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Lee Reherman

Professional Fitness Expert

Best Heart Rate Monitors & Heart Rate Monitor Watch

Featured On:

  • American Gladiators
When I was a young pup, I used to giggle when I’d see all the old cougars running on the treadmill with all the “old cougar bling.” And despite the fact that “cougar” and “bling” weren’t actually part of our cultural parlance yet, I’ve borrowed it retroactively, as it helps paint the perfect visual when coupled with: the patella knee straps, the sun dial sized stop watch to a hundredth of a second on the left wrist, the wristband on the right wrist, and, of course, the always conspicuous heart rate monitor.

I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I’ll NEVER be that old and goofy lookin’!”

Well, many trips to the gym have come and gone, and in that time, several things have changed: Most of my joints are tight, and I actually creak a little until I’m really warmed up; all those tools that were “goofy lookin” then, are vital now; and the term “cougar” and “bling” DO exist, and are in fact, a 100% bulls eye accurate description of me, and the garbage bag full of “stuff” I now use to keep MY old engine runnin’! The purpose of this trip down memory lane was a long winded way to get to what is on top of that garbage bag full of “stuff”: the heart rate monitor!

The most effective “target heart rate” for training is between 75% and 80% of your maximum heart rate, and your maximum heart rate varies with age, though I’ll spare you that complicated calculation here. But the key point to remember is that this optimal range is very narrow, and thus, if you can get to it, and then once there, stay in it, the efficiency and effectiveness of your workout will improve dramatically.

There are three important criteria to consider when choosing a heart rate monitor:

1) Does it work? Though you may be saying, “duh!” Many products are manufactured so poorly, that on a sweaty, hot, bouncing body, the measurements are inaccurate.

2) Can I put it where I can easily read it?

3) Is it comfortable enough, or will it drive me nuts?

With the best heart rate monitors, you're sure to hit the zone and stay there. These heart rate monitor watch suggestions and other heart rate monitor recommendations are made durable for your workout.

Best Heart Rate Monitors by Lee Reherman

The Best You Can Get

  • Nike Triax Elite HRM-SDM Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: I’ve never been one to acknowledge “form” before “function,” so I’ll start by saying that the Nike Triax Elite is a top of the line heart rate monitor, but I must admit that the first thing that grabs your attention, is how COOL it looks! The sleek futuristic design would make James Bond proud! But fashion aside, you can’t go wrong with the quality and accuracy of the Nike Elite, and with the post workout download capability, you can set up, track, and review every imaginable cardiovascular experience you can think of.

    • Named Outside Magazine's Gear of the Year 2004 winner for Fitness Watches with accurate heart rate monitor, training plan, and place information, monitors your every step
    • Connects to computer to download workout data, and upload workout plans and watch settings, and pre-set alarms alert you when you are outside your target zones
    • Full featured training software helps you set goals, build training plans, log workouts, and analyze results and 100 lap memory provides lap time, split time, average pace, distance and average heart rate for each lap count
    • Data mode recalls timing/lap memory, average pace, and average heart rate for each saved run, and My View lets you customize the display to highlight pertinent information
  • The Polar RS800sd Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: Polar is the first name in Heart Rate Monitors, and in fact, part of the chore here was to decipher which Polar products should be on top of the list! The RS800SD is a “Best of the Best” by delivering all the Polar experience and technical know-how in Polar’s most versatile Heart Rate Monitor, that can be used across a wide range of workouts, sports, and activities. You can track every variable imaginable, and the “Polar Own” variable methodology is especially user friendly. Another helpful feature of the RS800SD is the flexible display that is easy to read and navigate.

    • Designed for the runner who requires the best in training technology, the heart rate monitor is a part of the world’s first integrated training system, and includes innovations such as OwnZone to determine personal heart rate limit
    • The OwnOptimizer enables you to test whether or not you have rested enough between exercise sessions, and operates with the new Polar S3 Foot POD
    • Quick change training zones, clearer identification of current HR intensity and improved crosstalk prevention to avoid unwanted interference
  • Suunto X6HR

    Lee says: Suunto’s specialty in the heart rate monitor game is accuracy in extreme conditions. Especially if you’re a skier, mountain climber, or desert distance runner, then the X6HR may be worth a look. Also, if your looking to crunch some numbers once you come down the mountain, then the Suunto Activity Manager that captures, maps, and analyzes training variables is the most robust software of its kind on the market. One especially novel feature of the X6HR worth mentioning is the ability to incorporate photos and text into training reports.

