Heart Rate Monitor Watches – The Essential Guide

Why do you need a Heart Rate Monitor Watch?

When you exercise it is important to know that you are getting the most out of it. Time is so precious to us these days, that when we do manage to get to the Gym or go for a run we need to optimize our time there.

Another important reason to buy yourself a watch to monitor your heart rate is if you are just returning to exercise after having a heart attack. Or if you are exercising when you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or other illnesses of the heart. Your Doctor will be able to help you to discover at what rate your heart should get to when you are exercising. Wearing a watch with this capability will help you monitor this, so you do not suffer any undue health problems.

Wearing a monitor watch while training will help you structure your routine. By showing you which zones you are in. For example perhaps you need to do more Cardio exercises to increase your heart rate and enable you to burn more fat and become fitter. It could show you that you need to increase the intensity of your workouts by adding in some strength training. It can also show you how much rest you should be taking between exercises, so your heart rate is allowed to drop back to a more normal rate before starting again. If you are into HIIT then a heart rate monitor watch will definitely help you get the most out of your short bursts and push you to do more.

How To Workout your Heart Rate Zones

The rate at which our heart rate beats can benefit different areas of our routine. This rate is known as zones. To work out what your personal zones are you need to know what you maximum heart rate is. A simple calculation is to subtract your age from 220.

From this work out these percentages – 60%, 70% and 80%.

If your heart beats at 70%-80% of its maximum then this is best for increasing our fitness level.

At 60%-70% of maximum this is the zone best for fat-burning and building endurance.

So no matter what your goals are when training, knowing what zone you are in when working out will help you achieve them.

Heart Rate Monitor Watch Buying Guide

There are many different models, makes and price points on the market that at first glance it may seem like the choice is over-whelming. However fear not it all depends on what you really want one for.

For example if you just workout at home or down the gym two or three times a week to burn off a few extra calories then the features you need are limited and a cheaper one will be fine.

The cheaper ones will monitor your heart rate and some show you the calories you are burning too. However there is some debate how accurate this is, but you may find it a useful motivator and guide. These ones will also record your session and may have audible alarms that sound when you reach a target zone.

The less expensive ones tend to only have the ability to record one session, although some allow you to download this to a PC, so you can keep it. This is sometimes only achieved by the purchase of an optional accessory, such as Polar Flowlink. It could be just as easy to get a notebook and keep your own record.

A good popular example of a simple heart rate monitor watch is the Polar FT1 priced at around $50 on Amazon.

If you are more into training for a Triathlon or Marathon then you probably need one with more features and sophistication. These more expensive ones come with such things as GPS built in, so you can track the distance you run or cycle. They also have the ability to record several sessions over-time. A popular one in this category is the Garmin Forerunner With GPS or the Polar RCX5 with GPS. These are priced in the $200+ range on Amazon.

A compromise, if you do not need GPS, but still want the ability to record more than one session and set different training zones is the Polar FT4. This is currently around $70 on Amazon.

The Top 5 Heart Rate Monitor Watches

Key to The Heart Rate Monitor Comparison Guide

Image – image of Product

Name Of Product – Clickable link for more pricing and reviews


$$$$$ – >$150

$$$$ – $125 – $150

$$$ – $75 – $125

$$ – $50 – $75

$ – <$50

Please note these prices change frequently based on availability, special promotion and more, but the price shown here is a good guide.

Average Review – What are people on  Amazon are rating the monitors at.

The rest of the table shows the most common features and if the heart rate monitor watch contains them.

​The table is sortable by clicking on the top of the column.

ImageLinkRatingPriceCalories BurnedFitness ZonesWaterproofActivity TimerChest StrapGPSBluetooth
HeartQ Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) & Sports WatchHeartQ Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) & Sports Watch5$$YYNYYNN
Scosche RHYTHM plus Heart Rate Monitor ArmbandScosche RHYTHM plus Heart Rate Monitor Armband4.6$$$YYNYNNY, Pairs with various Iphone & Android Apps
Polar FT40Polar FT40 Women's Heart Rate Monitor Watch (Black)4.5$$$YYY up to 30mYYNN
Suunto QuestSUUNTO Quest Heart Rate Monitor Black4.5$$YYNYYNN
Polar FT4Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor4.4$$YYY up to 30mYYNN

Strapless Heart Rate Monitor Watch

 strapless heart rate monitor watchesMost of these types of watches come with a strap that you wear around you chest. This strap detects you heart rate and wirelessly transmits it to your watch. An example is the Polar Wearlink.

The strap can become uncomfortable especially during a long session.

Another consideration is that if you are a larger person the strap provided might not fit.

For these reasons a couple of notable manufacturers developed strapless technology. The monitoring of the heart rate is built into the watch.

Examples are the MIO Motiva and the Sportline 925​The table found here can be sorted to show the ones that are strapless at the top.

Buying one that has no chest strap is a bit of a compromise. The majority of these models are not able to be monitor constantly. Most of this type of watch require you to stop and touch the watch, normally at the face for it to take a reading.

One exception to this is the MIO Alpha I Strapless Continuous Heart Rate Monitor, which has sensors that sit on the wrist and monitor your pulse. This may be the solution, but at round $200 on Amazon, not the cheapest. Again it comes down to what you want the watch for and if it is ok for you to update your heart rate reading on demand.

Other Features to Look for in Heart Rate Monitor Watches

If you want to use your watch when swimming, then beware that although a watch may say waterproof it does not mean that it will work underwater.

Good ones that do work are the Polar models and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof Running GPS With USB ANT Stick and Heart Rate Monitor.

If you do wear it underwater, it is advisable to not press any of the buttons, in case water gets into the watch.

Does the watch enable you to download the data recorded to the PC? For the Polar watches this is the case, but only with the optional Polar Flowlink, which is around $40 on Amazon. This connects via USB to either PC or Mac and then syncs to the watch.

Other models include a USB connector in the package. The Garmin forerunner 310XT is able to transmit the data wirelessly to your PC.

A couple of the others include Bluetooth to help connect to an app on your IPhone or Android phone.  For a review of three of the best ones have a look here – Android Heart Rate Monitor Review.


Heart Rate Monitor Watches have come down in price a lot and the technology has much improved since they first came out. If you want to take your training to the next level they are a must. They also help to motivate you by showing you how hard you have worked, how many calories you have burnt and by allowing you to track your progress.

For the full comparison table have a look here – http://beingfitandhealthyrocks.com/heart-rate-monitor-watch-reviews/.

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