10 Best Heart Rate Monitors | Top Chest Strap & Armband HR Monitors

Join us as we examine the best heart rate monitors currently available
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Heart rate can be an important and useful way for us to keep track of different aspects of our health, particularly when trying to make sure we reach our exercise goals. Maybe you’re trying to improve your body composition and are aiming to stay in your ideal “fat burning zone”. Perhaps you want to ensure you’re working out at your desired intensity level. Whatever your situation may be, if you’re striving to achieve your objectives, you’re going to need one of the best heart rate monitors.

Typically worn as a chest strap or armband, these devices are perfect for fitness tracking. However, each model varies, depending on the activities you’re going to use it for, your preferences, budget and more.

In modern-day society, it seems like everyone uses some kind of monitor to track themselves. However, the truth is that most of these often provide inaccurate results. This can make it confusing and difficult to reach your goals, stalling progress and frustrating you in the process. Ultimately, we want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of your heart rate monitor, so let’s take a look at the best.

Best Heart Rate Monitor At a Glance

Best Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

Often considered to be the best heart rate monitor for triathlons, the Garmin HRM-Tri has your back with everything regarding swimming, biking and running. The design is compact and lightweight, with a simple black-and-blue color scheme made to hold up to chlorine, water, and more. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, it offers some of the most accurate data, making it ideal for every experience level or type of athlete.

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Best Armband Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband

With seamless setup, a rechargeable battery and ANT+/Bluetooth compatibility, the Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband is one of the most convenient models out there. Through the pairing of a smartphone or tablet, you can use its personalized heart rate training workouts or connect to your bike’s computer. Doubling as a run tracker and counting reps as you lift weights, it’s perfect for the athlete looking for versatility and accuracy. On top of that, it is highly affordable.

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Best Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

Often considered to be the best heart rate monitor for triathlons, the Garmin HRM-Tri has your back with everything regarding swimming, biking and running. The design is compact and lightweight, with a simple black-and-blue color scheme made to hold up to chlorine, water, and more. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, it offers some of the most accurate data, making it ideal for every experience level or type of athlete.

Read the review

Check the current price

Best Armband Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband

With seamless setup, a rechargeable battery and ANT+/Bluetooth compatibility, the Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband is one of the most convenient models out there. Through the pairing of a smartphone or tablet, you can use its personalized heart rate training workouts or connect to your bike’s computer. Doubling as a run tracker and counting reps as you lift weights, it’s perfect for the athlete looking for versatility and accuracy. On top of that, it is highly affordable.

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The Best Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 400 hours
  • Type of battery: Replaceable
  • Cost: $$$

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Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to a year
  • Type of battery: Replaceable
  • Cost: $

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CooSpo Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 3 and a half years
  • Type of battery: User-replaceable
  • Cost: $$

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Garmin HRM-Dual
  • Battery life: Up to 10 months
  • Type of battery: User-replaceable
  • Cost: $$$

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Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 400 hours
  • Type of battery: Replaceable
  • Cost: $$$

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Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to a year
  • Type of battery: Replaceable
  • Cost: $

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CooSpo Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 3 and a half years
  • Type of battery: User-replaceable
  • Cost: $$

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Garmin HRM-Dual
  • Battery life: Up to 10 months
  • Type of battery: User-replaceable
  • Cost: $$$

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1. Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

From the thickness of the strap to the light weight of the entire unit, the Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor is made to be comfortable. This monitor also boasts supreme accuracy and efficiency.

As far as looks go, this monitor is sleek and elegant with an all-black, shiny strap and a small light blue/black pod. Made with rounded edges and no exposed seams, it’s superb for extended use, with minimal risk of chafing or causing discomfort. As a chest strap model, it’s nice and snug while allowing for just enough give that you can perform a full range of motion without feeling restricted.

Storing up to 20 hours of heart rate data, you can use this monitor for lengthier activities such as hikes or marathons! If you want to track heart rate while swimming, you can also choose to use it with compatible sports watches to keep the monitor out of the water. Coming with Garmin Connect, the brand’s free online community, you can create training plans, set goals, and connect with other users. During use while running, the HRM-Tri offers feedback on your running form and dynamics, measuring torso movement the entire time to boost your efficiency.

