Heart rate monitors best: Chest Straps, EKG, Watches | WIRED

Chest Straps, EKG, Watches


These chest straps and watches can help keep your finger on the pulse of your wellness.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

Featured in this article

Where to Wear It

Read more

Best All-Round

Polar h20

Read more

$88 at Amazon

Runner Up

Garmin Forerunner 265

Read more

$450 at Best Buy

For Indoor Cyclists

Wahoo Tickr X

Read more

$79 at Amazon

Show more

4 / 8

Those days of getting a heart rate reading only when you visit your physician are truly a thing of the past. You don’t even have to spend big money or leave your home to get a sense of your heart rate during exercise or at rest.

The rise of optical and EKG (electrocardiogram) sensors that can now reliably deliver that information from your wrist, chest, or arm means you can better understand how hard you hit it in that boot camp class and get a window into the most stressful periods of your day.

For more sports and fitness guides, check out the Best Fitbits, Best Fitness Trackers and Watches, Best Running Gear, and the Best Wireless Earbuds for Working Out.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

  • Photograph: olegbreslavtsev/Getty Images

    Where to Wear It

    Why you want a heart rate monitor? What kind of information do you need to see, and when and how will you wear the device? Asking these questions will help you get a heart rate monitor that not only delivers wearability, accuracy, and value, but is right for your lifestyle and health needs.

    Where on your body you want to wear a heart rate monitor is a pretty important factor. Wearing one on the wrist, as part of a smartwatch, may be the most convenient way to track heart rate, though a strap—typically on the chest and more recently the upper arm or bicep—can generate more accurate data for activities like exercise. If you want to track heart rate during sleep, make sure you opt for a form factor that isn’t going to feel bulky or become a nuisance for your sleeping companion. If you’re hoping to use it with other fitness equipment or a watch, look for the type of Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity support to do that with single or multiple devices.

  • Photograph: Polar Electro

    Best All-Round

    Polar h20

    A chest strap remains the most accurate way to track your heart rate for exercise, putting an EKG sensor closest to your heart. The Polar h20 is the standout here. That’s because Polar has replaced the typical loop-and-hook connector found on most monitors with a buckle-style connector to reduce irritation. The company also uses small silicone dots to make sure the strap stays put during high-intensity activities so the HR data is still good.

    Comfort aside, it’s the most accurate of the monitors I’ve tested for exercise. There were no glaring drop-outs or underreporting or overreporting during my test runs, indoor cycles, strength training, or interval sessions. Having some built-in memory to store data for a session is useful, and the ANT+ connectivity means you can effortlessly link equipment like turbo trainers or swap out the HR stats on your watch for more accurate ones. You can take it for a swim too, and you won’t have to replace the battery for a year, even if you’re wearing it on a regular basis.

    $88 at Amazon

    $90 at Polar

    $85 at Heart Rate Monitors USA

  • Photograph: Garmin

    Runner Up

    Garmin Forerunner 265

    If a chest strap is out of the question because you need to see your metrics in real time and glance at them during the day, the Forerunner 265 is a multisport watch that can deliver reliable heart rate metrics during workouts, and even when you head to bed.

    The headline change from the previous 255 is the addition of a vibrant AMOLED touchscreen display inside a 42-mm or 46-mm case, which holds Garmin’s Elevate optical heart rate sensor. That delivers continuous heart rate data by the second and does so reliably. During runs and indoor workouts, the sensor holds up well at high intensity, with the support to pair to external heart rate monitors if want to go pro. That optical sensor also brings other useful measurements, like heart rate variability (HRV), which fuels useful features such as Training Readiness. This uses HRV, along with other metrics, to provide a clear sense of whether you should go hard or give your body a rest day.

    $450 at Best Buy

    $450 at Amazon

    $450 at Heart Rate Monitors USA

  • Photograph: Wahoo Fitness

    For Indoor Cyclists

    Wahoo Tickr X

    Few monitors feel like they belong on the bodies of cyclists—but the Wahoo Tickr X is one of them. Especially if you spend more than your fair share of that bike time in the confines of your home.

    The latest Tickr X, with its 50 hours of onboard storage, uses an EKG sensor. And it now integrates that sensor into a strap that’s slimmer than the one used in the last iteration. Wahoo uses LED light indicators that you can glance at during workouts to see clearly that it’s reading your heart rate and has successfully connected to another piece of smart indoor bike equipment over ANT+ or Bluetooth. That connectivity support means you can pair multiple devices at the same time, making it ideal to hook up to Zwift and Peloton—plus it plays nice with an Apple Watch. It also works with Wahoo’s own phone app to track cycling cadence, with additional advanced metrics when you swap biking for your running shoes.

