Do you use that fancy fitness tracker to genuinely improve your health — or just monitor mediocrity?
What kinds of trackers do the best job?
How many calories should we be burning each week to maintain or even lose weight?
In this podcast, champion bodybuilder and Serious Results fitness coach Adam Hammett teaches us how to get the most accurate information from our fitness trackers, and then what to do with that data to see real change.
Charge up your tracker and get ready to learn from Adam!
Aside from being an award-winning body builder (as in 2010 The Lone Star Classic), Adam Hammett is a fitness coach who teaches regular people like you and me how to build muscle and manage our weight. He’s exactly the guy we need to hear from, especially now that the bathing suits and the shorts are out, and everywhere we look there are tempting foods around — Oreos! Potato chips! All my favorites!
I know that many of you received one of those fitness trackers — maybe for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, birthday, Christmas, and you may be using them, but, as Adam lovingly says, “Are you just tracking your mediocrity?”
In this podcast, Adam helps us learn how to use these devices to actually improve our overall health.
First, do we even need these trackers? Are they just a silly fad?
No, they really are useful. The right fitness device can serve as a compass to help give us direction. Lots of times when we want to lose weight or improve our fitness, it’s like a needle in a haystack — you’re not sure if what you’re doing is going to pay off, if it’s enough, you don’t really know. These trackers put finite limits on what you should and shouldn’t do.
Do you have any favorites?
Yes, the Apple Watch and the FitBit are popular, but we always stick with the Polar brand. It has a GPS built in for runners and cyclists. I like them better because they track your heart rate, which can make a big difference in your results.
The step-counters like the Apple Watch and FitBit tell you how much you move, but they don’t tell you what’s really going on inside your body. For example, let’s say my wife Debra and I go walking. My heart rate runs 120 beats per minute, which means I’m burning 10 calories for each minute. Her heart rate is at 70 beats per minute, so she’s only burning 4 calories.
We’re going on the same walk. Without the data about what’s doing on inside your body, you might expect a lot more results for your effort than is really appropriate. That’s why I like the monitors that track your heart rate.
But don’t the Apple Watch and FitBits monitor your heart rate?
They do, but they’re not very accurate because they are monitoring at your wrist, and that can alter the results, especially if you’re moving your arms a lot, lifting weights or doing a step class. But accurately tracking the calories is important.
One pound of fat has 3500 calories — you just can’t get away from that. So if you want to lose a pound or two a week, that’s 3500-7000 calories that have to be expended or eliminated, either by exercise or calorie restriction (meaning not eating — and no one likes that!). Get off your butt and do something!
On the other hand, you need to know the amount of calories it takes to maintain your body weight, which is roughly your weight times ten calories. (So if you are a 120 lb. woman, that’s 1200 calories per day, plus whatever you burn exercising.) If you just want to maintain your body weight, the info from the gadget will give you direction on where to go and what your numbers should be looking like.
This information can feel defeating if you don’t exercise — your weight times ten calories is not a lot of food! If we want to get leaner or healthier, we have to exercise, not just diet it away.
This is where I comment that it’s not “fair” to be female. Adam weighs a muscular 230. So to maintain his weight, he can eat 2300 calories per day. Then on top of that, he can add what he burns in a workout. He works HARD, so this nets him around another 1500 calories (!!!). That’s around 3800 calories he can eat on a workout day. And that’s before mowing the lawn!
Another note about the Apple Watch and FitBit. They’re not necessarily all that accurate, because the technology is somewhat dated. They were developed for NASA and the military to collect data for soldiers and astronauts, so they would know how much to feed them and give them the right nutrition.
In my experience, Polar has the best data in their devices. If you’re serious about tracking your calories, accuracy really matters, and that’s where I think Polar devices are the best.
Well I have to ask, do you sell Polar devices?
No, we don’t sell them. You can get them on Amazon for between $50-$150, depending on how fancy you get. If you’re an endurance athlete or a runner, you might want the more expensive one that includes a GPS, but most people just need to track their heart rate and calories, so the $50 model will work fine.
Specifically how can I use the tracker to improve my fitness?
Let’s say you’re going to workout and see how many calories you burn — and it turns out to be around 300 calories in an hour, maybe an hour and ten minutes. Alright, that’s okay, but any female should be shooting for 500-600 calories. The average male can burn 700-1000. That will seem a little daunting at first, but we’re talking about getting better, so let’s step up to the challenge.