As you can see, this is one of the most comprehensive wearable heart rate monitors out there!

The Good

  • Sleek, compact design
  • Stores up to 20 hours of heart rate data
  • Connects with Garmin’s free online community
  • Comfortable and reliable
  • Offers running form/dynamics feedback

The Not So Good

  • Not made of the most durable materials

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2. Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar is one of the most popular brands in the sports equipment world, and their H10 Heart Rate Monitor shows exactly why. Made of high-end materials, offering the latest in technology and maintaining an affordable price, this model has become a crowd favorite over the years.

If you’re someone who prefers working out on machines, you’ll love the connectivity options the H10 offers such as Bluetooth, ANT+ and 5 kHz. This allows you to connect to various fitness apps, all HRM-compatible cardio equipment. It will also connect to iOS mobile devices and Androids with Bluetooth 4.0, enabling you to transfer data so you can easily keep track of your progress and goals.

Coming in 4 different colors, you can choose from either Black, Gray, Orange or Turquoise. Each one looks high-quality and the strap is nice and comfortable to wear around the chest. Due to improved electrodes and silicone dots, it’s one of the most accurate HRMs out there, no matter if you’re rowing, cycling or running.

The Good

  • Sleek, compact design
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Very comfortable and compact
  • Allows for versatile usage

The Not So Good

  • Only stores 1 heart rate training session at a time

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3. CooSpo Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor

If you’re looking for a device to accurately measure heart rate but are on a tight budget, then we have just the model for you: the CooSpo Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor. You really can’t get such good quality for such a low price anywhere else.

The smooth strap and white pod look basic and cool, maintaining an ultra-light weight to keep a secure fit. You can select from either a black, orange, blue or red strap – whichever suits you best. Made of a soft textile and high-quality electrodes, it’s surprisingly durable for the low price tag it sports.

In addition, you’ll find LED lights and voice notifications to stay updated on your device’s status. The LED light is blue when Bluetooth is connected, and green when disconnected. In addition, it supports ANT+, allowing you to connect to your smart device, cycling computer, tablet, laptop and more!

If that weren’t enough, the CooSpo HRM also includes a 2-year hassle-free warranty to ensure that you get a refund or replacement if for any reason you’re unsatisfied.

The Good

  • Sleek, compact design
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Very comfortable
  • Very affordable

The Not So Good

  • Technology is relatively basic

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4. Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor

Drawing many similarities to the Garmin HRM-Tri but at a notably lower price, the Wahoo Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor is great for those just starting out. Not only that, but if you’re a tech-savvy person who needs full connectivity, this may just be the one for you.

The Tickr X is known to be one of the easiest chest heart rate monitors to put on, coming with a unique snap design. As far as looks go, this monitor is basic and simple – no frills. It’s also sweatproof and waterproof up to 5 feet, so is suitable for exercises that involve a bit of water.

With the ability to capture both motion and intensity, it can measure your heart rate, calories burned, rep count, as well as provide feedback on running analytics. To easily keep track of your workout data, you can use the included Wahoo Fitness app and automatically load data to one of the over 50 training platforms of your preference.

Moreover, with Bluetooth and ANT+ integrated, connect to your smartphone, tablet, GPS watch or bike computer!

The Good

  • Sweatproof/waterproof up to 5 feet
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Secure, easy-to-use closure system
  • Very affordable

The Not So Good

  • Simple appearance

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5. Garmin HRM-Dual

Yet another excellent, budget-friendly option. This Garmin model is quite different from the first on our guide. It doesn’t connect directly to Garmin’s app nor does it come with many special features. However, it does what it’s supposed to: measure your heart rate – doing so in a comfortable and accurate way.

As one of the lightest HRMs out there, it stays nice and snug, but is never too tight. The strap itself is one of the softer ones out there, though there have been a few reports of it being slightly less durable than other leading devices. While it is sweatproof, if you ever do need to wash it you can simply remove the HR module and toss it in the washing machine!

