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Our Top 5 Best Heart Rate Monitors for Athletes, Coaches and Fitness Fanatics
The market for Heart Rate Monitors has grown dramatically over the last 10 years with technology enabling live streaming and instant feedback. In this post, we will share with you the best Heart Rate Monitors currently on the market.
The Heart Rate Monitors included in this post are:
Why use a Heart Rate Monitor?
Our article on the different energy systems, discusses the importance of understanding Heart Rates when training and how your body works to keep you moving. Knowing your heart rate when training can determine how hard you are working, what energy system you are working in and how best to plan your training session. The hearts purpose is to deliver blood around the body and is measured in Beats Per Minutes (BPM).
Most Heart Rate monitors determine your maximum Heart Rate by using the formula below:
220 – Age = Maximum Heart Rate
The harder you work when exercising, the harder and faster the heart has to work to pump blood around the body. In addition to this, depending on what your purpose of training is, will determine what heart rate zone you want to try and work within.
What are Training Zones?
Below are the different heart rate zones that are accepted by most fitness trainers and sports coaches. The percentages are based upon a persons maximum heart rate:
- 90%-80% – Anaerobic Zone (E.g. Sprint Training)
- 80%-70% – Aerobic Zone (Cardio Training)
- 70%-60% – Weight Control Zone (E.g. Fat Burning zone)
- 60%-50% – Moderate Activity (E.g. Warm up and maintain everything zone)
For more on training zones, you may want to check out Heart Rate Training:
Which Heart Rate Monitor is the best to use?
All the heart rate monitors in this article are either chest band or arm band style. The reason for this is that chest and arm band monitors tend to measure the heart rate via electronic signals whereas, wrist watches tend to use optical sensors to detect a persons heart rate.
Researchers have debated the differences between these and that the optical sensors tend to be less reliable and inconsistent when compared to electronic signals. I use a chest strap when training and I found the majority of wrist watches unreliable and tend to lose signal.
Our Top 5 Heart Rate Monitors:
The Garmin HRM-Dual is the ideal training companion for both runners and cyclists. The Garmin HRM Dual monitor is designed to link to Garmin Computers as well as most apps (such a Strava and Map My Run/Ride). Even better, the Garmin GRM-Dual has both Bluetooth and ANT+ functionality. For cyclists who use indoor training technology such as Zwift, this is great news. The battery life can also last up to a staggering 3 and a half years and the chest strap is comfortable to wear as well.
- Both for runners and cyclists
- Can use ANT+ as well as Bluetooth
- Can link to Garmin computers/devices as well as most Apps
- Battery can last up to an amazing 3.5 years
- Comfortable to wear
- Can be used for Zwift
Areas for improvement:
- Unsuitable for swimming
- Check that device and apps will work with the Garmin HRM-Dual before buying
Wahoo Tickr X
The Wahoo Tickr X comes second in our list of the best Heart Rate Monitors. Similar to the Garmin Dual, the Wahoo Tickr X has Bluetooth and ANT+ functionality allowing for more opportunities and range of exercise. You also have the use of the Wahoo training app and works with most other apps. As said previously, it is always worth checking your apps and devices will work with your chosen Heart Rate Monitor first.
- Able to connect though both Bluetooth and ANT+
- 50 hours of memory built in
- Links to Wahoo fitness App and most fitness apps
Areas for Improvement:
- Unable to use for swimming
- Some argue the Heart Rate Monitor is suited more towards runners.
Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor
The Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor is one of the most popular chest monitors around. It is worth checking which software your devices needs before buying. One great feature about the Polar H10 Sensor is that you can link your GoPro Camera with the chest strap and when you download the video, it can include your Heart Rate on the screen.
- Is very popular and one of the best sellers
- Uses Bluetooth And ANT+
- Can link to a GoPro camera and inputs heart rate onto screen
- 400 hours of battery
- Compatible with most smart phones
Areas for Improvement:
- Unsuitable for Swimming
- Need to check strap size before buying
For those who do not like the feeling of a chest strap monitor, then the Polar OH1 Heart Rate Monitor may be for you. The Polar OH1 has an armband style and wraps around the upper arm. Those who do not prefer the chest strap style Heart Rate Monitors may see the Polar OH1 as more comfortable.
Attaches to arm (A great alternative to chest straps)
- Gain access to Polar’s free app and can get live feedback to your smartphone
- Rechargeable battery (up to 12 hours)
- Uses Bluetooth and ANT+
Areas for Improvement
- Some find it uncomfortable to run with an armband on
The Best Heart Rate Monitor For Swimmers
Garmin HRM-SWIM Heart Rate Monitor
The Garmin HRM-SWIM Heart Rate Monitor is the top of the class for the swimmers who want a reliable and drag resistant Heart Rate Monitor. Garmin claim the monitor is designed to limit the impact of drag. The monitor is also designed for swimming pools as well as open water swimming.
- Top of the class for swimmers
- Designed to be non-slip
- Designed to limit the impact of drag
- Can be used for indoor swimming as well as open water swimming
- Up to 18 months battery life
Areas for Improvement:
- Could not Fault. Perhaps a new strap so it could be used for running and cycling.
Our Best 5 Heart Rate Monitors. To recap in order of our favourite:
Do you have any experience with the monitors above or have any further suggestions? Why not leave a comment below.
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