(Pocket-lint) - Professional athletes and laypeople have used heart rate zone training for years. It works. That's why MyZone has been built around that zone training system to help anyone become better than they thought possible.
MyZone tracks fitness effort, rather than less accurate numbers like calories. The result is a tailored workout where an unfit person could do better in the rating system than an athlete, if they put in more effort.
The tracker works in any situation, be it running, cycling, track events or even games of tennis, football or rugby and more. But it's in the gym that it really comes into its own. This is a cardio training dream.
We spent time and much sweat testing out the MyZone tracker to see just how effective it can be.
Effort level training is the future
Be honest, you've been to the gym feeling confident, then been beaten by someone who left you feeling fat and slow, right? Training using others as a measure will always fail at some point as, unless you're a world-class athlete, there's always someone better.
That's why effort based training works so well. If you put the effort into a workout you will reap the benefits and feel confident – eager for more. That's the idea anyway. So how does it work?
Heart rate zones tell all
The MyZone MZ-3 tracker is a chest worn heart rate belt. Unlike older uncomfortable ones this uses a seamless soft plastic on the skin side of the band so you barely notice it's on after a while. This intelligently connects to the phone app via Bluetooth the moment it's clipped on and starts tracking. Simple.
The MZ-3 is water resistant to 10 metres, comes in three sizes, lasts seven months on a charge and has 16 hours of storage direct on the unit, in case you want to record without a phone. The unit also has ANT+ and analogue transmission so it can technically work with most devices.
The MyZone makers are keen to point out that chest worn monitoring is still far more accurate that optical wrist worn attempts at tracking. Since MyZone is based on very specific heart rate zone training this accuracy is highly important.
In a gym-based situation, like we were in, the data from our strap was shown on a large screen at the front of the room. It's also shown on the phone app, live, so can work anywhere. This reads out heart rate and a percentage of max number. This is the measure of total effort you personally can put it. This is based on metrics like age, height, weight, sex, resting heart rate and max heart rate.
When in a workout you can setup zones you need to be in to achieve the results you're going for. Or follow a workout setup already, by a trainer for example. The screen changes colour as the zones change. If you're at the right heart rate your tile, which shows your heart rate percentage, will change to match the correct zone. The longer you're in the zone during that time the more points you accrue – these are called MEPs, or MyZone Effort Points. The higher the heart rate percentage zone, the more points you receive. So the ultimate goal is to stay in the zone and aim for more intense zones for longer.
The grey zone, for 50-59 per cent of max heart rate, earns you 1MEP per minute, the blue zone, for 60-61 per cent awards 2 MEPs, green for 70-79 per cent earns you 3 MEPs per minute and the yellow zone for 80-89 per cent and red zone for 90-100 per cent give 4 MEPs per minute. Red zone training too much can be damaging hence the top two being on a par.
It has to be said that for people looking to burn fat research suggests lower heart rate bands can help more than higher. But for overall fitness pushing the upper limits can help.
Since all this is tailored to you personally it creates a level playing field. In our class we chose to ride the bike as it was an easy way to control heart rate. While we were sweating at one stage the person next to us was fine – even though we were in the same heart rate zone.
A community based app drives you
Even with the best personal zone-tracking device on the planet everyone still gets bored after a while. That's why the MyZone app is centred around social training.
Adding friends who use the app is an option. But since you'll likely not have many others on there initially this also works for anyone in the gym including trainers who may want to see your progress.
The app allows you to see the workouts of others as well as liking them and commenting. Then there's an overall leaderboard. Since this is based on effort it's really great as a motivator. Technically a gym beginner could be ahead of an athlete, if they put the time and effort in.
The app is clear and encouraging
When working out the app displays your tile, showing the percentage of your max heart rate. It also shows colories, MEPs and heart rate, at a glance. The same tile appears on a connected screen in compatible gyms. This also shows the upcoming colour change as the next zone approaches so you can slow down or speed up appropriately. We found concentrating on nailing this transition perfectly took so much focus we forgot about the training pain, a brilliant effect.
Since a sign of fitness is a heart rate that drops back down to normal quickly after stress, going up and down between zones really helps you strive for fitness. This is key here, you're not striving to burn enough calories to be able to neck ten pints that night, guilt-free, you're seeking real physical improvement.
The app also has the option to log photos of food and your own body. This is stored in the calendar and offers a clear view of improvements made. It can also be shared socially which, to somebody unhappy with their body, could be a tremendous public drive.
MyZone is compatible across platforms
The MyZone app works with Apple Watch and Android Wear so you can connect directly to the wearable and leave the phone in your bag. We didn't get a chance to test this but like the idea of being able to glance at zones when on the move is very appealing for those wanting to use this outside of the gym.
Realistically, a watch is needed to train within zones as, at the moment, you need a visual representation of effort. So if you don't own a watch then this is going to be more helpful in fixed training situations where you can lay your phone in one place in clear view. That said MyZone works with cycle computers like Garmin so training on the move on a bike is an option. It also offers its own MZ-50 Watch tailored specifically for this system.
MyZone also works with other fitness apps like Strava, MapMyRun and Apple Health. So all your data can be pulled in and shared across platforms easily.
How much is MyZone?
The MyZone MZ-3 Physical Activity Belt, as it's called, can be bought now for £130. This comes in three sizes.
If you want to stretch to a watch too the dedicated MyZone MZ-50 Watch is £100 and comes in four colour options, or get both for £180.
For ladies there's a MyZone Sports Bra that costs £50.
The MyZone app is free to download and works on both iOS and Android.
The MyZone fitness suit is a hugely important part of the move into fitness data reaching the masses. The professional level training smarts allows anyone to not only get fit but to excel beyond the norm.
Unlike other trackers out there this offers the high accuracy and training goals combination that is accessible enough for beginners but can help to push even the most elite athlete further.
The unique personal training effort measure not only drives better fitness but also helps confidence in a group competition scenario. The only thing holding a person back is time and effort. Knowing this leaves you feeling empowered during training and driven by results since your effort is the only factor stopping success.
The MyZone training system, for the money, is a very impressive way to drive health. If you're a gym goer already, or thinking of starting, this is a must.