    $79 at Amazon

    $111 at Walmart

    $80 at Wahoo

Most Popular

  • Photograph: Polar Electro

    For Chest-Strap Haters

    Polar Verity Sense

    Chest straps might be the gold standard for tracking your heart rate during intense exercise, but they’re not comfortable for everyone. If you’re yearning to get that accurate data from somewhere else, there’s the Polar Verity Sense.

    Polar has placed its optical sensor technology in a small sensor that sits inside a cradle with a machine-washable strap that’s worn on your upper arm. The device promises accuracy on par with a chest strap. It’s not spotless, but it certainly delivers better heart rate data for high-intensity workouts than most wrist-based sensors can. Polar offers the ability to transmit heart rate data to watches, lets you store 600 hours of workouts, and allows you to clip the Sense to goggles to track your heart rate during swims. It’s not the only arm-based sensor available; devices like the Whoop 4.0 ($239) also let you track from that position, but this Polar is a cheaper and better way to get reliable stats away from the chest.

    $90 at Amazon

    $90 at Walmart

    $90 at Heart Rate Monitors USA

  • Photograph: Apple

    Best Smartwatch for Heart Rate

    Apple Watch Series 8

    People love the Apple Watch (8/10, WIRED Recommends) for its day-to-day smartwatch features, but it has also evolved into a fantastic health and fitness companion. A big part of that is down to the work Apple has done finessing its heart rate sensor technology, and that continues with the Series 8.

    We’ll start with the fact that there are both EKG and optical sensors here. The former has the regulatory approval to detect signs of serious heart health issues, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), and easily share heart rate data with medical professionals. On the fitness side, this is one of the best-performing smartwatches we’ve tested for high-intensity exercise, which is where so many other watches falter. It also performs more reliably than the larger Apple Watch Ultra (8/10, WIRED Recommends) on that front. Apple lets you pair up external heart rate monitors and gives you access to an extensive collection of sports and health apps that can harness those heart rate sensors to offer even more useful insights.

    $399 at Amazon

    $399 at Apple

    $400 at Target

    $399 at Best Buy

  • Photograph: Fitbit

    An Affordable Fitbit

    Fitbit Charge 5

    All of Fitbit’s smartwatches and fitness trackers have the power to track your heart in some way, and the Charge 5 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) squeezes its latest smarts into a fitness band that can last a week on a single charge. It’s our favorite tracker for good reason.

    You have the EKG sensor here, as seen on Fitbit’s pricier Sense smartwatch, and—similar to the Apple Watch (above)—this carries regulatory approval to check for signs associated with AFib, as well as monitoring for irregular heart rate rhythms. Fitbit also puts its optical sensor to good use when you’re tracking heart rate continuously and during sleep, letting you see when your heart rate goes above or below a set threshold and capturing HRV measurements to analyze your stress levels. It’s less impressive for more rigorous exercise and doesn’t let you pair with external sensors to improve that data—this is an affordable tracker, after all. What the Charge 5 gives you, though, is the best of Fitbit’s tracking with an AMOLED display and heart rate data that you can rely on for general health insights.

    $150 at Best Buy

    $150 at Amazon

    $150 at Target

Most Popular

  • Photograph: Garmin

    For Garmin Owners

    Garmin HRM-Pro Plus

    If you’ve already got a Garmin watch on your wrist or a Garmin bike computer mounted to your handlebar, the HRM-Pro Plus offers a seamless route to more accurate heart rate data so you can better gauge your fitness levels and recovery needs.

    The EKG sensor didn’t falter at high intensity when I tested it out on runs, indoor HIIT bike sessions, or bodyweight workouts. It’s now much easier to remove the battery than with Garmin’s earlier chest strap, though you won’t need to think about that for at least a year. The ANT+ and Bluetooth support mean it works with apps and platforms like Zwift, and there were no flaky pairing issues with the latest Fenix, Forerunner, or AMOLED-packing Epix watches. Extra features include advanced running metrics, like vertical oscillation and ground contact time, to help you dig deeper into your form. And if you want to wear it for a game of soccer, it’ll double as an activity tracker to count steps and intensity minutes.

