wearable technology. Some are useful, others not so much. While some people say that all you need in order to work out is motivation, I beg to differ. Working out without setting goals or without monitoring your body’s limitations will put a lot of unnecessary strain on you.Lately, more and more fitness gadgets and trackers have popped up on the market as the latest fad in
If there is one accessory that you should get in order to improve yweaour fitness performances, it’s a heart rate monitor. Of course, trendy tank tops and fitness tracking apps can also be useful, but they pale in comparison with a heart rate monitor. Before we jump to the best heart rate monitors let’s see why they are really worth the money:
- Finding Balance: According to Jason Fitzgerald, an elite marathoner & running coach, it is essential that runners and athletes schedule “easy workouts” in order to recover after intense training. These types of workouts will ultimately lead to better stamina and performance. With a heart rate monitor it is easier to calculate normal BPMs. Keep in mind, however, that normal heart rate is a difficult thing to measure because it depends on variables such as fitness level and age. Nevertheless, fitness coaches believe that people should try to keep their BPM at 65-70% of their maximum capacity.
“Wearing heart rate monitors on easy days is a good way to keep yourself honest and make sure your heart rate doesn’t go above what it should be.”
- Measure your maximum heart rate: have you ever worked out so hard that you ran out of breath and collapsed? That’s because you reached your maximum heart rate. There is a 220-minus-age-formula that supposedly calculates your maximum heart-rate, but this is only an estimate. Maximum BPM depends on several other factors besides age. With a heart rate monitor it is possible to find out your maximum heart rate. Simply put your tracker on during an intense workout and the maximum value recorded on it will most likely be your maximum capacity. By knowing your maximum heart rate it will be easier for you to understand your limitations and capabilities.
- Tempo workouts: are probably the best way for runners to increase their performance. The secret to faster & longer workouts isn’t just about training your body, but also about learning how to breathe. During a tempo training you can use a heart rate monitor to make sure that your BPM doesn’t exceed 85-90% of your maximum capacity.
- Improve endurance: beginners are recommended to stick to a 50-65% level while intermediate-level individuals should strive for 65-70% level (of their maximum BPM). The heart rate monitor makes it easy to check out these metrics while training, giving you better control over your workout.
- Most heart rate monitors also track other metrics such as speed, location, distance, weight and height for more accurate reporting.
With this in mind, we have selected, what we believe to be, the best heart rate monitors available on the market. So let’s start with our number one:
Price: 90$ | Rating: 9.4/10
The Polar RS300x is more than just a heart rate monitor. Its simplistic interface and extensive capabilities have firmly planted it in one of the top positions for fitness gadgets. With Polar RS300X you can accurately monitor the efficiency and intensity of daily workouts with the help of metrics such as calories burned, duration of exercise, lap times, heartbeat, alarms etc.
When it isn’t used as a fitness tracker, the RS300x makes for a very stylish watch. However, when you turn on training mode you will have an easier time interacting with the gadget. You can set goals on it, and once you reach them (example: target heart rate zone), an alarm will notify you.
The Polar RS300x may seem a bit clunky but it’s actually quite small and weighs only 1.3 ounces and has a fully functional design. It is available in two colours: orange and black and with an adjustable strap. Although this feature isn’t anything new, we should mention that the RS300x also has a backlight for night-viewing.
Heart rate monitors aren’t designed only for tracking BPM at a given moment. Data becomes invaluable when it is stored and compared with previous performances. Like many other trackers, the RS300x also has a “progress over time” feature but this data cannot be transferred without an additional accessory.
This heart rate monitor has an exceptionally long battery life (almost two years), great indicators and interesting features.
Once the battery life runs out you will have to take your gadget to a service center to have it replaced.
Price: 119$ | Rating: 9.2/10
FitBit fitness gadgets are among the best in the world, so it did not come as a surprise when the company decided to release two new gadgets with heart rate monitoring features. The FitBit Charge HR, a wrist-worn tracker, uses a green LED light to detect heart rate based on how blood flows through veins.
The first impression that I got from the FitBit Charge HR is that it is extremely sleek. It has such an inconspicuous design that it can blend with any type of outfit. It also comes in different colours including plum, tangerin and blue. The screen is a monochrome OLED display which renders vivid images.
If tracking features is what you want, then the FitBit Charge HR definitely has them. Besides all the usual statistics, like daily number of steps, calories/day and sleep patterns, it will also track heart rate data and compare it with your other activities.
We tested the heart rate information in the gym, while strapped into some of the machines, and found the Fitbit Charge HR to be generally spot-on, which is impressive. – Source: Wearable
On the downside, FitBit can’t really tell the difference between exercise types. It simply tracks your activity, heart rate and pulls out calorific burn.
FitBit has an elegant design, strong tracking features and a nifty smart caller ID function.
Unlike the previous example, it is not waterproof and it’s lacking in the run tracking department.
Price: 299.99$ | Rating: 9.1/10The Garmin Forerunner 220 is arguably the best GPS running tracker. On the downside, it is also one of the most expensive ones. For a GPS tracker, 180×180 pixels resolution is amazing. If you are opting for the Garmin Forerunner 220 you should know that the heart rate monitor feature must be bought separately. Make sure your device comes in the complete package before purchasing.
In terms of design, the Garmin Forerunner 220 can’t really be considered a beauty, but it has a nice display and comfortable feel. It comes in White/Violet and Black/Red colours.
This fitness tracker has several interesting features, including the heart rate monitor, personal records, waterproof casing, free training plans with Garmin connect and a removable band. It also received over 4.5 stars on Amazon.
We gave it the third spot in our list because its GPS features are the best, but as a heart rate monitoring tool it’s not the top choice.
You have to purchase the BPM feature separately.
Price: 59.37$ | Rating: 9.0/10
This device was designed with heart rate monitoring in mind and it does a very good job. It is, without a doubt, the ideal choice for beginners because it is incredibly easy to set-up. For example, it can show you how many calories you burned while training while also offering continuous heart rate monitoring.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the design. The gadget comes in blue, silver, bronze, purple and green variants and has waterproof casing (resistant down to 30m). In other words, it may be the ideal choice for swimmers. For heart rate monitoring features you will have to set-up the Cheststrap.
The Polar FT4 heart rate monitor can track up to 10 training files and also offers exercise tips. I appreciated the fact that it is waterproof and extremely cheap, compared to other trackers.
Personally, I don’t like the design of the tracker.
Price: 59.37$ | Rating: 8.8/10
Up until now we reviewed light-weight gadgets. For our last position we decided to go with something a bit sturdier. THe Suunto M2 Women’s HRM and Fitness Training Watch is quite large and has enough space on its screen. This makes it easy to read during the day. However, it has no backlight function, so it can be difficult to read when it’s dark.
Besides heart rate monitoring functions it also gives information about burnt calories in real-time. You can set-up 3 heart rate training zones and Suunto will alert you every-time you step out of them.
The watch features two navigational buttons, and a locking button on the side. The band is made from synthetic rubber and the large watch displays clear & crisp text. The chest strap is comfortable to wear. The Suunto M2 heart rate monitor comes in Black and Pink/White.
I consider that Suunto M2 is incredible in its apparent simplicity. The design is very elegant and the price is very good.
This gadget has no backlight.
So there you have it, our top 5 heart rate monitors. We reviewed cheap ones & the expensive ones in order to provide as many options for you as possible.