best heart rate monitors

Heart Rate Monitor: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

Welcome to our big heart rate monitor test. Here we present you all heart rate monitors that we have tested. We have compiled detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best heart rate monitor for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will find important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a heart rate monitor.

  • With the help of a heart rate monitor it is possible to measure your heart rate. This allows you to make your training more efficient and protects your body from overload.
  • Sports watches with a chest strap measure your training pulse using electrode surfaces that are incorporated into the pulse band. The determination without a heart rate belt takes place in different ways, whereby the LED measurement is currently the best.
  • Depending on the sport and training level, the heart rate monitors are better or worse. Heart rate measurement with a belt is suitable for almost every sport and also provides reliable results.

Best Heart Rate Monitors

We have put together a selection for you from the large number of pulse monitors available. We want to help you to find the right product for you:

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Questions to consider before buying a heart rate monitor

Why should you buy a heart rate monitor?

Regardless of whether you are a recreational athlete or whether you take part in official competitions, a heart rate monitor is always useful.

Especially professional triathletes and advanced amateurs in this sport can no longer imagine training without a sports watch. To work out effectively, you should stay in the correct heart rate zones.

You should have your individually correct heart rate determined in a stress test at the beginning. Different values are determined here: from the resting heart rate to the correct training heart rate to the maximum heart rate. You will only get better, faster, stronger if you train in the correct pulse zone.

For example, if you are a runner and you always run with a heart rate that is too high, your performance will not improve. On the contrary, you harm your body and do not achieve any success. With a heart rate monitor, you can permanently increase your performance, and you have more fun because you reach your goals step by step.

The first precise records of the pulse rate exist from this time. The normal resting heart rate for an adult is 50 to 100 beats per minute.

Buying a fitness watch is worthwhile for both beginners and advanced users. If you are untrained, you will get a better body feeling faster with the help of a heart rate monitor. If you are a hobby athlete who likes to exercise regularly, you will successfully increase your performance with a heart rate monitor.

With their pulse-controlled training, heart rate monitors are particularly suitable for building up power reserves and for burning body fat.

Which sports is suitable for a heart rate monitor?

Heart rate monitors are generally used in endurance sports. The use of watches that measure your heart rate would not make sense in strength training because other values are important in this sport.

A wristwatch with heart rate measurement is particularly suitable for very active sports. There is no special sport here because you can use a heart rate monitor in many ways. It is well known that running and cycling are among the most popular training programs. Running in particular is uncomplicated because you can do it almost anywhere, anytime.

Sports watches are a must-have in multisport, such as triathlon. Just as watches are offered specifically for running, there are also models that are best suited for triathletes.

What are the advantages if you train with a sports watch?

The most important advantage of exercising with a heart rate monitor is that you benefit from the physical activity instead of suffering from it or harming your body.

You will optimize your training with it and you will gradually become more efficient. Without a heart rate monitor, it can overload your body and, in the worst case, result in physical impairment.

If you want to lose weight, you have to burn fat. But you only do this in the correct pulse range. With this goal in mind, you should buy a fitness watch.

How much does a heart rate monitor cost?

The prices for heart rate monitors are far apart. There are almost no limits to the top as it depends on several factors.

The decision is yours.

Are you a beginner and not yet that experienced or do you already count yourself among the professionals? Are you a recreational athlete or is the next triathlon already waiting for you? Are you a technology grumpy or do you spend hours on your training watch and its evaluations, programs, statistics?

This may not give you the information you wanted, but since the offer is very large, there are some questions that you should clarify in advance.

Where do you buy a heart rate monitor?

Price or guarantee? What is more important to you?

Are you unsure and would you like some advice for your pulse monitor? Then you are definitely in the right place in a sports shop. You have a wide range of different manufacturers and can list advantages and disadvantages for each device. You also get a guarantee – what more could you want.

As you probably know, you can also buy your heart rate monitor online. Either directly on the manufacturer’s website or in the sports shop’s online shop. You won’t get any personal advice here, but you will still get plenty of information about the desired product.

But if you’re not a fan of warranties and insurance because you just trust them, you could go looking for a used sports watch. There are also numerous websites that compare products and offer them cheaper.

What are the basic functions of a fitness watch?

As you can already read from the name, the most important functions of a heart rate monitor are:

  • Time
  • Heart rate
  • Training time
  • Stopwatch

There are of course deviations depending on the manufacturer and model. The following applies: the more functions, the more expensive the device becomes. Are you a runner who enjoys running in your spare time? Then the basic functions are usually sufficient.

