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DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : heart rate monitorsSun, 27 Jul 2008 18:06:11 GMT # 

got an idea of how many calories i consume each day and how many calories i burn at rest. but i dont have a clue how many calories i burn working out. so i needed to get a heart rate monitor. first, which brand to get. that was easy ... Polar, because my gym has some deal with them, and all the cardio machines will work with Polar chest straps. of course i had to test this out. i've got another heart rate strap from Sigma, so i wore that in one day. it synced up fine with one brand of treadmills, although it might not have been 'coded' because it seemed to jump when somebody else would walk by whom seemed to be wearing a heart rate watch too. on the other brand of treadmill, it synced up, but the results fluctuated wildly back and forth by about 50 bpm ... so that wasn't going to work.

second, which Polar heart rate monitor to get? there's a boat load of them. for data, all i really want is duration of workout, calories burned, and current heart rate. also wanted one that would let me enter in a target heart rate zone. the ones that matched the best were F6,F11,F55. didnt get the F6 because it came with the cheaper chest strap. didnt get the F55 because it was just more expensive for features i didnt need. the F11 had the features i needed, and comes with the WearLink 'coded' chest strap that stays in place better when i'm working out. the F11 can also sync up with your computer using a mic and audio. it chirps out some audio, the mic pics it up and processes the data to upload to a Polar website that tracks your progress. er, um ... if i can find out that protocol, i definitely want to write some code to recognize the audio :) audio based networking is sexy.

now its time to workout. went through a whole set of workouts. as expected i burned more calories in correlation to the size of the muscle group i was working out. legs > back > chest > arms. and since i know my target heart rate zone for fat burning, i've been really tweaking the intensity settings on cardio machines. but that's where the problem is introduced. on a Precor elliptical, my HRM syncs up and displays the same rate as on the watch. i enter my age and weight into the elliptical, which have already been entered into the watch. after a 30 minute workout, the watch shows that i've burned 150 calories, and the elliptical says i've burned 300. crap! this happened the 1st day, but i didnt realize it until i had already left. recreated it today and got the same results. honestly, i dont know which one is correct ... but i'm hoping its the elliptical. and why in the world is there a 100% difference. er, um ... so i still dont have a clue how many calories i burn during a workout. the only guesses i've got right now is that the watch is showing how many 'fat' calories i've burned, and the elliptical is showing total calories burned. or i've entered some user setting into the watch that is used for calorie calcuation, which is not used by the elliptical.

the other problem with the HRM is i hate wearing watches ... watches are for people that want to tell the non-wearing watch people what time it is. i'd prefer that it was just a chest strap, with a button(s) for start/stop workout. maybe a lock buttons switch. and a mini usb port that would let me sync up the data to a PC when i got home. because i'm wearing the heart strap when i lift to know how many total calories i burned, but i'm not going to adjust my workout based on the rate, so i dont need the UI. instead, i'd like to hit the start button on a strap, do my lifting workout, then hit a button to end that workout session and record those results. then i want to hit start again, do cardio on a machine, use the UI on the cardio machine itself to see the heart rate and adjust accordingly, then hit a button to end that session. finally, upload to a PC when i get home ... all without a watch. since Polar doesnt have that product, it looks like it might be possible with this : Heart Rate Logger. looks like i'll be able to clip that onto the chest strap, and that will log my heart rate over time. then i can download the data from that device to my PC. i'm hoping that will let me skip out on the watch. it'll also give me more data, because the Polar data file doesnt seem to provide heart rate over time.