    $135 at Amazon

    $135 at Walmart

    $135 at Target

    $99 at Best Buy (HRM-Swim)

Topicsbuying guidesShoppingSportsworkoutExercise

More from WIRED

Best Chest Strap Heart-Rate Monitors for 2023

The World Health Organization says adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. To keep track, you need a chest strap heart-rate monitor. Though wearables like smartwatches and smart rings can measure your heart rate easily on the go, the best heart-rate monitors offer some of the most accurate heart-rate readings. Many chest strap heart-rate monitors can also easily pair with your smartwatch, fitness tracker or smartphone.

Heart-rate monitors are helpful for a range of scenarios, including if you’re an athlete training for a race, since they can help you improve your performance or adjust your goals. If you’re the average person who works out for health or fun, tracking your heart rate can keep you in tune with your cardiovascular system, such as monitoring irregular heart rhythms or knowing your heart rate variability, or HRV.

Chest strap heart-rate monitors have a reputation for being uncomfortable to wear during exercise, but we found a few that passed the wear test. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best chest strap heart-rate monitors. We update this list periodically as new models become available.

How we tested chest strap heart-rate monitors 

Function during exercise: I tested each one of these heart-rate monitors during strength training and walking workouts to see how well they work for various activities.

Comfort: I rated them based on how comfortable the chest strap felt during my workouts.

Features: I considered the function of various features, like connectivity to other devices or apps, and whether other metrics are captured in addition to heart rate. I also looked at the battery life. 

Compared it to a trusted heart-rate monitor: I compared it to my Apple Watch, which captures my heart rate throughout my workouts. While this might not be the best method of testing for accuracy, it’s what I had available to me, and the Apple Watch data is easy to read and consistent.

Factors to consider

  • Determine what type of activity you will be doing while wearing a chest strap heart-rate monitor. Most are suitable for a range of cardio activities, from running to cycling, but not all would work for swimming, for example.
  • Decide how much you’re willing to spend on a chest strap heart-rate monitor. You can find reliable ones for under $50, but if you want all the bells and whistles you can expect to spend over $150.
  • Figure out how important battery life is to you and how often you want to charge or replace it. Some chest strap heart-rate monitor batteries can last over a year, while others can last around 500 hours. This will vary per device and how often you use it.
  • Decide if you will be connecting the heart-rate monitor mainly to your smartphone or if you plan on connecting it to other devices. This will influence whether you want it to have ANT Plus or Bluetooth connectivity. Most now come with both, but it’s still important to check.

How to choose a chest strap heart-rate monitor

When it comes to choosing the best heart-rate monitor chest strap for your workout, many of the factors in your buying decision will be based on personal preferences and your workout regimen. Here are a few things to look at while shopping.

Strap width: Before you buy, consider whether you’d be more comfortable with a heart-rate tracker that uses a slim strap or a wider one.

Module size: Some chest straps use tiny modules (the plastic puck-like part) that don’t extend over the edges of the strap. Others, however, use larger monitors to measure your heart rate. Which style you choose to track your workout depends on your comfort preference.

Internal storage: If you don’t like to hold your smartphone during your workout, opt for a heart-rate training monitor that can store your data in its own built-in storage. You can later transfer your heart-rate reading to your phone via your monitor’s companion app.

Metrics: Consider what you want to monitor during your workout. Higher-end models capture real-time data covering everything from run cadence to stride length, as well as things like blood pressure, calorie burn and heart-rate variability to help you reach your fitness goals, while more basic models might track only your heart rate.

Battery: A wearable chest strap monitor can have all kinds of power sources. Some have a rechargeable battery. Others may have super-long battery life, but the battery isn’t user replaceable or rechargeable. A longer battery life is always convenient — no one wants a monitor to peter out during a run — but there are lots of options. Make sure to check the description for battery life before buying a monitor.

Chest strap vs. wrist-worn heart-rate monitors: Chest strap and wrist-worn heart-rate monitors are both used to measure heart rate, but they use different methods to provide readings. 

Electrical heart-rate sensors, found most commonly in chest strap heart-rate monitors, can detect electrical currents produced by your heart, somewhat similarly to what is done at the doctor’s office with an ECG. These are considered the most accurate heart-rate readings because the electrical sensor can handle measuring your heart rate even during vigorous activity.  

Optical heart-rate sensors use an LED light to track your pulse rate in the arteries as blood pumps through them. Optical heart-rate sensors are found in smartwatches and are useful to read your heart rate while at rest or walking, but are less reliable for high-intensity activity because the readings can be distorted.

