New Tech for Next-Level Workouts

We all go through it. Every once in a while, we experience phases when our workouts feel very lackluster. Sometimes we get lucky and those phases quickly pass. Other times, they linger and cause us lots of anxiety and frustration.

But — good news! — there are a bunch of new tools that can help you bust out of your workout rut and take your fitness to the next level.

I tried a couple of new gadgets recently that promise to help up-level your fitness, and here’s what I found that’s worth checking out.

Next-Level Cardio with Zoom HRV

This Zoom HRV goes well beyond the standard fitness/activity trackers on the market by measuring and tracking your heart rate without the use of a chest strap. It can even measure your heart rate while you’re swimming and it will count your laps for you — how cool is that? The Zoom Pod can be worn on your wrist, forearm, upper arm or ankle. A single charge delivers about five days of continuous biofeedback.

One of the coolest features is the workout readiness detail. Heart rate variability monitoring detects signs of physical fatigue to provide recommendations on how much you should exert yourself in your next workout. This helps to answer that question of when it’s time to push and when its time to rest, limiting the chances of overtraining. I used this feature this week in advance of the Chicago Marathon to monitor my training recovery. It was super cool to watch the workout readiness number go up as the race approached and confirmed that I wasn’t running any of my short shakeout runs too hard.

In addition to providing tons of valuable heart-rate based information about your current fitness level and recovery status, this little gizmo tracks your sleeping quality and patterns, ambient light exposure, workouts, average daily heart rate, steps, and calories burned.

Zoom HRV is available for $139.99. The arm and ankle band are sold separately as a set for around $19.99. Zoom HRV is compatible with iOS and most Android devices.

Next-Level Strength Training with Beast Sensor

The Beast Sensor is an excellent tool to help quantify the quality of your performance in your lifts. It uses three on-board sensors — an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a compass — to measure power, speed, strength, and explosiveness.

You wear the yellow sensor in its accompanying wristband. When you lift, the sensor then streams data in real time to your mobile devices for immediate feedback on every rep and every set, and provides motivation to give it all you’ve got for each rep (translation: less half-assing). The Beast App also tracks your performance over time — energy burn, weights, reps, sets and progress — and assists you with making better decisions about the amount of weight and number of reps you should use to reach your goals, like increasing strength, power, or speed.

The Apps rest timer is a nice feature that helps keep you on track while you review the detail from your previous set and check out the recommendations for adjusting your weight or rep counts. Pretty cool since I tend to get distracted easily and lose track of my rest periods.

In short, you get lots of very sophisticated information to take your lifting up a notch and performance data that you might not otherwise have access to. At the end of your workout, the Beast App will even tell you how many tons you lifted during your workout — makes you feel like a total badass.

The Beast Sensor costs $249.00 — a bit steep, but if you’re looking for serious consistency and power with concrete numerical evidence to show how you’re progressing over time, then it’s a small price to pay. The Beast Sensor is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Wanna see it in action? Check out this video.

How do you keep challenging yourself in your workouts? —Alison

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