When you’re working out and you notice your heart rate is at 110 or 130, that’s not really a lot of effort. You might try to step it up a little, add more cardio, more weights. If you’re starting to see 150 or 160, then you’re really pushing yourself, and you’re using the little device to show you how hard you’re working. That’ll translate into a better fitness level. You’re burning more calories and starting to see results. But if you’re just doing things that are comfortable and you’re staying at 120 beats, then you’re just maintaining the mediocrity.
Working out is hard. It’s always a challenge. It doesn’t matter if you feel like doing it or not! And that’s what’s great about a tracker — it allows you to see what your mind perceives as hard versus what really IS hard. For example, I don’t like to run, but when I run with my Polar device and I realize I’m only at 135 or 140 beats per minute, I know I need to keep going whether I like it or not. It’s not time to stop! It’s okay to push.
But when I see the 170s and 180s, I know, “This is too hard. I need to rest a little bit.” As you keep going through that and you experience those numbers, you’ll become accustomed to knowing what “challenging” really feels like, not just what our brain’s perceives as a little uncomfortable.
It’s a safety gauge AND a gauge that tells you when it’s okay to go again. When you lift weights, you don’t just lift constantly. You do sets in intervals, where you lift and then rest. These devices work as a compass to let you know when it’s okay to go again. You’ll notice you felt a challenge, then you rested, you’ll see that once your heart rate gets back down to 130 or 140, you feel okay to go again. And you’ll become familiar with that feeling of what’s going on inside your body. That’s where you get your data.
If you look at your workout and you only got to the 120s or 130s, you didn’t really do that much — NO MATTER HOW YOU FELT. You can step it up a little bit.
I love that, because our feelings betray us. With this you don’t have to trust your emotions as to how hard to go. This tracker makes the effort quantifiable.
Yes, because you’re not going to have a perfect day every day. What matters is your consistency. There will be stressors, there’ll be nights when you don’t get good sleep. There will be times when you just don’t feel right. But this device levels the playing field, so that you can consistently reach the same workload every time you go to the gym, instead of having an awesome day two times a week, and then a bunch of slower days that weren’t very effective for your time. You can make each one effective. That will make a big difference in terms of seeing changes in your body.
Other than the way my jeans fit, how am I going to know if using this tracker is working?
You’ll see that when you do something that requires a high level of exertion, your heart rate will go up, and maybe you’ll not feel very good for a few minutes. And then it’ll come back down. As you start getting more fit, you’ll notice that your heart rate comes back down much faster. So that means you can get a lot more work done in the same amount of time. You don’t have to stand there and rest so much for recovery.
You’ll be able to do a set, rest for a short period, maybe a minute, then do another set and keep going, whereas when you started, you may have only had five sets total in your whole workout because they were hard enough that you had to stand around and recover to be ready to go again.
This brings me to the last bit here: These things aren’t going to be comfortable. If you want to make changes in your life and improve yourself, there are going to be some sacrifices that have to be made. They’re uncomfortable, but they’re temporary. And you’ll get better and you’ll realize in a short time you are doing things you didn’t think you could do, because your little device helped you push the limits. And you saw that, “maybe my brain had a bad day and I’m stressed out, and I didn’t want to do my next set. But I looked at my tracker and realized I’m ready to go. I don’t need to stand here and keep thinking about my life. I need to go! I need to focus on my workout. Because it’s clearly telling me to go I should not stop wasting time. I need to move my butt!”
Let’s say I have a new fitness tracker fresh out of the box. How will I know if I’m exercising in the right zone? How do I get started with that?
We have an e-book that’ll show you how to assess yourself, explains the appropriate zones for your current fitness level, and will show you how to progress. Here’s a link to the ebook.
These trackers really do level the playing field and allow you to improve. Instead of just putting it on and seeing what you would have accomplished with or without tracking, you can see how to do 15% better for the day or the whole week. When females get into burning 3000 calories a week, or men burning 7000-10,000 a week, that’s when you really start seeing the weight change, and the fitness level change.
That’s when you start to feel better, and your life becomes better. Your outside is a reflection of your inside, so when you see that change on the outside, it’s making sure the inside and the outside line up. That’s where the gratitude from your workouts comes from — you’re starting to feel really good. But if we’re not tracking it, it’s probably not going to get any better. That’s the bottom line. Having that device makes sure that every workout is productive, instead of having some good ones and some mediocre ones. That leads to success, when every workout matters.
To reach Adam for coaching, call him at 214-642-5853 or contact him through their website at serious-results.com.