ANT Plus vs. Bluetooth: Most wrist-worn heart-rate monitors like the Apple Watch use Bluetooth, which only lets you connect to one device. For example, if you’re recording an outdoor run, you can only connect your Apple Watch to your iPhone. 

ANT Plus technology, however, lets you wirelessly connect to multiple devices at once. This is a good option for athletes who are trying to track data from multiple sources. You can find this form of technology on devices like chest strap heart-rate monitors, indoor or outdoor bike computers and some smartwatches. 

However, if you’re planning on using a device that uses only ANT Plus technology and want to connect it to your smartphone, know that some Androids have ANT Plus technology capabilities, while iPhones do not. To find out if your device is capable of connecting to your Android, you have to find the ANT Plus Plugins app in the Google Play store and browse its compatible device directory. If you have an iPhone or an Android that does not have the capability to connect to your ANT Plus device, you will need an adapter to add to your phone. 

Most people prefer the Bluetooth option because it connects faster and it’s easily found on most devices. The good news is there are many heart-rate monitors that include both ANT Plus and Bluetooth to make the user experience easier. 

Heart-rate monitor FAQs

Best chest heart rate monitors: top 5


If you want to better monitor your overall physiological capacity, you need to carefully monitor your heart rate. As practice has shown, this can be best done using a chest heart rate monitor. In our review, we will help you choose the best chest heart rate monitor.

Contents of the page

  • 1 Heart rate monitor in chest and sports watch/fitness bracelet: what’s the difference?
  • 2 How do chest heart rate monitors work?
  • 3 Top 5 chest heart rate monitors
    • 3.1 Wahoo Fitness Tickr X
    • 3.2 Garmin Hrm Tri
    • 3.3 Suunto Smart Belt
    • 3.4 Polar h20
    • 3.5 MyZone MZ-3
  • 4 Tips
  • 5 Feature Comparison Chart

Heart rate monitor for chest and sports watch/fitness bracelet: what’s the difference?

Chest strap heart rate trackers provide more consistent and accurate heart rate readings than a wrist watch. This is due to the higher reading frequency and less fluctuation on the body. However, not all athletes find the belt comfortable, especially if the user does not know how to properly wear a chest heart rate monitor. Most of all, it is suitable for runners or cyclists, but not for fitness rooms. Some swimmers use a chest heart rate monitor, although there are reports that it squeezes the chest and brings discomfort.

Nowadays, many fitness bands and smartwatches include an optical heart rate sensor. Instead of measuring electrical impulses like the belt does, it uses light to read the pulse of blood flow through the skin. While these gadgets are more convenient, optical sensors aren’t as accurate and aren’t always the best choice. They will not be a good companion for people who participate in high-intensity interval training and other workouts that experience sudden changes in heart rate.

How do chest heart rate monitors work?

There are three groups of heart rate belts: one wirelessly connects to a smartphone or PC, and the other uses a combination of two sensors that communicate with each other. In this case, it uses a device on the wrist – be it a sports watch or a fitness band – that provides a wireless connection to a chest strap. The third group is able to connect to both smartphones and PCs, as well as fitness bracelets and watches. Communication with peripheral devices is carried out using a Bluetooth or ANT + channel.

Using the first group belt, the athlete will not have immediate feedback when using a chest heart rate monitor because it does not have a display. All data from its memory will be transferred to a smartphone or PC after training. Otherwise, the phone will have to be taken with you for a run.

When exercising with a second group belt, you can view your heart rate and other data directly on the watch screen during exercise.

In any case, it is up to you to decide which type is preferable.

Top 5 chest straps

There are many models of accurate heart rate belts on the market today. We offer an overview of chest heart rate monitors that provide the most accurate heart rate data compared to fitness bracelets and sports smartwatches.

Wahoo Fitness Tickr X

The Tickr X includes a sensor that counts reps during strength training and records advanced exercise metrics such as vertical body oscillation and ground contact time during a run, as well as speed and distance. Cycling enthusiasts will be able to experience cadence when using the Wahoo Fitness app.

This chest strap with heart rate monitor reliably tracks your heart rate during workouts and sends data via ANT+ and Bluetooth to any device you have at hand, be it an Android/iOS phone or some fitness tracker. The Tickr X has a built-in memory of up to 16 hours of information that you can view in the app later.

The device provides feedback to the user with two small flashing LEDs, one red to indicate that a heart rate has been detected and one blue to indicate that the Tickr X is connected to another device.