We should mention that this device does have ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can still connect to other apps of your choosing. This allows you to seamlessly track your efforts and progress, making you more likely to achieve your goals and boost motivation.

The Good

  • Sweatproof/easy to wash
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Accurate tracking
  • Very affordable

The Not So Good

  • Not as visually attractive

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The Best Armband Heart Rate Monitors

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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CooSpo Optical Armband Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: N/A

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Scosche Rhythm24 – Waterproof Armband Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 35 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$$

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Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband
  • Battery life: Up to 30 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

Check current price

Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$

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CooSpo Optical Armband Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 20 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: N/A

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Scosche Rhythm24 – Waterproof Armband Heart Rate Monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 35 hours
  • Type of battery: Rechargeable
  • Cost: $$$

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1. Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband

When buying anything you plan on using regularly, you want to make sure it’s easy and comfortable to use. When it has to do with fitness products, this is doubly important. Rated as one of “Amazon’s Choice” products and used by some of the top athletes in the world, you can be assured the Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband is one of the best out there.

Made of a durable yet comfortable material, the band has just enough give to make it fit comfortably and securely while preventing you from over-tightening it. Adjust it to fit either your forearm or upper arm – whichever works best for you. The all-black design looks clean and minimal, going well with whatever workout gear you have on.

Offering personalized heart rate training, it tracks and transmits real-time heart rate, along with your training zones and calories burned which you can easily view on your smartphone or tablet. It also comes with Bluetooth and ANT+ technology, so you can also connect to GPS watches and an array of bike computers.

Overall, it’s a comfortable, accurate monitor with plenty of extra features!

The Good

  • User-friendly
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Accurate tracking
  • Durable

The Not So Good

  • Slight lag-time in response to changes in HR

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2. Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor

Another great Polar product, this time we bring you their OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor. The visually aesthetic band comes in either Gray, Black or Orange, offering you a bit of variety in design to pair with the rest of your gear.

While armbands are traditionally known to be less accurate than chest bands, this can hardly be said of the OH1+. As one of the easiest to take off and put on, you can choose to wear it either on your forearm or upper arm. It’s even easy to use in the pool, thanks to an included swimming goggle strap clip to use against your temple!

With the inclusion of Bluetooth and ANT+ technology, you can choose to stream your HR to sports watches, connect to bike computers and an array of compatible apps. However, if you choose to use it on its own, it’s more than capable of meeting your needs. In fact, it comes with a built-in memory for up to a whopping 200 hours of training! You can also opt to sync this data to the app of your choice for easy goal tracking.

The Good

  • User-friendly
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Easy to put on/take off
  • Comes with goggle clip for use in pool

The Not So Good

  • Apps don’t tell you how much battery time is left

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3. Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband

Aside from being quite possibly the coolest-looking armband around, the Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband offers reliable data and consistent comfort. The user-friendly device is not only sweatproof but also waterproof (up to 1m), making it great for swimming or training while wet.

Each device comes with two armbands, with colors varying from Green, Black, Blue, Gray, Pink and Red. You’ll get a small and a large band, along with a bonus color! Made of neoprene, it allows the skin to breathe and is one of the most comfortable out there.

Working with most popular health apps along with all Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ enabled devices/gear your possibilities are virtually endless.

In terms of accuracy, this model comes very close to chest straps, offering one of the most precise readings of armbands available at this price point. As far as battery life goes, the RHYTHM+ lasts up to 8 hours of workout time, which is more than enough for most.

The Good

  • User-friendly
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Easy to put on/take off
  • Visually attractive/comes with extra straps
  • Very accurate readings

The Not So Good

  • Doesn’t store data

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4. CooSpo Optical Armband Heart Rate Monitor

If you take a look at most heart rate monitor reviews, chances are you’re going to see the CooSpo Optical Armband Heart Rate Monitor on there. Featuring all the basics and coming with all necessary connectivity options, it’s definitely one of the most convenient and versatile.

