Which apps should I choose to monitor my fitness? How should they be integrated? How should I fine tune my training, using the data collected?
As mentioned in the previous two posts, Part 1 and Part 2, technology incorporated into the smartphone and low cost, high quality apps now enable bushwalkers to monitor their fitness and training program in a way previously only achievable by elite athletes working in an exercise laboratory. Both of these posts should be read as they provide necessary background for this post.
To maintain a high level of fitness, the bushwalker needs to be able to
- measure personal fitness levels (Polar Beat, iThlete, HRV4training)
- log training sessions (Precision Pulse HRM, Polar Beat, Walkmeter)
- plan future training sessions based on fitness levels (iThlete, BioForce HRV)
Many of these can also be monitored by advanced wrist computers incorporating GPS and heart rate monitors, but these usually lack the versatility of a smartphone.
Measuring Personal Fitness
Polar Beat has an in-app purchase which allows your to do a Fitness Test (see previous post for more details) which you can then match with VO2max norms for your age and gender. This should give similar results to the values produced by Polar OwnIndex® found in many of the high-end Polar wrist computers, but I have found them to be about 5 points lower.
iThlete, BioForce HRM, and HRV4training use HRV as an indicator of fitness, with higher values indicating higher fitness levels. I am currently trialling both iThlete and HRV4training and may continue with both, as they offer slightly different but important features.
iThlete enables you to log important “environmental” factors such as sleep, fatigue, training load, muscle soreness, stress, mood and diet and check for correlations with HRV scores. HRV4training automates the HRV measuring process, giving the option of lying down or standing or both. If this option is chosen, the difference between standing and lying down is automatically calculated and can give valuable information about fitness, as the difference increases with fitness.
Logging Training Sessions
Precision Pulse HRM monitors, HRaverage and HRmaximum, kCal burnt, and training load, as measured by an objective TRIMP score, determined by time in each training zone and heart rate. Without this knowledge, training loads become rather subjective, especially if there is variation in the type of activity, volume and intensity, and therefore affect the reliability of the HRV data.
I have been using Walkmeter ( Apple) for about 5 years and find it to be an excellent app for maintaining a log of your training sessions, including GPS location, Activity, Route, kCals, Heart Rate, Elevation climbed and Duration, which can then be graphed and mapped or viewed live. Most importantly it is very user friendly, making excellent use of the remote controller on the earplug to control start/stop, playing of motivational music and user defined voice announcements such as pace, time, progress in relation to worst, medium, best previous times for the route. This means you don’t have to take your iPhone out of your pocket to control the app. It has the ability to automatically stop if you are stationary for more than a user defined duration, which is very handy. All of this information can be shared live using social media, if you are so inclined.
Polar Beat offers some of the above features such as measurement of distance, calories, speed, heart rate, and provides voice announcements and map location, but appears to be not yet fully developed. It does however integrate well with the Polar website.
Planning Future Training Sessions
Both iThlete and HRV4training provide bushwalker friendly advice about the day’s training session by relating the morning’s heart rate and HRV measurements to previous days.
Careful analysis of data provided by Walkmeter, such as average and maximum heart rates, time in each training zone, and duration in relation to previous times, can provide a limited guide, but lacks the predictive ability of the first two apps..
Social Media and Web Integration
Many fitness apps allow social media integration with Facebook and Twitter, and may allow upload to a proprietary website, for more detailed analysis.
This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.