Another type of feedback is vibration during certain user actions. For example, when the tracker is programmed to start or stop the music track when you touch it.

Fitness Tickr X not only positions itself as a running heart rate monitor with a chest strap, but is also quite suitable for fitness enthusiasts. It offers more than any other chest heart rate monitor on our list, which is why we gave it the number one spot on this list.

9 0084 $49.99

Water resistance IPX7
Battery standard replacement CR 2032 (half a year)


  • Works with many applications
  • Water resistant
  • User feedback
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ included


  • Connected device (sports watch or fitness band) can only view heart rate data – other metrics can only be viewed using apps
  • Not swimmable

Garmin Hrm Tri

Designed specifically for triathletes, the Garmin chest strap with a small and lightweight tracker adjusts for comfort both in the water and on land. This strap can be used not only by swimmers, but also by athletes in the gym as a traditional heart rate monitor. The tracker sends real-time heart rate data to the paired watch using ANT+ wireless transmission technology (instead of Bluetooth LE).

When you swim, the heart rate sensor stores up to 20 hours of heart rate information, and then when you leave the pool, it transmits it to the connected Garmin watch. This is because ANT+ signals cannot pass through water.

The HRM Tri chest strap is compatible with the following Garmin watches:

  • Tactix Bravo
  • Forerunner 935
  • Forerunner 735
  • Forerunner 920
  • 9001 9 Fenix ​​5 Series

  • Fenix ​​Chronos
  • Fenix ​​3 Series
  • Bravo D2
  • Epix
  • Quatix

In addition to standard running heart rates, the HRM Tri provides movement dynamics including cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time (when used with Epi x, Fenix ​​3 and Forerunner 920XT).

The free Garmin Connect online community lets you store your data, plan your workouts, and share your results with others. You can view detailed swim metrics including heart rate graphs, swim speed, stroke type, mapping and more. And also track activity statistics: daily steps, distance and calories burned.

The Garmin HRM Tri is a great chest heart rate monitor for swimming, fitness, running and cycling with durable construction and accurate readings.

Water resistance 5 ATM (50 m)
Battery 10 month life (three 1 hour sessions per day)
Price $129.99


  • Robust construction
  • Suitable for swimming
  • Works with Garmin watches


  • Expensive
  • ANT+ only (no Bluetooth LE)

Suunto Smart Belt 9006 8

Handsome and small, the Suunto Smart Belt chest strap fits perfectly with Suunto AMBIT3 sports watch using Bluetooth 4 Smart LE.

The main feature of this chest heart rate monitor is that it does not show real-time information due to the lack of a display, but writes all data to memory. You can turn on the heart rate sensor on the strap using the app, accessible through your smartphone or Suunto AMBIT3 smart watch. Then you can go to train: run, swim, do fitness. Accurate data on heart rate and calories burned will be transferred to the MOVESCOUNT software for logging and subsequent analysis. You must also turn off the device through the software.

Since the heart rate monitor has Bluetooth technology, it will also work with many other fitness apps on iOS and Android.

Suunto Smart Belt is the smallest Bluetooth Smart compatible heart rate sensor on the market that measures your heart rate with greater comfort and accuracy.

Water resistance 3 ATM (30 m)
Battery $70


  • Compact, comfortable fit
  • Provides accurate data
  • Waterproof 9 0020
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android
  • Works with smartphone companion app

Cons :

  • Loses elasticity over time, resulting in poor skin contact, resulting in inaccurate data
  • Poorly designed and uncomfortable MOVESCOUNT 9 app0020

Polar h20

The Polar h20 chest strap heart rate monitor has built-in memory, storing one training session for up to 65 hours before syncing with your phone. The sensor is turned on using the application in the smartphone, and then at the end of the workout you can view your heart rate data.

Lack of a screen on the belt device does not allow real-time feedback. Therefore, you can use it with compatible Polar equipment for training equipment, as well as Polar smartwatches and cycling computers. h20 pairs with most modern smartphones (iOS, iPhone and Android) via Bluetooth and works with fitness apps.

The Polar h20 does not track sleep, activity or steps, but when paired with a Polar sports watch it will greatly improve your performance reading. And with the V800, you can get heart rate data while swimming.

The company is known for the good performance of its products, so the Polar chest heart rate monitor has an excellent reputation for reliability and accuracy and an honorable place in our rating.

