There are other ways to track your fitness level besides your heart rate, at exercise and rest, which can help you get a good overall picture of how fit you are.
Your VO2 max
VO2 max is all about how efficient you are at using oxygen while you exercise. Some fitness enthusiasts think this is actually more important than measuring your heart rate. One benefit to measuring your VO2 max is that it will literally tell you what threshold you have to reach before your body won’t be able to work any harder. Check out the wearable devices that offer VO2 max tracking!
There are some programs which connect to fitness wearables (like the Apple watch), but health clinic and fitness labs are also a good place to have it tested.
Tracking endurance has been made easier by fitness wearables which track how well you’ve been able to sustain a particular exercise. It’s also very motivating to see the trends and gains over time. Keeping a handwritten journal or log can also give you metrics on your endurance.
Keeping track of your speeds over time can give you goals to strive toward, and this is a good indicator of how well you’re progressing. Wearables can keep the data for you, but there is something very satisfying about writing down your personal bests.
One of the best ways to measure how well your routines are working is based on your strength. There are some apps which can log it for you, but it’s easy to keep track of in a notebook or journal. There are even digital compression shorts which can now tell you hard your muscles have been working during your exercise—but tracking your strength output should be all you need. (Also, check out this website for shorts that measure your body shape and help you feel good about losing inches!)
Your Body Composition
Body composition is a measure of how much water mass, lean muscle mass, bone mass, and visceral and subcutaneous fat you have. It can be a good way to see what’s been happening inside as you’ve been working on your fitness levels. Some home scales have body composition readers, and some gyms also provide tools to test body composition. If you want a 3D body composition scan, look for local providers, and if all else fails, you can use skin-fold calipers to give you an idea of where you are in your fitness journey.