Why you must wear a heart rate monitor when Personal Training!

HR monitor

Having been a Personal Trainer for so long now (closing in on 20 years) and learning the needs and wants of clients whilst equally mastering the art of meeting these needs, it is apparent that at the top end of Personal Training, the biggest difference in attaining results comes from attention to detail, service, professionalism, education, sports science and accountability.

If your personal trainer provides you with a heart rate monitor as a sheer matter of course for the cardio component of your personal training session then you are probably in the minority of trainers out there in the industry and if he or she is not, then I suggest you question the level of competency, professionalism and the actual value for money that you are getting for your service.

Ever since I started personal training back in 1997 I have always insisted on the use of a heart rate monitor with my clients and there are many reasons for this. I will share these with you now:

1 – We all know the simple and age-old method of estimating someone’s maximum heart rate (220-age) and from that figure working out a heart rate range in which your client should be working out at. This can be from as low as 50% for someone overweight; obese; injured; out of condition; poor fitness level; elderly; pre-existing illness, injury or condition or just someone that has never done any structured exercise before. Then we can work up from that 50% level through to as high as 80-95% depending on their goals, fitness level or whether the exercise is largely aerobic or anaerobic. Whichever the case knowing what heart rate to strive for and then keep check on is imperative.

2- By having the heart rate monitored throughout the session, this gives the personal trainer the ability to teach and educate the client about the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and marry up their actual feeling of how hard or easy they are working and then allow this to guide the intensity of the session. With this ability alone, it empowers the client to then know how hard they should be working when away from you in between sessions and working on their own (if they don’t own their own hear rate monitor). This then ensures that the intensity of the session is maximised and the client over time will feel compelled to work harder and harder each session and get the most out of their session both physically but more importantly mentally as they then continue to become more self-sufficient.

3- How could you trust a personal trainer if you have heart problems or may have health conditions that will impact you and they don’t use a heart rate monitor? I have had a very good example of this whereby I was training a client that went into atrial fibrillation and by marrying up the pale face and his expression and feelings with a heart rate that crept up to 224 (his normal working heart rate was 180). Up until that time I had been training this client in particular for well over 5 years and he was booked in for surgery less than 2 weeks later to rectify his atrial fibrillation. As a side note I have now trained this guy for 17 years and he has since completed a 40.2km marathon, 200km bike rides, a trek to Nepal, etc… Back to the matter – a heart rate monitor provides much needed information of the very essential working organ – the heart.

4- The purpose of employing a personal trainer is to get results. Results = goals, accountability and progression. A heart rate monitor helps educate the client in so many ways and one such way is finding the average working heart rate over the cardio section of your personal training session. As the picture shows here in the blog post, at the very end of this client’s session, we can simply press the button and it will then ‘file’ all recorded information. The one shown here is an average heart rate of 150 beats per minute (bpm). When training over time, essentially an average heart rate during a session should typically increase and over time by providing this information to the client you are showing accountability and helping drive them to work harder and harder and work towards their goals and hereby achieving the results that they first came to you for.

5- A POLAR heart rate monitor only costs $75 from Pursuit Performance and the one that we use is this one. A professional personal trainer will merely provide this to you for their sake and also legality-wise it ensures if something was to go wrong they can refer back to heart ranges worked at over time and averages whilst not having one will give the personal trainer no leg to stand on if a claim is made for negligence, heart attack or at the extreme – death. The client as pointed out for all reasons identified above learns about their limits, there ideal heart rate range and if the trainer is knowledgeable enough they can use this very effective tool to expand onto the 3 energy systems (CP, lactic acid and aerobic), aerobic and anaerobic energy production, the krebs cycle, fat/carbohydrate utilisation and ratios at different levels, etc.


It is important to note that the Personal Training industry is littered with thousands of personal trainers that the majority are qualified by merely passing the industry minimum of a certificate 3 or 4 in Personal Training. Sadly only around 10% of these trainers once completed their courses (not university or Tertiary degree qualified) last more than 1-2 years in the industry. They don’t have a business name. uniform, logo or sadly and more importantly any experience… These are the ones that you should avoid unless you feel that they are of value for you and your personal needs and goals.

Remember that like most things, you get what you pay for. A $50-$60 Personal Trainer will likely not get you more than just a hard or solid workout each and every time you train with them but if you are looking for more then you should perhaps aim a little higher. Please also note that 1 session a week is all that you need from a very good and qualified trainer and they will then structure your week, month, year with a regime that will get you the results that you need and most importantly that you are paying good money for.

What I would suggest for anyone either looking for a Personal Trainer for the first time, looking to check if their current trainer is worth what they are paying for and for those looking to change trainers – please click here for your 12 point “How to choose a Personal Trainer” checklist and here to see our some our clients verbalise what it should feel like from your PT experience.

“Only 25% of people who work out achieve their desired results and 9 out of 10 people in that 25% success group have their own Personal Trainer”.

This is another post in my quest to improve the standards or personal training in Australia – click here for further information.

Kind regards and best wishes,

Justin Moran 0411 798 934