Water resistant 3 ATM (30 m)
Battery replaceable (CR2025), 400 hours
Price $89


  • Comfortable to wear
  • Accurate heart rate readings
  • Good battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Works with 3rd party apps
  • Smartphone free
  • Transmits heart rate data to GoPro Hero 4 and 5 action cameras


  • Paid generic features in own app
  • Expensive

MyZone MZ-3

MZ chest strap -3 has a unique approach to using heart rate data. It uses heart rate to reward the user based on their individual effort levels. Essentially, you get points based on hitting different heart rate ranges. The number of points increases with your intensity.

The application has competitor statistics, where you can compare your points with friends and acquaintances. This playful approach can be applied to any exercise, whether you are a rower, runner or cyclist.

Turns on the tracker when it detects skin contact. There will be no problems with battery drain if you forget to turn off the heart rate monitor through the application in your smartphone, as in other chest straps. But there is a risk to start the heart rate monitor, holding it just in the palm of your hand. In this case, the device gives a characteristic sound signal when it is turned on and off to notify the user.

Because the MZ-3 tracks your heart rate and not your movements or steps, it can pretty much be applied to any sport – even swimming – as it’s waterproof to 5 ATM. The MZ-3 is ANT+ enabled, allowing it to work with third-party apps such as Strava or MapMyFitness, allowing them to stream heart rate data and GPS directions while running or cycling. There’s also a MyZone MZ-50 sports watch that can be paired with the strap to provide live stats during workouts.

If you’re looking for motivation as well as an accurate indication of how much effort you put in, we recommend the MyZone MZ-3. Efforts are rewarded. This makes the MyZone MZ-3 a solid choice for everyone from fitness beginners to pros.

Water resistance 5 ATM (50 m)
Battery $130


  • Competitive element of the MyZone platform motivates and stimulates
  • Accurate heart rate readings
  • Multi-sport versatility
  • Long battery life


9 0018

  • It is not always obvious that the tracker is switched on
  • May slip during swimming and intense workouts
  • Native app needs extra features
  • High price

  • Tips

    • Most heart rate monitors use rechargeable batteries. However, some use batteries the size of a watch battery, which sometimes need to be replaced.
    • Not all heart rate monitors are waterproof. If you want to swim with a chest strap, choose one that’s designed for in-water activities.
    • To clean the monitor screen and heart rate sensors, gently wipe them with a soft cloth. To get rid of tough stains, lightly dampen the cloth first.
    • Use warm soapy water to clean the belts. Air dry under the sun.

    Performance Comparison Chart

    Remember: If you have any concerns about your health or fitness level, please consult your physician. And it’s always a good idea to consult with a personal trainer when developing exercises and goals. Take care of yourself.

    • Was the information helpful?
    • YesNo

    An overview of 9 models of heart rate monitors and sports watches: which ones to choose and why

    There are a lot of running watches on the market now, but how do you choose one? What to look for?

    Proper running should be efficient, safe and fun. Someone gets this pleasure already from the process itself, while others are also interested in the results. To ensure that all three conditions are met, both will not be harmed at all by professional help in the form of a coach or special devices designed just for athletes. So how do you choose a sports watch?

    First, look for a watch with a heart rate monitor or the heart rate monitor itself. Proper work with heart rate zones is the key not only to a good result, but also to health and recovery.

    Secondly, the choice depends on your experience, level of training and requirements. If you are just starting to run without a coach, hours with training programs for distances from 5 km to marathon will be a great help.

    Third, consider where you most often run or plan to run, and consider your needs for GPS and maps.

    We advise you to choose from the products of three market leaders in sports watches – Garmin, Polar and Suunto. Of course, there are Apple Watch and other popular devices, but it is unlikely that their fans will need the advice from this article.

    We have selected 9 models for you that will definitely help you at one stage or another of your running training. Explore and choose.

    1. Polar h20 chest heart rate monitor

    Let’s start with the main basic assistant – a chest heart rate monitor. Proprietary heart rate sensors are produced by many companies today, but Polar is the first in 1979 patented, and 3 years later introduced a wireless wearable heart monitor, so we recommend her devices.

    Polar h20 is a worthy result of this 40-year expertise. The chest heart rate sensor is equipped with electrodes and changes the pulse according to the ECG principle, which ensures high measurement accuracy. Polar h20 does not need to be charged: the battery is replaceable and is designed for 400 hours of training. The device supports Bluetooth Low Energy technology and the Bluetooth Smart sensor can be synced with Polar devices and third-party apps to send data directly to them.

