Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
charley
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:19 pm

Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by charley »

I'd like to get a simple heart rate monitor for use during exercise, which is most often stationary cycling. There are so many options, but I'm having a hard time figuring out if the features I'd like are available. I'd like to:

1. Follow heart rate zone workouts on a smart phone app. For an interval workout for instance, it would be nice to see actual HR, target HR, time left in the interval, and progress in workout (e.g. interval 3 of 6). Pre-programmed workouts would be great, but the ability to save a few workouts would suffice.

2. Keep costs low. I'd prefer avoiding monthly fees for a workout app and keeping the hardware costs within reason. Chest strap would be slightly preferable to a watch.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a device that meets these criteria? It looks like Garmin watches may do this, but will they display workout info on a smartphone or is it limited to the watch?
Geronkas
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:08 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Geronkas »

I own a Garmin Forerunner 245 watch. It has an in-built wrist heart rate monitor. I can view my workout stats on the watch. However, I downloaded the Garmin Connect app to my smartphone which allows me to view workout details on my phone. Wrist based heart rate technology is not the most accurate, so I bought a Polar HR10 chest heart rate monitor which interfaces seamlessly with my Garmin Forerunner 245 and the Garmin Connect app. I really enjoy the watch. The Garmin 245 meets all your requirements and it can be purchased for around $200-$240 if you catch a sale. And as mentioned earlier work out details and other health-related stats are easily visible on the watch and the Garmin Connect App on the smartphone. No subscription required.
Carson
Posts: 801
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 3:26 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Carson »

Geronkas wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:08 pm I bought a Polar HR10 chest heart rate monitor which interfaces seamlessly with my Garmin Forerunner 245 and the Garmin Connect app. I really enjoy the watch. The Garmin 245 meets all your requirements and it can be purchased for around $200-$240 if you catch a sale. And as mentioned earlier work out details and other health-related stats are easily visible on the watch and the Garmin Connect App on the smartphone. No subscription required.
You can just get the polar H10 chest monitor and use the Polar Flow app to receive HR data and record your workouts. This is especially if you don't need or want a wrist based device to wear at other times.

FWIW, after 1 year of very heavy use, I needed to replace the chest strap itself - I found my HR dropping out/readings weren't showing as responsive to intervals. New chest strap arrived this week and it solved all of my issues.
40-yo grateful to be learning here
frostyblue
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:34 am

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by frostyblue »

Looks like you have two sets of requests - (1) a good HR monitor, (2) an app that'll let you track HR zones, monitor your workouts, etc.

- I don't think you need an HR monitor that has a native app that'll measure all the things you'd like (although this would be convenient). My understanding is that most apps with fancier workout features will be able to access the readings from most HR monitors. So if you're having a hard time finding a one shot solution, I think you can break up your search into two pieces.

- I spent a fair amount of time earlier this year looking for a good HR monitor to track my runs and settled on the Wahoo Ticker (it's a chest strap). It was ~$50, much cheaper than better known brands like Polar or Garmin. Its worked well for me so far, about ~4 months in with daily, sweaty use. Regarding HR zones and what not, as long as you have an accurate reading of your HR, you can do this yourself without much hassle (this is what I do).

- As another poster mentioned, there are some complaints that the chest strap monitors start to fail about a year or so in - maybe due to constant sweat exposure. The chest straps are also more inconvenient vs. a wrist/watch tracker - if you're moving a lot (e.g. running) sometimes they can start to slip when you get sweaty enough.