Waterproof and sweatproof, you can rely on it to be incredibly accurate no matter what the weather conditions are like. While the thin device is a comfortable solution, there were a few reports of it coming loose at times when wet. However, placing it closer to the elbow has been known to remedy this issue.

ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities make it easy to pair with a variety of devices and apps so you can stream your workout stats in real-time. The easily accessible button on the strap controls pairing and operation so you can get going right away without having to read a manual first.

Finally, the rechargeable battery lets you workout up to 20 continuous hours, with an LED light alerting you to your device’s status.

The Good

  • Soft band
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Easy to put on/take off
  • Rechargeable up to 20 hours at a time
  • Very accurate readings

The Not So Good

  • Strap occasionally slips a bit when wet

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5. Scosche Rhythm24 – Waterproof Armband Heart Rate Monitor

There’s no doubt that the Scosche Rhythm24 is one of the most fully featured armband heart rate monitors currently available on the market today. Using yellow and green optical sensors, it’s highly accurate on all skin tones and has appeal for athletes of a wide variety of sports.

As it’s IP68 waterproof certified, you can take it with you in the pool and still measure your heart rate, which is something few other HR monitors offer at this price.

The design isn’t anything special visually speaking, though the bands are interchangeable and you can opt for a more interesting color other than black if you’d prefer. Change heart rate zones and modes in the RhythmSync app, such as Running, Cycling, Swimming, and more, ensuring correct data monitoring no matter what exercise you’re doing. With onboard recording, you don’t even have to use your smart device to record workouts and/or upload data. However, if you would like to, it’s compatible with all kinds of iPhone and Android apps, bike computers, fitness equipment and more.

Last but not least, the rechargeable battery lets you use it for up to 24 hours continuously, which is quite lengthy in comparison to similar models.

The Good

  • Can be used up to 24 hours continuously
  • Connects with wide array of devices/apps
  • Extremely accurate
  • Interchangeable straps
  • Array of different operation modes to choose from

The Not So Good

  • Not that visually attractive

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Should You Get a Heart Rate Monitor?

Heart rate is the most commonly used metric to prescribe physical activity. It’s used by doctors and medical experts to help people returning from illness or injury. It’s also used coaches and trainers to help athletes continue to improve aerobic capacity, which is crucial for almost all professional sports.

That’s because heart rate is a direct indicator of how hard your body is working during exercise.

The average person can use heart rate monitors in much the same way, especially if they’re aiming to improve their cardio fitness or lose weight. Tracking your heart rate while you workout will let you know if you need to up the intensity, or if you’re at a high enough level to achieve the outcomes you’re after.

Here’s a useful article by Polar that’ll help you identify the heart rate zones you might want to get into for different purposes and at different points in your workout.

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Choosing the Right Heart Rate Monitor

The best heart rate monitor for you will depend entirely on what you’re planning to use it for, and what design most appeals to you:

Heart Rate Monitors for Running & Cycling

These devices should ideally offer feedback on your running and stride, so you can see where you can improve your technique and efficiency. They should also be able to connect to your bike’s computer in order to record and display the most useful data.

Heart Rate Monitors for Swimming

These must be waterproof, obviously so they can be worn in the water. Alternatively, you could choose a model which comes with a goggle clip or the like so you can still use it without bringing your actual HR monitor inside the pool with you. Moreover, you want these to firmly stay in place, even when wet. They shouldn’t come loose and should be able to move with your body without restriction.

Budget Heart Rate Monitors

No matter what your budget is, we have a monitor on our guide that will suit you. However, we’d like to remind you that not all budget models on the market today are made of quality materials and could break down rather quickly when subjected to moisture and chlorine. They may also be less accurate than premium models, which ultimately defeats the purpose of having one in the first place.

This is why it’s so important to be selective. As with most products, you often get what you pay for. That said, our budget recommendations are made to hold up to regular use and the elements they may face, but. They may be inexpensive, but they’ve been tested time and time again and come back with positive reviews.