Athletes who take part in competitions or pursue a specific sporting goal want various additional functions. These can have values like

  • Speed
  • Interval
  • Calorie consumption

and of course display and evaluate even more values. You can find out more about the additional functions below in the article.

What alternatives are there to the heart rate monitor?

As an alternative to training watches, fitness bracelets and smartwatches are very popular. You also wear these devices on your wrist. The difference is that you not only wear them during training, but they are with you throughout the day.

The same applies here as with the heart rate monitors, depending on the manufacturer and price category, there are different basic functions. The function of the step counter is now the basis of these gadgets. Other provisions such as heart rate measurement or calorie consumption are often standard with such fitness equipment.

You can connect the fitness armbands or trackers and smartwatches with your smartphone and a corresponding app. This makes it possible to also incorporate nutrition. The difference between watches and the activity trackers is not a big one.

The watches are so-called “all-rounders”. They save even more of your data. With the smartwatch you can check your daily fitness as well as call friends and contact them by message or email.

A fitness bracelet should motivate you to do more sport and is probably not relevant for sports enthusiasts. Sports lovers are more likely to get their money’s worth with a sports watch. But if you want to decide between a fitness bracelet and a smartwatch, there are mainly two mundane questions:

  • Do you want your gadget with a day or a week of battery life?
  • Doesn’t money matter to you or are you looking for the cheapest offer?

It must be said that the range of smart functions is highly price-dependent. The cheaper the product, the fewer smart functions and fitness functions are available.

Before buying, please inquire exactly which functions you would like to have and which functions your selected product has.

What types of heart rate monitors are there and which one is right for you?

Here you can get help in deciding which is the right training watch for you. First of all, it is important that you have to decide between

  • a heart rate monitor with chest strap or
  • a heart rate monitor without a chest strap

Therefore, you will find a brief summary of the advantages and disadvantages of both variants here.

Heart rate monitor with a chest strap: advantages & disadvantages

In fitness watches with a strap, electrodes are integrated in the strap. The heart rate belt is put on before the sporting activity. You have to make sure that these contacts are directly under the chest with the entire surface on the skin. This way you get precise results and wearing the chest strap is much more comfortable.

The signal transmission works as follows: Sensors are attached to the chest strap. They send the information they have received from the electrode surfaces directly (usually via Bluetooth) to the heart rate monitor.

If you use a fitness watch with a heart rate belt, you will get very precise measurement results because the electrodes are placed directly in the chest area. This is especially important for athletes who train for a specific goal.

Due to the good fit of the chest strap, you can use the combination of sports watch and strap for a wide variety of sports. That is why it is particularly suitable for very active sports such as running training.

The evaluations after the training are much more detailed with the pulse band, i.e. without a chest strap. In addition, these models are currently much cheaper than the newly released heart rate monitors that you can use without a chest strap.

One possible disadvantage of using a pulse band is that it can cause reddening of the skin. These can occur due to the friction that occurs during exercise. But if you put the strap on carefully, it shouldn’t.

Few people have complained that using a chest strap is not hygienic due to sweating. You will certainly not have any problems with this if you clean your equipment well after you have used it.

Should you ever train with your friends in a larger group, it could be that the sensor on the chest strap is being disturbed by other devices or Bluetooth connections. If so, the displays and results would be erroneous and inaccurate.

But according to the recommendations of manufacturers and professional athletes, you should always tailor your product to yourself at the beginning. This problem cannot even arise if you code your sports watch to your individual values ​​right from the start.

Heart rate monitor without a chest strap: advantages & disadvantages

Basically, a distinction can be made between three detection methods:

Pulse measurement using:

  • Finger sensor
  • Gloves with an integrated finger sensor
  • LED

The pulse determination using a finger sensor has meanwhile become unpopular. One reason for this is that it determines the heart rate very imprecisely. The other cause is that it cannot provide a continuous evaluation. This method only measures your training heart rate when you place your finger directly on the sensor.

In order to achieve a permanent heart rate measurement, the finger knife was further developed into a glove. This means that the manufacturers have integrated the finger sensor into the gloves. The heart rate can thus be continuously determined. However, many athletes have complained that wearing gloves is uncomfortable and unsanitary.

