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Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor

A triathlon heart rate monitor that senses and displays your heart rate is an important addition to your triathlon equipment if you want to get the most effective use of your workout time. It takes the guesswork out of the level of effort at which your body is functioning.

Heart Rate

Many factors affect heart rate, including your age, fitness level, activity level, emotions and medications being used. Some medications lower the maximum heart rate, which means you will need to adjust any calculation for target heart rate.

Target Heart Rate


Target heart rate is the "zone" you want your heart rate to be in when you're exercising. Typically, your target heart rate should be at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate when you are exercising hard. Of course, you do need to keep in mind, this is merely an average, and your own target heart rate may actually be lower.

When to Use a Heart Rate Monitor

A triathlon heart rate monitor is useful for at least the running and cycling portions of your training. However, when swimming, you're not really in a position to check the monitor unless you are on a wall or you stop swimming. Even then, if you are fairly fit, your body will have a fairly rapid recovery from swimming, and the readings may not be accurate.

Buying a Heart Rate Monitor

When purchasing a heart rate monitor for triathlon training, you should consider the following:

  • If you plan to use it for swimming, make sure it's waterproof.

  • The chest strap needs to fit comfortably, but securely and not impede your range of movement.

  • Consider a large display so you can see it while you're working out.

  • You may want to look into a cycling computer instead of, or in addition to, a heart rate monitor.

Triathlon heart rate monitor manufacturers include Blackburn, Garmin, Polar, Suunto and Timex.

  • Timex offers the Ironman Race Trainer and the Ironman Global Trainer with prices ranging from $150 to $360. All models of the Race Trainer offer a large easily readable display. The Global Trainer includes a GPS, and allows for multiple displays on the watch face, which includes pace, distance, speed and heart rate.

  • Suunto offers several heart rate monitors ranging in price from the Suunto M1 ($99) to the Sunnto Vector HR ($299). All of the Suunto M series have a large display, and the Suunto M5 is the top end of the M series at $189. The Vector HR is also a compass, barometer and altimeter, which may be more than a triathlete would need in a heart rate monitor.

  • Polar offers a wide range of triathlon heart rate monitors, including whose with GPS and ones more specific to the cycling event. Bodytronics is a USA authorized dealer for Polar, and their prices range from the basic Polar FT1 ($59.95) to the Polar RS800CXG3 with GPS ($499.95). Polar also offers a cycling computer, the Polar CS600X, with GPS ($679.95).

Additional manufacturers and models are available.

Many triathletes believe that an awareness of your body is more important than any information you could get from a heart rate monitor. However, like with any tool, the triathlon heart rate monitor is only useful when used correctly.

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