How can you tell if the ‘calories burned’ display on a treadmill is correct? Here’s a spoiler: it’s not. The chances are the figure is a very rough estimate - especially if the machine did not first ask for your age, weight and sex. For a precise figure, the machine should also assess your fitness level, body mass index, and more - which it likely didn’t.
The same logic applies to heart rate monitors. Without a full fitness analysis it is simply impossible to tell at which point your body goes from aerobic fat burning to anaerobic muscle building. Most heart rate monitors come with settings based on industry standards. In other words, you’re comparing yourself with the average Joe.
Recreational athletes may be tempted to say that exact numbers don't matter, as estimates will do and trend curves are more interesting. Then again, if the goal of measuring yourself is to increase understanding of how your body works and develops, looking at incorrect measures may be counterproductive.
Every body is different in so many ways that narrowing it all down to a commonly applicable nominal value is a huge oversimplification. Therefore, for professional and recreational athletes training for a specific goal, industry standards simply won’t do. The more ambitious you are, the more personal metrics you need.
At Checkmylevel, we believe that setting a personal baseline is the key to accurate metrics. An adaptive algorithm adds to the relevancy by adjusting the baseline along the way, to correspond to changes in our body for various reasons. High-level accuracy then allows for predictive suggestions, which in turn help avoid pitfalls such as overtraining symptoms or stress injuries.
It’s time to trash comparisons with the average Joe. Let’s recognize and appreciate that different bodies work different ways.