    Polar h20 comes standard with the Polar V800 smartwatch and provides orthostatic test accuracy. The heart rate monitor is perfect for swimming, as it is protected from moisture at a depth of up to 30 meters and supports data transmission at a frequency of 5 kHz.

    If you care about the accuracy of measuring the pulse up to a percentage, then we advise you to use the h20 – either paired with a watch or standalone. True, the memory is only enough for one training session, but synchronization is fast.

    Learn more about Polar h20.

    2. Shoulder-mounted heart rate monitor Polar Oh2

    A less canonical, but more comfortable to wear format is the shoulder-mounted heart rate monitor. Polar Oh2 is the first standalone heart rate sensor, which means that it can be both synchronized with a smartphone and used independently.

    Unlike the h20 and other chest heart rate monitors, the Oh2 uses an optical heart rate monitor, not an ECG. Thanks to this, it became possible to mount the sensor almost anywhere and not constantly check the fit of the electrodes. For girls, this is especially true: cardio tape under a sports bra or a competitive T-shirt can rub a lot.

    Of the minuses – unlike its predecessor, Oh2 does not support data transmission at a frequency of 5 kHz (Gymlink). But the internal memory of this sensor is 4 MB; this is enough for 200 training hours.

    The Polar Oh2 battery is rechargeable and lasts up to 12 hours on one charge. The sensor can be used in water. In general, a suitable option for those who like not only to run.

    Learn more about Polar Oh2.

    3. Polar V800 h20 smart watch

    If you want a serious running watch and an equally serious chest heart rate monitor, we recommend the Polar V800 as it’s a combination of a great watch and an h20, no compromises.

    The watch is impact-resistant and the glass is scratch-resistant – perhaps even more so than top-end Garmin premium sapphire displays. Yes, the V800 is inferior to other models (and even the younger M430) in terms of black and white screen resolution, but this is compensated by an excellent viewing angle and autonomy – the watch holds a charge for up to 30 days.

    Ideal for triathletes. Firstly, the watch is not afraid of water (neither open water nor the pool) and thanks to h20 it correctly displays the pulse. Secondly, the firmware allows you to combine several sports in one training session, changing modes at the touch of a button.

    Thanks to the built-in altimeter, you can also determine the ups and downs of the course. A return to the desired point function is available, which is useful in everyday life.

    In the Polar Flow app or desktop version, you can see your maximum pace, cadence and load level for each workout, as well as get motivating information about the effect of training. In addition, V800 owners have the opportunity to regularly test the content of Vo 2 max and orthostatic test.


    Polar V800 is for you if you are into cycling sports, especially running and triathlon, keep an eye on your aerobic threshold, calculate R-R intervals, and do some serious analytics on your workouts.

    Learn more about the Polar V800.

    4. Polar M430 sports watch

    Of course, it’s best to combine the watch and a full-fledged heart rate monitor, but the benefits of a built-in wrist heart rate monitor cannot be overestimated. If V800 is paired with h20, then in the case of M430 let’s remember Oh2.

    The devices use the same optical heart rate monitor, the most accurate in its class and developed by Polar. Heart rate tracking occurs 24/7. The model weighs only 51 grams, and the charge holds for about 10 days using GPS in training 2-3 times a week.

    The Polar Flow ecosystem supports approximately 100 sport profiles and includes training programs for 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon runs every day for 2-3 months.

    In the app, you can create your own training plan and track your progress using analytics and Running Index and Polar OwnIndex – indicators that reflect aerobic running efficiency and maximum oxygen consumption (VO₂max), respectively.

    Users have access to several GPS accuracy modes, interval training, as well as analytics for the duration and quality of sleep and planned recovery time after exercise.

    Polar M430 is a very worthy in terms of functionality, but affordable (especially compared to other models) for the price of a watch that is tailored specifically for runners.

    Learn more about the Polar M430.

    5. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

    Moving on to another Finnish company, Suunto. It has been producing fluid compasses, dive computers and sports watches for over 80 years. Alas, the legendary Ambit 3 was discontinued, but Suunto Spartan was launched.

    Suunto Spartan was the first line of the Finnish company with a color display, and Sport Wrist HR is the first model of this line with a built-in PerformTek optical heart rate sensor from American Valencell. They weigh 72 g, the display is touch, color and made of crystal glass

    What can this watch do? Suunto has its own Movescount ecosystem with over 80 sport modes (including multisport and triathlon) and display customization. The watch supports interval training and provides feedback on the results of the sessions.

