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Does anyone have any real experience with using FitBit or any other monitor for weight lifting. I'm interested in tracking calories burned without guessing.

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closed as too broad by JohnP, Matt Chan Feb 18 at 2:14

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I've seen a lot of complaints about the usefulness of pedometers on fitness bands. I'm waiting for one of the bands to come out with a built-in heart rate monitor. It must be difficult, because none of them do it. This is coming out at the end of the year and looks kinda cool: uncrate.com/stuff/atlas-fitness-tracker –  Daniel Feb 10 at 16:43
    
No experience, but I'm guessing that it would be of limited use at its very best, and useless as the most likely outcome. I'm basing this simply on the way that it is presented as most functional, and extrapolating to how it might work in a weightlifting setting. Even there, it would only really be applicable in open chain exercises that involve both hands. (It would only count 1/2 in single arm rows, for example.) –  JohnP Feb 10 at 16:56
    
I'm waiting for THIS –  Dan Andrews Feb 10 at 18:07
    
@DanAndrews That's exactly what I've been waiting for. Can't wait for those to come out! –  Daniel Feb 10 at 18:35
    
@Doc I don't know if it will deliver as promised, however on paper, it's what I'm looking for too. –  Dan Andrews Feb 10 at 18:38

2 Answers 2

Short answer: NO

If you think critically about the activities you perform during weightlifting, and the activities that the fitbit tracks, you'll understand why. Let's dig in a little deeper:

  • Fitbit tracks steps taken (i.e. pedometer)
  • It estimates calories burned probably by the cadence of those steps and the total number taken
  • It does not track heart rate. While you can enter that information in the tracker, fitbit does not sell any device that tracks it.

When you are weightlifting, the following is true most of the time:

  • You are standing/sitting/laying down in one place as you lift the barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells.
  • In some cases you are performing a static hold--which while it takes tremendous effort and burns more calories than at rest--will show up as 0 activity on the fitbit.
  • When performing farmer's walks, suitcase carries, waiter's walks, fitbit will only record the steps taken--it cannot account for the extra effort required to hold the heavy implements.

The long story short, a pedometer is very ill suited for strength training. You can get a better picture of energy expenditure and calories burned by using a heart rate monitor. While this does have it's own challenges, particularly when the bar comes in contact with your chest, the information you get from the heart rate monitor is much more useful. You do need it calibrated for your current level of fitness, but even with the rough ballpark estimates it will be much closer than a pedometer.

I wrote about using a heart rate monitor back in 2011 for weight training. While it is useful, I only break it out now when I have target heart rate ranges I'm aiming for during training. For example, if I want to build my aerobic performance while weight training I will try to maintain a heart rate of 120-150 bpm.

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For your specific task (calculating burned cals), no matter what fitness band you choose, it's still a calculation to figure out how many calories you've burnt. With any calculation, there's a level of tolerance and you need to be able to accept the tolerance. If you're just worried about the number of calories burned, you could calculate it yourself and be pretty close.

With that said, a fitness band is an awesome accessory to help you reach your goals. But what are your expectations? Your question is regarding weight lifting, but your inner question is about calculating calories burned. For weight lifting, you'll find almost no benefit from the FitBit Flex or Force - but they may be helpful for overall fitness.

Some of the most important metrics (IMHO) are missing in a lot of them - such as temperature and heart rate. Buying a band now instead of later may mean that you're just going to buy one later as well as you'll want the features of the newer models.

I won't try to regurgitate the information in some REALLY good blog posts about the subject, so I'll link them here:

As mentioned in my comment, I'm extremely excited and waiting for Amigo - probably to the point that I won't buy one until this comes out or one comes out with these features.


Added 2/27/14

I just wanted to point to the Moov - COMPANY LINK HERE, Amigo, move over! :) The Moov is awesome.

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Just to add that Moov (link above) just released the app for an Android. I'm one happy camper now! –  Dan Andrews Dec 3 at 20:50

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