch. When you take the strap off, you can no longer monitor your heart rate. These are also great because you can always track your heart rate, as opposed to a cardio machine that only tracks it when your hands are on the monitors.
I recently recommended one to a client based on their better accuracy, and it’s also a great thing for personal trainers when our clients have these. Rather guess what rest time she needs, I can just ask her what her heart rate monitor says. If she looks like she’s ready to pass out, I can find out if her heart rate is too high, or if she just thinks she’s dying but her heart says otherwise. This ensures she’s working out hard enough in her target heart rate zone for max calorie burning. At the end of our session, she can tell me exactly how many calories she burned.
Know How Much You’re Burning
So, if you know you’re burning 400 calories 4 days per week, then you can calculate your calorie intake better, or add in more workout sessions as needed to burn 3500 calories per week (because 3500 equals one pound).
The watch can set up goals for you, and at the end of the week you can see if you reached them. For instance, during my competition training I was trying to workout about 7 hours per week and burn about 2200 calories each week, and my watch would tell me how much of that I had completed.
Not only are these effective for seeing calories, but for HIIT (high intensity interval training) as mentioned earlier. The effectiveness of HIIT training, which is a super effective way to burn fat in a short time, is based on being in the highest end of your target heart rate zone for a set period of time, then bringing it back down to a low heart rate for a set amount of time. With the monitor, you can guarantee you’re working out hard enough and resting enough.
So if you’re struggling to lose weight, try getting a watch to monitor your activity for better accuracy and more likelihood of success!
What about you? Have you had success with a Polar or any other watch? Please leave comments and questions!