- While chest straps are supposed to be more accurate vs. wrist trackers, if you're mostly just doing stationary cycling, you might be fine with a wrist device. My understanding is that the optical sensors on the wrist trackers are ok if you're not moving around too much (e.g. just sitting on a bike, walking, etc.) but struggle more when you move more (e.g. running). The other benefit of a wrist tracker is you can easily leave it on all day & night. You'll get a better sense of how your HR varies over the course of a day, and some other features like sleep quality, oxygen saturation, etc. (although the accuracy of the latter metrics is up for debate).
arf1410
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:55 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by arf1410 »

Geronkas wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:08 pm I own a Garmin Forerunner 245 watch. It has an in-built wrist heart rate monitor. I can view my workout stats on the watch. However, I downloaded the Garmin Connect app to my smartphone which allows me to view workout details on my phone. Wrist based heart rate technology is not the most accurate, so I bought a Polar HR10 chest heart rate monitor which interfaces seamlessly with my Garmin Forerunner 245 and the Garmin Connect app. I really enjoy the watch. The Garmin 245 meets all your requirements and it can be purchased for around $200-$240 if you catch a sale. And as mentioned earlier work out details and other health-related stats are easily visible on the watch and the Garmin Connect App on the smartphone. No subscription required.
I've also got the garmin 245. I find the wrist HRM decent when running, but on a bike less so, due to the positioning / bending of my wrist. Also, the wrist sensor does not react as quickly when doing interval training. However, not clear why you bought a Polar HRM (or just chest strap?). I've also got Garmin chest strap, that interfaces directly with the watch, that I use on occasion when I want accurate data.
Hoosier CPA
Posts: 326
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:43 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Hoosier CPA »

The polar chest straps are fairly cheap and accurate. I just bought another one to replace mine that is 10 years old. The old watch it worked with still works fine. I'm sure the apps work well too but I kind of prefer the watch for easy visability. The newer watches do a lot more but if that's all you need, you might look for one on ebay. There are quite a few older ones new in packaging still and they are cheap - you can probably find one for $50. My watch is a Polar RS200. Out of date for current tech standards but works great for the heart rate functions. I like it for the heart rate "zones."
livesoft
Posts: 80559
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by livesoft »

What do you mean by "see target HR"? I think you can readily and easily memorize the target heart rates that you desire. Then all you need to see is current heart rate which a Garmin watch and its phone app can do in real-time as well as store a chart for later viewing. There are many youtube videos that show how Garmin watches do all this. I use an old Garmin FR45S watch which can be found for under $150. No subscription or added fees. My wrists are small, so this small watch fits nicely. While I don't usually use a chest strap, the watch can pick up a chest strap signal if you would like to try that. It also has GPS (distance), pace, and cadence along with the ability to use Garmin cycling devices.

Here is Greg McMillan's HR zones video -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwjKeCq6UOI that you may have already watched, but I think would be helpful to watch again. Your "zones" will change as you become more fit ... up to a point.

For me, temperature is one of the most important things that affects my heart rate. Running in 85F temps is a whole different ball game than running in 55F temps.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
WildBill
Posts: 743
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:47 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by WildBill »

Howdy

Check out the Mio Slice. It is a good exercise monitor and the price is right, maybe $50 or less on Amazon. The phone app that it connects up with is good also. I have used one for about seven years. They usually need replacing yearly if they are used a lot, which I do.

Your requirements for being able to set target HRs is redundant, I think. You need to have an idea of your maximum heart rate, and then monitor HR real time as you exercise with thresholds in mind.

App will show you the workout history when you are done, and also PAI, a workout efficacy measurement developed in an extensive longitudinal study in Norway by the Norwegian National University. Pretty cool and useful for tracking workouts.

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 16610
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Sandtrap »

I use a Polar chest strap HR monitor.
Tried others and readings were not as consistent.
Here at Amazon, data:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07 ... UTF8&psc=1

j :D
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
quantAndHold
Posts: 7472
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by quantAndHold »

If you’re using it for biking, you probably want a chest strap. The watches, in particular the Garmins, will work, but something about holding the handlebars makes them not want to retrieve your heart rate accurately, at least until you’ve been at it long enough to sweat some. Apple watches seem to be better with bikes, so there’s that.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Kagord
Posts: 1139
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:28 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Kagord »

Another Polar owner here, mainly use to ensure my heartrate doesn't stay in the danger level for my age too long during intervals when pushing it. For me, the polar is the most consistent over watches and ear lobe things.

