Train like the pros: 5 ways to use affordable fitness tech to enhance sports performance

Last summer’s London Olympics saw a total of 25 world records broken throughout the fortnight, with such results from the world’s elite performers acting as a prime example of how modern fitness tech such as heart rate monitors and various apps can ensure the best preparation for a sporting event.

Olympic athletes require every aspect of their training routine and pre event conditioning to be fine tuned using the latest modern technology in order to unlock the full potential of the human body, although you don’t necessarily have to be the next Usain Bolt to obtain the benefits of such gadget induced methods for improving fitness.


Utilising similar fitness tech to that used by the pros can only help produce improved results and performance at any level, giving yourself the best opportunity to perform at peak fitness during sports and remain competitive in your chosen discipline.

We can now take a look at 5 different ways pro athletes and Olympians use fitness tech to monitor training performance and condition their body’s to optimum standards for when it matters most. Whether it’s the 100m sprint final witnessed by a global following of billions or an aerobically intensive local endurance marathon, these affordable purchase examples may help the rest of us mere mortals make every second and yard count for those looking to stay ahead of their game.

Method 1: In depth heart-rate monitors

Where top athletes are concerned, a low resting heartbeat is as important a sign of a powerful, performance ready heart as is the recovery time taken to rest from maximum heart rate, so if anybody needs an accurate assessment of overall heart rate performance, it’s going to be them. Many athletes assessing their normal heart rate at rest check it immediately after a good night’s sleep. Building your heart muscle up to Olympic level strength and a low resting heart rate between 30-50 BPM takes years of dedicated, intense endurance training.

For heart rate tracking on the move, detailed and long-range heart rate monitors such as the Garmin Forerunner 410 deliver accurate GPS based records and analysis which include workout time, distance covered, average pace and elevation, utilising wireless technology to download long-term fitness data for potential interpretation via fitness experts or coaching staff.


Strapless heart-rate monitors are another option for serious athletes given that they tend to minimise discomfort or annoyance when concentration during a bike sprint or 200m turn doesnt lend itself well towards any complications.

Possible good examples in this category for purchase would include the Mio Alpha Strapless Heart-Rate Monitor Watch, minimising the need for a chest belt and incorporating a motion detector that works with a pulse sensor to filter out any disturbance created by arm movements while walking or running, providing accurate readings even during intense physical activities.




Check here for more info on the best chest heart rate monitors without chest straps.

Method 2: Apps

There are several new apps available for smartphones and tablets which allow even the most novice of tennis players, runners, gymnasts or football players to train like the best. Apps such as the Nike Training Club app feature narrated step-by-step training routines from the likes of world number 1 Serena Williams and many other sports stars at the pinnacle of their profession.

Workouts from professional surfer Lakey Peterson, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Gabby Douglas and American sprinter Carmelita Jeter, the world record holder in the 100-meter sprint, are also imminently accessible. While its unlikely such apps will replace the role of a personal trainer, it certainly provides a cost-effective alternative.

Features of the Nike Training Club app include:

  • Full-body workouts for 30 or 45 minutes. Targeted and professional athlete workouts for 15 minutes. Set a favourite workout as your Quick-Start.
  • Multi-dimensional, multi-directional drills build on the fundamentals of strength, cardio, interval and core training.
  • Exclusive rewards including workouts from Hollywood Trainer Jeanette Jenkins, professional athletes, celebrities, yoga instructors and more.
  • Simple functionality optimizes every workout. Select your goal and fitness level, then choose from a list of workouts that meet your criteria.
  • Set your workout to your own music.
  • Access step-by-step instructions and video demonstrations for every drill at any time.
  • Share your workout and reward status on Facebook and Twitter.


Looking towards next-gen options for heart rate monitors, the latest runBSX app from BSX Athletics looks to shift the standard notion of a fitness app into something altogether more exciting than the current standard heart rate monitor systems.

A more personal and natural fitness plan is possible due to the app’s intuitive adaptation to an individual’s athletic ability, with up to five personalised running zones to match specific needs and goals. Measurements more specific to an athlete’s needs over a stand alone heart rate monitor include metabolic parameters like “lactate threshold” and “VO2 max”, eventually translating core data into something wholly useful and useable, a factor often missing on many basic heart rate and fitness monitors.


 Method 3: Body fat scales

Most of us using body fat scales will do so with the ultimate aim of getting a more detailed reading of body fat loss in comparison to standard weight scales. This can be particularly useful when determining a true body fat percentage drop during a diet and exercise regime, but for athletes, a body fat scale needs to come with an appropriate ‘athlete mode’, taking into account the high muscle mass differences in comparison to regular adult body types.

Some body fat scales will alter its body fat analysis based on athletes and fitness enthusiasts doing intense physical activity of approximately 10 hours per week and who has a resting heart rate of approximately 60 beats per minute or less as a result of years of training which has seen the body change physiologically.


Good examples of body fat scales which cater for more athletic builds include those in the Tanita range, including the BF680W Duo Scale Plus Body Fat Monitor with Athletic Mode and Body Water, containing all the necessary settings to accurately measure an athletic body. This prevents innacurate readings as a result of unusually large muscle mass, while dehydration as a result of physical activity level, illness, medications, poor nutrition, or even a change in climatic conditions can be more quickly addressed.

Method 4: Sophisticated sound devices

Fitness tech need not be limited to conventional assessment of overall cardiovascular fitness or weight, with contemporary audio headsets not only packing the ability to listen to music during a run or workout, also doubling as an all encompassing health and fitness device.

Valencell’s PerformTek is a prime example of this new age all-in-one soundsystem on the move, with the capacity to measure fitness biometrics via an audio headset in an array of environments.

In ear sensor technology streams data to virtually any smartphone device, allowing users to measure information such as heart rate, respiration rate, energy expenditure, calories burned, metabolic rate, speed, steps taken, ventilatory threshold, and recovery time, with the added possibility of simultaneously listening to tracks such as ‘Eye of the Tiger’ for further motivation should you feel so inclined.

Method 5: High-tech bands

A new wave of fun, social network focussed fitness monitoring has propelled Nike’s swelling app and tech range, seeing them emerge as an industry leader in terms of providing amateur athletes and fitness enthusiasts with the ability to access affordable fitness tech and train like their sporting heroes. NikeFuelBand1

The price range of around $149.00 (£98.00) for the original Nike+ Fuelband lends itself to the more serious end of the fitness tech investment scale, but nevertheless provides a discreet and easy-to-use advanced bracelet style LED monitor. This wrist gadget is capable of tracking steps, calories burned, fuel burning goals (converting amount of exercise/movement made with the Fuelband on into ‘fuel points’ for workout incentives), and time.

Rumours of a new incarnation of the fuelband are likely to see it arrive with a dedicated Fuelband Android application and Bluetooth 4.0 integration for more seamless streaming of data, improving the enticing social networking element of sharing your fuel point burning endeavours with friends.


This rundown should provide an insight into how keen sportsmen and women, fitness addicts and wannabe Olympians can construct training regimes similar to their sporting idols on a budget, maximising your potential and helping you keep the dream alive of joining them on the biggest sporting stages, or simply to aid the process of staying in peak physical condition.


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