by Angela Reed-Fox
Why is accuracy important?
Heartrate training is great for seeing how your condition affects your workout. If your maximum heartrate (MHR) is not recorded accurately, you won't get accurate results, and your readout at the end of your session is no good for planning your training, clocking your progress, or giving you the encouragement you need.
How to spot if it's not accurate
You could do a MHR test (eminently unenjoyable!) or you could be aware of a few basic principles as you do your training. Your heartrate may need changing if:
What to do about it
If you think your MHR is inaccurate, change by 1-2 beats per minute only. If it's still inaccurate at a subsequent session, you can change it again. By making small changes you won't notice too much of a difference during the session, and therefore won't have to pass that discouraging psychological 'hump' of finding a session much harder than usual.
When not to change it
It's tempting to think 'Oh, I've been under the weather for the last couple of weeks, I'll reduce my max heartrate.' Don't bother.
If you're frequently changing your MHR (say, more than twice a year) the chances are the changes are too frequent for the data you collect to stay accurate. You MHR isn't going to change a huge amount. There are many factors affecting MHR including:
Once your MHR is accurate, you can then start to really focus on the aspects that need improvement - because now you'll be able to see a clearer picture.
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