Not using it much anymore as I'm trying to get back to a normal weight and body fat, so exercising with less instensity lately.
livesoft
Posts: 80559
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by livesoft »

Kagord wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:47 am Another Polar owner here, mainly use to ensure my heartrate doesn't stay in the danger level for my age too long during intervals when pushing it.
"danger level" ??? I never heard of that. I read information where some runners can run a 10K at their max heart rate level for the entire run.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
mrb09
Posts: 466
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:02 am

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by mrb09 »

quantAndHold wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:43 am If you’re using it for biking, you probably want a chest strap. The watches, in particular the Garmins, will work, but something about holding the handlebars makes them not want to retrieve your heart rate accurately, at least until you’ve been at it long enough to sweat some. Apple watches seem to be better with bikes, so there’s that.
I use an HR monitor for my bicycling Zwift workouts when I'm trying to hit a target heart rate. My Apple Watch kinda works, but it doesn't sync with the Zwift app. So I use a Wahoo TICKR on my forearm, that seems to work and I can combine that with the power meter built into my trainer.

I don't use a hear rate monitor when I'm outdoor cycling.
Topic Author
charley
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:19 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by charley »

arf1410 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:17 pm
Geronkas wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:08 pm I own a Garmin Forerunner 245 watch. It has an in-built wrist heart rate monitor. I can view my workout stats on the watch. However, I downloaded the Garmin Connect app to my smartphone which allows me to view workout details on my phone. Wrist based heart rate technology is not the most accurate, so I bought a Polar HR10 chest heart rate monitor which interfaces seamlessly with my Garmin Forerunner 245 and the Garmin Connect app. I really enjoy the watch. The Garmin 245 meets all your requirements and it can be purchased for around $200-$240 if you catch a sale. And as mentioned earlier work out details and other health-related stats are easily visible on the watch and the Garmin Connect App on the smartphone. No subscription required.
I've also got the garmin 245. I find the wrist HRM decent when running, but on a bike less so, due to the positioning / bending of my wrist. Also, the wrist sensor does not react as quickly when doing interval training. However, not clear why you bought a Polar HRM (or just chest strap?). I've also got Garmin chest strap, that interfaces directly with the watch, that I use on occasion when I want accurate data.
Thanks for verifying that the Garmin watches are fit for purpose and that workouts can be followed on the app.
livesoft wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:25 pm What do you mean by "see target HR"? I think you can readily and easily memorize the target heart rates that you desire. Then all you need to see is current heart rate which a Garmin watch and its phone app can do in real-time as well as store a chart for later viewing. There are many youtube videos that show how Garmin watches do all this. I use an old Garmin FR45S watch which can be found for under $150. No subscription or added fees. My wrists are small, so this small watch fits nicely. While I don't usually use a chest strap, the watch can pick up a chest strap signal if you would like to try that. It also has GPS (distance), pace, and cadence along with the ability to use Garmin cycling devices.

Here is Greg McMillan's HR zones video -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwjKeCq6UOI that you may have already watched, but I think would be helpful to watch again. Your "zones" will change as you become more fit ... up to a point.

For me, temperature is one of the most important things that affects my heart rate. Running in 85F temps is a whole different ball game than running in 55F temps.
For "target HR" I mean the desired HR for an interval and the rest periods. This isn't critical as you note - I'd really just like a real-time measure of progress through the intervals with a readout of HR on the same screen. Thanks for the McMillan video - I haven't come across this yet.
Mr.BB
Posts: 2041
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 10:10 am

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Mr.BB »

Polar heart rate monitors with chest strap are the most accurate. I talk to one of their techs one time and he said they started making the wrist monitors as well only because it was just what the general public wanted but the watches with the chest straps are still the best.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
tm3
Posts: 505
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:16 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by tm3 »

Chest straps are more accurate than wrist monitors.