    • Provides you with tools for analyzing and improving your performance in your favorite endurance sport, as well as information enabling safe decisions in the wilderness
    • A combined heart rate monitor and altimeter that comes with the new Suunto transmitter belt, it is a perfect tool for endurance athletes who want to improve training
    • Records and stores data for later analysis, as you can view, compare, and analyze your performance with specially designed PC software
    • The technical features of the Wristop computer include an altimeter with measures: altitude, vertical speed, altitude alarm, asc/dsc alarm, log book with waypoint recording, altitude difference, and online cumulative ascent
  • Garmin Forerunner 305 Multisport Bundle

    Lee says: Everyone will know you’ve got a Forerunner 305 on your wrist, and in fact, the display is so big everyone will know what your heart rate is! So if visibility and/or vision are a workout concern, then the Garmin Multisport Bundle may be exactly what you’re looking for. With no calibration required for twelve data fields and three data screens, the 305 may be the most user friendly heart rate monitor on our list. Also, though I’m not a big user of GPS even in my car, if “low jacking” yourself is a feature you want for hiking or mountain climbing, then the 305’s GPS is as good as it gets.

    • Second to none heart rate monitor that also includes: GPS unit, speed and cadence sensor, wristband, PC USB interface cable, charger, CD-ROM, manual and quick-start guide
    • Includes quick-release bicycle mount for effortless transfer of the wrist unit to your bicycle, and the GSC 10 Speed and cadence sensor measures your pedaling strokes per minute providing valuable training information
    • Easy-to-use right out of the box, no pace-setting calibrations necessary, and the compact wristband monitor has an easy-to-read display
    • Wireless heart rate transmitting chest strap has a soft, comfortable strap that digitally transmits to the wrist unit and calculates calorie consumption based on user’s weight, distance traveled, and hills climbed
    • Pace alarm sounds if you’re running either faster or slower than your programmed pace, and time/distance alarm alerts when you’ve reached a desired time or distance
  • Timex 5F011 Ironman Triathalon BodyLink Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: Come on! You didn’t think your wrist would get out of this list without seeing a Timex, did ya?! The 5F011 brings Timex precision to a robust heart rate monitor that tracks the variables you want, on a display that is easy to read. The water resistant design is especially effective for sweaty workouts in warmer climates, or if you’re like me and sweat like a pig anywhere! One really interesting feature of the 5F011 is the digital FM transmission that is engineered to avoid interference from everything from power lines, to nearby exercise equipment, to other heart rate monitors!

    • BodyLink system provides continuous heart rate readings through comfortable adjustable elastic strap with 3-line display simultaneously showing heart rate, speed, and distance
    • Includes adjustable arm strap and belt clip, is water resistant to 50m, and includes replaceable batteries with long 2-year battery life
    • Synchronized digital FM transmission for clear signals around exercise equipment, power lines, and other heart rate monitors
    • Also tracks longitude, latitude, altitude, weighs only 2.7 oz, and works with highly accurate GPS satellite tracking system

You will be happy with any of these

  • Polar CS600 Cycling Computer Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: Because it is engineered for professional cycling, it may be a little too specialized for most mere mortals; but you could train in every sport, in every climate, over a lifetime and never find, much less use, all the features in the Polar CS600. The Polar name is synonymous with Heart Rate Monitors, and the CS600 is Polar’s top of the line in the category, with an onboard computer that can track and record every imaginable variable. As advertised, it is built for the speed rigors and “hands free” demands of cycling, and thus can easily withstand an environment where both feet are on the ground and both hands are more available.