The latest, but also the most expensive, method for measuring heart rates works by means of LEDs – also known as optical heart rate measurement. Light rays flow through the blood vessels on the wrist. The changed blood circulation is measured by the light. Thanks to constant further development, the measurement accuracy has now increased to over 90 percent.

Many active athletes see the greatest advantage in using the sports watch without the annoying chest strap. In addition, you only need one device and save yourself additional equipment. Or maybe you’re a technology freak and enjoy the latest and most modern heart rate monitor technology.

Operating the heart rate monitor without a band is straightforward and practical. You grab your workout clothes and sports watch and you’re ready. Without having to look for your heart rate belt, plug in the sensors and connect your watch to it. There are also benefits after training. You just take off your fitness watch. Instead of having to remove and clean the additional equipment again.

Of course, there are also disadvantages to using a heart rate monitor without a chest strap. The determination of the heart rate are not as accurate as with a belt. The fitness watches must be worn tightly to avoid interruptions and disruptions. If you have tattoos on your wrist, it is possible that the heart rate measurement is not accurate here either.

The excessive prices are currently also disadvantageous. In addition, the variety of offers is still very limited because this technology has not been on the market for long. But experts are constantly working on the further development of the technologies, which means that the difference between heart rate monitors with and without a chest strap is becoming ever smaller.

Heart rate monitors with a chest strap are the most common form of heart rate monitors and provide particularly accurate data for recording the heart rate.

Purchase criteria: Use these factors to compare heart rate monitors

Here you can get valuable information that can make your purchase decision a little easier. So that you get an overview of the purchase criteria, we have put together a list of the most important features here:

  • Usage
  • Type of heart rate measurement
  • Functions
  • Operation
  • Design
  • Fit
  • Price

Not all characteristics are equally important to everyone. Therefore, the individual characteristics are explained in more detail in the following section. So you can jump to the paragraphs that are relevant to you.

Usage

In any case, you have to be clear about the area in which you want to use your heart rate monitor. If you are not yet that experienced in sports, you will definitely not have as high demands as a professional.

There is a great training watch that suits every type of athlete. The use of watches with heart rate determination can be divided into three broad areas:

  • Lifestyle
  • Hobby
  • Professional sport

In the lifestyle area you will find more beginners and not quite as active. Do you want to be active in sports? Do you want to get fit for the summer again? Do you need some motivation?

Then you are in the right place in the lifestyle area. Sports watches with smart functions are suitable for you. They’ll let you know when it’s time for exercise and fresh air again. It is not so important for you to find all functions in your heart rate monitor.

The focus here is on the balance between strength and endurance training. Take a look at the functions of the heart rate monitors that are most important to you and step by step you will be fit for the summer season. The right heart rate plays a bigger role for recreational athletes. This includes amateurs who have been active in sports for a longer period of time.

If you count yourself among the amateur athletes, you may have set yourself a training goal that you would like to achieve. Buying a heart rate monitor is definitely worth it. Only with adequate training in the optimal heart rate zone will you be able to achieve healthy success.

Professionals and athletes on their way to professional sport know what they want and need. If you were to join this group, you know that precise data and evaluations are a must for you.

Fitness watches that are designed for multisport are definitely suitable for you. Interval training is essential to permanently increase your performance and to prepare you perfectly for the next competition.

The multisport watches have proven themselves for triathletes because they can even recognize the different swimming styles during training, for example.

The type of pulse measurement

Before buying a watch, you basically have to choose between

  • a heart rate monitor with chest strap or
  • a heart rate monitor without a chest strap

Experienced people still rely on sports watches with a pulse band. With this survey method, an accurate and permanent determination of the heart rate is ensured.

But most of the new models that are currently on the market can be used without a heart rate belt. They are very popular because you don’t need any additional equipment, just put on your watch and start training immediately.

For fitness watches without additional sensors and belts, you can choose between three variants. Heart rate measurement using:

  • Finger sensor
  • Glove with integrated finger sensor
  • LED

The most important distinguishing features between the three measurement methods are briefly summarized below.

With a heart rate monitor with a finger sensor, you will not receive a permanent record of your heart rate. You can find out your pulse by placing one of your fingers on the watch’s sensor.

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The biggest disadvantage of sensors that are integrated in gloves is that you break a sweat on hot summer days. It’s also uncomfortable and you should clean your gloves well after every sporting activity.

With the further development of the finger measurement to the integrated sensor in the gloves, a big advantage has also arisen. Permanent pulse measurement is now possible without a chest strap.