    Includes GPS/GLONASS route and elevation navigation, built-in accelerometer and FusedSpeed™ technology. In the Sport Wrist HR training mode, they live up to 40 hours with energy saving.

    Runners will benefit from lap charts with heart rate, pace measurements, recovery predictions, personal bests, and planning with a coach. Bonus for girls: in addition to colorful models, there is a very beautiful one – Gold, in white with gold edging. This watch lasts 10 days in “time” mode and up to 12 hours with a working GPS module.

    Learn more about Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR.

    6. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro

    Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro is the best model of the Finnish brand: it is equipped with both an optical heart rate monitor and a barometric altimeter. In terms of their dimensions, the Baro are absolutely identical to the Sport Wrist HR, but they differ in design: there is a steel Stealth and an amber Amber. The model is almost indestructible: it can withstand immersion up to 100 m, it is protected from shock and damage.

    Sport Wrist HR Baro will last 10 hours in GPS tracking mode every second and 40 hours in power-saving mode when accessing satellites every minute. The watch is charged using a magnetic docking station – very convenient.

    The model is designed for outdoor sports and especially in the mountains, whether it’s running or climbing. Thanks to the built-in barometer Baro will warn the owner of changes in the weather, and will also report the exact time of sunset and sunrise. Route navigation, POI (Points of Interest) and ETA functions will also be useful – navigation to selected points with a calculation of the time of arrival. We especially note heat maps of routes in Suunto Movescount.

    Learn more about Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro.

    7. Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR

    Finally, the third model from Suunto, the lightest and smallest: it weighs 56-66 g and is 14.9 mm thick, so the Trainers look good and fit even on narrow wrists . There is, of course, the other side of the coin: the watch has lost a lot of autonomy, and you have to charge it every other day.

    Suunto may be inferior to Polar and Garmin models in terms of battery life, but they are superior in terms of display quality: resolution is 300 x 320 versus 240 x 240 at best. In addition, the Trainer model has more color options for every taste.

    In terms of functionality, this version is almost the same as the Sport Wrist HR: the same 80 sports profiles, customizable displays for runners, full-fledged GPS navigation and tracking. Is that the depth of immersion has become less – and, in fact, the operating time. As a result, we have a slightly less “long-playing”, but quite competitive model for less money.

    Learn more about Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR.

    8. Sports watch Garmin Forerunner 935

    Unlike Polar, Garmin has always specialized in working with GPS, which could not but affect the functionality of their devices. Garmin Forerunner 935 is practically an on-board computer that can be studied for several weeks. At the same time, the watch is light (49 g) and stylish, it looks good even under a suit.

    Without recharging, the watch lives up to 2 weeks, and is charged in just an hour and a half. With continuously working GPS, they will last for as long as 24 hours, and in economy mode – up to 50 hours.

    FR 935 equipped with Wi-Fi module and barometric altimeter. Optical heart rate monitor, heart rate is measured around the clock every 2 seconds, making it convenient to work with heart rate zones during training – the watch warns you when you leave the desired zone. The same data is used to calculate HRmax, HRR and recovery time.

    With Garmin Connect analytics, you can find out your lactate threshold, recommended exercise level, functional power threshold, and even competition performance predictions. There is an opportunity to train with a virtual “partner” or compare results with real people, as well as a paid option to contact a trainer.

    How to use the Garmin Forerunner 935 for marathon preparation and on the course, the participant of the Moscow Marathon 2017 wrote in his review.

    Run a sea of ​​possibilities – from customizing watch faces and widgets to measuring cadence and cadence. You can even control the music on your phone!

    More about Garmin Forerunner 935.

    9. Garmin Fenix ​​5 sports watch

    steel and sapphire crystal. They are like a luxury car: they can do a lot of things, are incredibly comfortable to use and will make a proper impression on business partners.

    We are, however, interested in their “professional” sports opportunities. This model differs little from the Forerunner 935 – except that the Fenix ​​​​5 has more functions for tourism. This Garmin model also supports ANT+ and allows you to connect third-party sensors. Both the Garmin Elevate optical heart rate monitor and GPS navigation work fine.

    Water resistant to 10 ATM so you can swim and dive. As for autonomy, there are 336 hours in Fenix ​​5 smartwatch mode, 24 hours with always-on GPS, and 75 hours in Ultratrack saving mode.

    If you train in the city, choose the base model Fenix ​​​​5, if you are outdoors, then topographic map support and the ability to plot a route in versions 5X and 5S will come in handy.