    • The updated Power Output Sensor™ W.I.N.D is the market’s most complete system to plan, monitor, and analyze your training
    • Is a top-of-the-line computer with a professional-level heart rate monitor and new wireless Polar W.I.N.D. technology sensors
    • It is packed with new features, including an oversized 3-row LCD display that track Polar sport zones to help you to train at the right intensity
    • Has ZoneLock to set a target zone, and ZonePointer to help you stay in your target zone
  • SPO Check Mate II Oxygen Saturation and Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: It may not be the best looking “bell at the ball,” but SPO has taken its medical device expertise and built a product for athletes. The Check Mate isn’t for everyone, but especially if high altitudes and/or oxygen-deprived environments are your destination, then the Check Mate may be the product you are looking for. Many beginning hikers and mountain climbers sometimes get halfway up the mountain and confuse rapid heart rate with oxygen deprivation; thus, the blood oxygen saturation measurement capability of the Check Mate may be worth a look.

    • Check Mate™ answers climbers’ demand for a lightweight monitor to measure blood oxygen saturation and heart rate during high-altitude activities
    • Also of use to pilots while flying and athletes during mountaineering, high-altitude cycling, jogging, speed walking, and running
    • Measures blood oxygen saturation (%SpO2) and pulse rate in beats per minute; feedback may help to assess the level of hypoxia at high altitude
    • Backlight illumination automatically turns off after 10 seconds and battery indicator displays approximate power remaining in the battery
  • Mio’s Shape Select Heart Rate Watch

    Lee says: I’m not going to even begin to argue that I know one constructive thing about women’s fashion, but I will stand my turf when I say there is nothing sillier looking that a huge watch or heart rate contraption hanging off the wrist of petite female! It looks like a microwave albatross that was court ordered for shoplifting! Thus, if you’re a smaller lady, or if you are shopping for one, Mio has created the Shape Select Heart Rate Watch, for those less “meaty” wrists. The Heart Rate monitoring capability is roughly the same as the other Mio products, but the Shape Select is a sleeker more stylish version that is actually a pretty cool looking watch!

    • ECG accurate heart rate monitor without a chest strap that is specially designed for women and people with wrists sized 6-3/4 inches or smaller
    • While exercising, this watch provides helpful information to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals, including displaying your heart rate, personalized percentage of maximum heart rate, and the number of calories burned
    • Monitor your heart rate throughout the day and also track your calories consumed against a daily calorie target and monitor your daily calorie balance
  • Suunto T3C Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: Suunto hits our list again with the TC3, an economical and stylish Heart Rate monitor that may not match up to the higher-end Suunto X6HR if your loosing consciousness on the top of mount Everest, but the TC3 certainly gets the job done if your goals are only as lofty as putting in twenty miles of “road work” per week. Good looking enough to wear as a watch, and fully functional enough for just about any activity you can throw at it; if you are a weekend warrior, who might want to keep the watch on while having a beer after a run, then the TC3 may be just right.

    • Provides comprehensive heart rate monitoring while tracking speed and distance across a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, inline skating, and kayaking
    • Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes of all types and skill level, this advanced-function combo pack includes the Suunto T3 Wristop designed to track your training
    • It features accurate data collection during both indoor and outdoor workouts by measuring each stride with built-in acceleration sensors and speed limit alarms alert you if you’re going above or below your preset limits
    • Enables data download from the T3C as well as receiving heart rate data wirelessly from your HRM belt straight to your PC; this allows you or your coach to monitor your performance, in real time, on the PC screen
  • Garmin Forerunner 50 USB Heart Rate Monitor

    Lee says: Garmin’s Forerunner 50 may not have all the whistles and bells of the more pricey Garmin products, but if your not looking to break the bank, the Garmin 50 delivers an economy heart rate monitor that is accurate, and a sports watch that is stylish. The easy wireless download and Garmin online community feature, may make the Garmin 50 just the right compromise of economy and functionality.

    • Forerunner 50 Sports Watch is USB-equipped heart rate monitor and Garmin’s innovative ANT-plus wireless technology automatically transfers workouts to your computer
    • Fitness and exercise accessory also tracks speed and distance wirelessly and the versatile sports watch is usable for cycling (with optional speed/ cadence sensor) or for multi-sport workouts
    • No cables or hookups required, just stand within approx. 30 feet of your computer for auto-download and then analyze, categorize and share through our new online community

Related Articles

Choose the best heart rate monitors so you can easily find your perfect workout zone of 75% to 80%. Choose a heart rate monitor watch or other monitors that give you digital readings instantly. We suggest Polar heart rate monitors, Timex heart rate monitor choices and other recommendations that monitor your heart for the greatest success in your workout.