Heart Rate Monitors and Caloric Expenditure

by Stephen Holt |   Date Released : 01 Jun 2003
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Stephen Holt

About the author: Stephen Holt

Stephen is the Technical/Education Director of the Maryland Athletic Club and Wellness Center where he is responsible for all aspects of fitness education for over 60 colleagues. In addition to being one of the most popular fitness advisors on the web, Stephen has appeared in several national publications including Fit, Women's Sports and Fitness, Fitness Management and IDEA Personal Trainer. Holt is a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of both the American Medical Athletic Association and the American Running Association and serves on the Governor's Advisory Council on Physical Fitness in Maryland. He is the Immediate-past State Director of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. Stephen holds multiple certifications from ACSM, NSCA, ACE, the CHEK Institute, AAAI and the American Academy of Health, Fitness and Rehab Professionals.

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Rubio, Joshua | 14 Apr 2009, 04:47 AM

I am constantly having a debate my coworker on the subject of caloric expenditure, work and heart rate training. I maintain that "calories burned" is a function of the work performed (i.e. force x distance = work in Kcal). I've noticed there has been a big push in heart rate training in gyms lately. This is great for those wanting to train and improve upon their cardiovascular system (i.e. VO2max, lactate threshold, etc). However, for those just looking to burn a certain number of calories, is heart rate training appropriate? Many clients wear heart rate monitors on their wrists which also give caloric expenditure. My argument is this: just because your heart rate or even core temperature goes up, does that necessarily indicate that you are burning a significant amount of calories? What if I scare someone suddenly and their heart rate increases? Does that mean they are burning more calories? What if 2 people who are the same age, gender and weight perform the same spin class. If one is in excellent cardiovascular shape and the other isn't, wont the heart rates differ drastically? So then if they perform the same amount of work, who burns more calories or does one actually burn more than the other?

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