Chest Straps Heart Rate Monitors:

These are worn around the chest, with the sensor unit usually placed right in the center. This makes it easy for it to deliver data with incredible precision and transmit them to your smart device for easy reading. These are ideal for cycling.

Armband Heart Rate Monitors:

These are placed on either the upper forearm or upper arm and use green (and occasionally yellow) LEDs to track pulse rate, measuring the blood which flows through your arm. These vary in accuracy, so it’s important that you select a high-quality model. These are great for lifting weights as they often measure reps, as well as running.

Wrist Worn Heart Rate Monitors

These may be more convenient and less cumbersome than other models. However, they’re also known to be less accurate than armbands and chest straps due to the HR tracking technology they use (a href=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19848857″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>photoplethysmography vs electrocardiography; more on that later). Additionally, the more intense the activity is that you’re participating in, the less accurate they tend to be due to the more vigorous movement interfering with measurement . While they may be okay if you’re casually looking to track your steps or want a general idea about certain aspects of heart rate, they’re not made for serious athletes or those who want real data to rely on.

In addition, you’ll need to understand what technology they use to collect and transmit fitness tracking data (their connectivity). Similarly, different kinds of HR monitors, using different kinds of technology, which affects their accuracy.

Connectivity

HRMs often have the ability to connect to outside devices, bike computers and more. Bluetooth and ANT+ are generally the most common connectivity options.

ANT+ is a low-power wireless technology that was developed by Garmin, was the technology of choice for almost all sports and fitness activity trackers, and is still used in most heart rate monitors worth purchasing. However, the technology has lost its stranglehold on the market as Bluetooth has grown.

Bluetoothis another wireless connectivity technology which has various innovations, such as Bluetooth Low Energy, making it more power efficient. Bluetooth is far more ubiquitous than ANT+, and thus works with a larger range of devices. Bluetooth is, however, less stable than ANT+ and is more prone to dropping out, which decreases the integrity of your tracking data.

Accuracy

Accuracy is one of the most important features, as wrong readings can make it harder to reach goals and track your fitness progress. The accuracy of your HR monitor will generally come down to the quality of the components and the technology it uses to get HR readings.

Electrocardiography (ECG) is used by most chest strap heart rate monitors, and takes HR readings by measuring the electrical activity via conductance from your skin. It requires being close to the source of the electrical activity, i.e., your heart, which is why this technology is not used in most armband HR monitors, or any wrist-worn monitors.

Instead, armbands and watches use a newer technology called photoplethysmography (PPG), which uses light emitted by diodes to read the blood flow through your blood vessels, and determine heart rate based on this. This tech has advanced considerably in recent years, and is now almost as accurate as ECG.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Rate Monitors

Check out our evidence-based answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about HR monitors of all types

What is the most accurate heart rate monitor?

The Polar H10 is often considered to be the most accurate out there, though the Garmin-HRM Tri is also up there. Both of these use ECG technology, and transmit data via ANT+ (as well as bluetooth), meaning the readings are most accurate and there’s less data loss.

Are FitBit heart rate monitors accurate?

Yes, the newer models are, due to the advancements in PPG technology. That said, like most other fitness trackers, they tend to underestimate heart rate, and become less accurate in their readings as exercise intensity increases.

What are the different ways of monitoring your heart rate?

You can use the “old-school” way by taking your fingers and placing them on pulse points on your neck or wrist, measuring for 15 seconds, and then multiplying your reading by four. A more effective way would be to use a heart rate tracker. As mentioned, trackers that use ECG technology are going to be more accurate than PPG-based trackers, but both will give you a relatively good indication of your heart rate.

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Well, there you have it: The Best Heart Rate Monitors.

We’re dedicated to delivering the best selections around, which is why we’ve dug so deep into consumer reviews, taking all aspects of these monitors into consideration. No matter what your budget is, we’re confident we have the right heart rate monitor for you.

You can count on these heart rate monitors to measure your heart rate in an accurate and convenient manner, ensuring you reach your fitness/athletic goals. Now, all you need to do is pick one and get started on your fitness journey!

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