I've been using Polar brand for a long time and can recommend them. With rinsing out post workout, the elastic straps will last longer than if neglected but they still have to be replaced every few years.
livesoft
Posts: 80559
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by livesoft »

charley wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:00 am[...] Thanks for the McMillan video - I haven't come across this yet.
For me some of the most important info in that video starts at minute 18 where the "Limitations of HR Training" are discussed since I run in hot weather and the heat load on my body is a big deal. Also I get dehydrated and have cardiac drift which is easily seen when I use a HRM.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
quantAndHold
Posts: 7472
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by quantAndHold »

mrb09 wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 10:01 am
quantAndHold wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:43 am If you’re using it for biking, you probably want a chest strap. The watches, in particular the Garmins, will work, but something about holding the handlebars makes them not want to retrieve your heart rate accurately, at least until you’ve been at it long enough to sweat some. Apple watches seem to be better with bikes, so there’s that.
I use an HR monitor for my bicycling Zwift workouts when I'm trying to hit a target heart rate. My Apple Watch kinda works, but it doesn't sync with the Zwift app. So I use a Wahoo TICKR on my forearm, that seems to work and I can combine that with the power meter built into my trainer.

I don't use a hear rate monitor when I'm outdoor cycling.
Thanks for the reminder. I ride a bike for transportation, but don’t really do training on a bike, so I don’t really use a HRM on a bike anymore. But if I were doing serious HRT on a bike, I think I would have the Wahoo TICKR. I’ve never tried it, but it seems like a great product.

My needs are fairly basic at the moment, so I’m getting what I need from my Apple Watch. Including it letting me know about a cardiac problem before I was symptomatic. The doctors really, really wanted to convince me that the watch was lying to me, but to humor me they sent me off for some tests…and the watch was not lying.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
ExTx
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:40 am

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by ExTx »

I'm a 100 mile plus a month runner at 61. I've used a Garmin for years. I would never strap a HR monitor around my chest when running. Garmins work just fine. I've ran since cross country in H.S.
CuriousTacos
Posts: 257
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:31 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by CuriousTacos »

charley wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 8:42 pm I'd like to get a simple heart rate monitor for use during exercise, which is most often stationary cycling. There are so many options, but I'm having a hard time figuring out if the features I'd like are available. I'd like to:

1. Follow heart rate zone workouts on a smart phone app. For an interval workout for instance, it would be nice to see actual HR, target HR, time left in the interval, and progress in workout (e.g. interval 3 of 6). Pre-programmed workouts would be great, but the ability to save a few workouts would suffice.

2. Keep costs low. I'd prefer avoiding monthly fees for a workout app and keeping the hardware costs within reason. Chest strap would be slightly preferable to a watch.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a device that meets these criteria? It looks like Garmin watches may do this, but will they display workout info on a smartphone or is it limited to the watch?
As always on BH, feel free to ignore this unsolicited advice, but I have found that heart rate is not that great for anything other than easy workouts and maybe long moderately hard workouts. If I'm doing intervals, my heart rate will increase pretty rapidly for most of each interval, and it will be higher in each successive interval, so I would be guessing how hard to go most of the time. Even on longer tempo workouts, my heart rate will appear to stabilize after about 10min, but then it will gradually drift higher for the rest of the workout, and I wouldn't know what to do with that...gradually slow down? That's not what most people intend. This is all in addition to the glitches and spikes in heart rate readings due to poor contact on your skin, or the day-to-day variations due to temperature, caffeine, food, etc.

