If you have a heart rate monitor you use, you’ve likely made the device individual to you, inputting factors like your age and weight into the user settings. Entering this data isn’t a one-time affair, however. It’s a task you should be doing on a regular basis if you want optimum health and fitness.
Why Update HRM User Settings in the First Place?
No two people in the world are exactly alike in terms of their biology, background, diet or environment. Subsequently, different individuals need individualization in their training programs if they want to get really ripped and see health improvements. With this in mind, heart rate monitor manufacturers don’t want to apply one-size-fits-all estimates when it comes to calorie burn or safe heart rate zones. They thus equip good heart rate monitors, such as the HeartQ, with sophisticated algorithms. The HRM takes the data you enter in the user settings, such as your age, weight and height, and inserts it into these algorithms for customized calculations about your performance and needs.
Over time, as your fitness improves, the user settings on your HRM will become outdated. For instance, you might have started out weighing 250 pounds, but today you might be only 150. If you don’t update your weight in your settings, the HRM will continue to compute your calorie expenditure as though you were heavier, likely exaggerating what you really burned off. If you tweak your settings, however, the device can calculate your numbers based on your current status, giving you greater accuracy. This real-time, truthful representation of what’s happening isn’t important just for getting slim or finishing an additional set of reps. It’s also critical for safety. Inaccurate user settings might push you toward a target heart rate zone that’s too high or low for you or fool you into eating less or more than you should.
When to Update Your Settings
Many individuals see dramatic weight loss at the beginning of training programs, sometimes experiencing drops of five pounds or more per week. The bulk of this weight, however, is just water. After the water loss slows, safe weight loss is just one to two pounds per week. Additionally, most people don’t see ridiculously rapid improvements to their cardiovascular function or muscle tone. They slowly become more defined, and they gradually notice over several sessions or weeks that exercises feel easier. For these reasons, a good rule of thumb is to update your user settings once per month, when you lose five pounds or more or whenever you decide to bump up the weights you’re using.
Check your settings on your birthday, as well. Body changes and age aside, update your settings whenever you change your battery, too—most HRMs will prompt you to go through the settings after a replacement.
How to Change Your Settings
Most manufacturers make it very simple to access HRM user settings. On the HeartQ, for example, you press the bottom left button to scroll to the HRM mode. You then hold the top left button for two seconds. The monitor prompts you to adjust your age first, followed by options such as gender and heart rate zone. The top and bottom right buttons allow you to toggle through the choices for each option, and when you’re done, you hit the top left button to exit. Although the specific sequence for getting through the user settings will depend on the exact device you have, the general procedure of pushing a designated button to enter the settings and toggling through with top and bottom buttons is pretty standard. If your monitor has a center button, you’ll probably use it like your computer keyboard’s “enter” key to confirm your choices, but if you’re unsure, just consult your manual.
User settings on a heart rate monitor allow you to customize the way the device calculates specific elements, such as calories burned or your ideal training zones. This customization keeps you much safer than if you adopted a one-size-fits-all approach. It also means that you get a more accurate picture of how hard you need to work and how you should approach your diet. Subsequently, it’s important to keep them up to date. Weight loss, bumping up what you’re lifting, birthdays, battery swaps and the feeling that workouts are getting easy all are good signs it’s time to reset the data your heart rate monitor depends on.