Everything’s been great since I took a break from running and switching to jump rope. Unfortunately, it’s gotten harder to set goals with regard to workout intensity. The main difficulty is that as a beginner I can barely stay jumping for any more than 10 minutes. The intervals get even shorter when I’m having a bad day or near the end of my workout. To top it off I usually sneak in my workout first thing in the morning because I know there’s a slim chance in hell I’ll even workout after work.
All in all, I tend to slack off on workouts depending on the way I’m feeling at the time. Running is good in the sense that I’ve been doing it a while and there are no stops or interruptions aside from traffic lights and small children getting in your way. I have a general feel for my heart rate and can more or less ensure I get a good workout. With jumping rope it’s hard to assess just how much work I put into it.
So, I put down $150 or so for a heart rate monitor from Polar. I thought it sucked that I had to wet the little chest strap before working out but it’s not a big deal as much as people think. While you’re jumping you get to keep track of your heart rate with beeps that tell you if you’re out of your zone (it doesn’t beep when your heart rate’s optimal). I set my heart rate between 160-180 bpm. That’s quite a workout. I can stay in the zone roughly 15-20 minutes out of 40 minutes so far, allowing me to burn 500 kcal in one session. Now there are no "off" days. I can put out consistent work as long as I add a couple minutes to the workout if I need to. These past couple of days have been a dream in terms of making the most of my limited time. I guess the only thing I have to worry about is over-training. My jump rope’s already improved greatly just this past week.
The other shocking revelation is how demoralizing the actual stats from exercise machines are. Most exercise machines are equipped with heart rate monitor receivers. Unfortunately, it means very little aside from displaying a more accurate heart rate than gripping the little metal bars since a lot of machines obviously calculate the amount of work put out based on weight and a predetermined rate pegged to the exertion level you set on the machine. After a rigorous session on the stationary bike I found the calories burned as stated on the HRM more than a couple hundred kcal different! I burned more than 900 kcal in a gruelling hour long session whereas I never topped 700 kcal on the same machine with the same conditions.
If you’re serious about fitness or getting the most out of your sessions I strongly recommend it.