If your stationary bike can provide anything close to a reasonable estimate of power, I would rely on that instead. It will give you immediate information so you can do your target workout without having to account for all the variables affecting heart rate. If it doesn't, unfortunately power meters are pretty expensive, so hopefully heart rate will work well enough for your needs.
livesoft
Posts: 80559
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by livesoft »

CuriousTacos wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 4:57 pm[...] Even on longer tempo workouts, my heart rate will appear to stabilize after about 10min, but then it will gradually drift higher for the rest of the workout, and I wouldn't know what to do with that...gradually slow down?
Cardiac drift is a real phenomenon. I observe it all the time and attribute it to dehydration as i sweat so much. It has been helpful to consume a SaltStick capsule and hydrate adequately, but I have never been able to make it go away when running in the heat.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
User avatar
calmaniac
Posts: 825
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:32 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by calmaniac »

My Wahoo Kickr chest strap HRM communicates with my phone via Bluetooth, so it works with all Phone Apps.

I've used it for outdoor cycling 3-4 times a week, year round over the past 2-3 years with zero problems.
≈63yo. AA 70/30: 30% TSM, 16% value (VIOV/VFVA/AVUV), 16% foreign LC, 8%emerging, 30% GFund/VBTIX. Fed pensions now ≈60% of expenses. Taking SS @age 70--> pension+SS ≈100% of expenses. What me worry?
Topic Author
charley
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:19 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by charley »

Thanks for all the discussion. I didn't realize the differences between wrist and chest monitors, but as one poster said stationary cycling appears not to be an issue. A few youtube reviewers monitored wrist and chest HR side-by-side and noticed similar performance on a stationary bike (not so mountain biking).
calmaniac wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:16 pm

My Wahoo Kickr chest strap HRM communicates with my phone via Bluetooth, so it works with all Phone Apps.

I've used it for outdoor cycling 3-4 times a week, year round over the past 2-3 years with zero problems.
Do you have a favorite app?
User avatar
2pedals
Posts: 1600
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:31 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by 2pedals »

I like my Scosche Rhythm armband heart rate monitor. I find that it's very versable, can be more accurate than a wrist, and not as uncomfortable as a chest strap. It works with the Concept 2 rower, treadmill, stationary cycle, my bike computer, and my smartphone fitness app.
User avatar
calmaniac
Posts: 825
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:32 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by calmaniac »

charley wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:44 pm Do you have a favorite app?
I use the Garmin app, but I am road riding, so unclear how it works for indoor. Apple Health has an app, as does Wahoo. I rarely use them, so can’t comment there.

I bought a Scosche Rhythm and found it unsatisfactory. Too many clearly errant heart rate outputs.

I don’t find chest band heart rate monitors uncomfortable, but some do. YMMV.
≈63yo. AA 70/30: 30% TSM, 16% value (VIOV/VFVA/AVUV), 16% foreign LC, 8%emerging, 30% GFund/VBTIX. Fed pensions now ≈60% of expenses. Taking SS @age 70--> pension+SS ≈100% of expenses. What me worry?
sandan
Posts: 438
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:48 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by sandan »

A Coospo chest strap works well and costs less than $30. I use it with my phone, Garmin watch, or Garmin computer depending on the activity.

As others have suggested, do not assume a watch can be a substitute for a chest strap. I can't imagine ever doing heart rate targeted training without a chest strap. The watch only method is bound to have interruptions mid workout no matter the activity.
rockstar
Posts: 3280
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:51 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by rockstar »

I use either a Garmin Fenix or an Apple Watch. The tech is good enough these days to use to the HR from your wrist.
Tattarrattat
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:05 pm

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by Tattarrattat »

Runner and biker. Use Garmin, like it. While chest strap is the "gold standard" for monitoring, wrist monitoring these days is also very good and certainly adequate for the purposes of most amateur fitness pursuits. Personally, don't like chest strap feeling and would never use one. If you want deep details about heart rate monitors, can look up blog by DCRainmaker.
GaryA505
Posts: 1493
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:59 pm
Location: New Mexico

Re: Heart rate monitor recommendation for HR workouts

Post by GaryA505 »

I have used Wahoo and Polar chest straps for many years. I current use the Polar H10 chest monitor and he Polar Flow app. That's all you need.
Get most of it right and don't make any big mistakes. Other things being equal (or close enough), simpler is better.
Post Reply