The latest technology for determining the optimal pulse range without a pulse band works with the help of LEDs. The biggest advantage with these models is the luxury of doing without a chest strap. A significant disadvantage is the imprecise determination of the heart rate.

Functions

Different functions of the clocks are necessary depending on the intended use. As the name suggests, the heart rate monitor is primarily a device that shows you the time and your training heart rate.

Today, however, numerous sports watches are already equipped with more extensive basic functions. For example, the following features are often standard:

  • Date display
  • Weekday display
  • Alarm
  • Stopwatch
  • Waterproof
  • Range finder
  • Pedometer

Other functions like:

  • GPS
  • Calorie consumption
  • Interval training
  • Activity log
  • Signal when leaving the ideal pulse range
  • Speedometer
  • Sleep duration and quality

then belong to the additional features of a fitness watch.

For the first sports watch it makes little sense to buy the best-equipped and most expensive watch. In this case, it would be more important to take a performance test first.

You will find out your ideal heart rate zones in which you can complete an effective training. You should know your minimum and maximum heart rate well to protect your body.

For advanced users who pay attention to the price-performance ratio, it is certainly not that easy to find the right training watch. There are several manufacturers who ensure a wide variety of offers. However, you don’t get the same product features for the same price from every manufacturer. It’s worth comparing!

Operation

This point is primarily about technology and operation. The more expensive watches with heart rate measurement usually have many different functions. Therefore, using these heart rate monitors is a bit more complicated. This is simply because there are more functions and settings on the few buttons.

If you are an athlete who likes to deal with the latest technologies, you will have more fun with a more complex and extensive sports watch. If you are not so concerned with technology, a simple fitness watch limited to your most important functions is definitely the better choice. Also consider the options for evaluating your results here.

Think about whether it is enough if the heart rate monitor shows you your correct pulse zone during training, or do you want to analyze your data more precisely on your smartphone or PC? Depending on the situation, you limit yourself when choosing the right product.

Design

The design is a very individual decision factor. Manufacturers often also offer gender-specific watch models. Heart rate monitors for women can often be recognized by their smaller size and softer colors. However, not every woman dreams of a small, pink heart rate monitor.

Other factors such as: the material of the case and bracelet, color and size play an important role in the selection.

With regard to the design, it is difficult to give tips as these are subjective decisions. It is well known that tastes are different.

Fit

The fit is certainly also a fundamental factor that speaks either for or against a watch. With sports watches in particular, it is even more important that the watch sits perfectly on your wrist. When you do sport, you are very physically active, so your watch should definitely be snug enough. If it is too big for you, friction occurs and this in turn leads to discomfort.

So take your time when buying your heart rate monitor and try on different models to be sure that you do not have to accept any loss of comfort. A very important factor is the skin-friendliness of the material.

Price

Depending on how much money you have and how much money you have, you will look around in different price categories. Clear. Of course, you can spend a lot of money on your future sports watch. However, the purchase of a watch with heart rate monitoring should not be a financial ruin for you.

Be aware of what you really want and, above all, which functions are really important to you. Some manufacturers now do without too many and unnecessary additional functions.

Thus, the watch is not only cheaper, but also easier to use. Experiences from other athletes and comparison tables will definitely help you with this decision.

Frequently Asked Questions: Heart Rate Monitors

What additional functions has a sports watch?

This question is not easy to answer. One cannot generalize what functions a training watch has or does not have. The most popular additional functions include the following:

  • GPS
  • Altimeter
  • Signal tone or vibration in the event of under- or overloading
  • Distance
  • Calorie consumption
  • Training type

There are also training-independent functions such as:

  • Alarm clock
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Compass
  • Calendar
  • Weather
  • Music player

and much, much more…

The more features a heart rate monitor has, the more expensive it becomes. With the high-quality sports watches, almost no customer wishes remain unfulfilled. Especially with a combination of evaluation systems on the computer or apps on the smartphone, you can read out a lot of information from the collected data.

Can I connect the heart rate monitor to my smartphone?

Yes, you can connect your sports watch to your mobile phone. At least that’s true for a large number of heart rate monitors. The connection of watches with other technical devices such as PC, laptop and smartphones has become a particularly important topic.

Athletes need these values to see whether their performance has deteriorated, remained the same or, in the best case, has increased. With the connection to the phone, you can access your results even faster.

Whether it is possible to pair the training watch with the mobile phone depends on the manufacturer and the watch model. Numerous alternative gadgets such as fitness armbands, fitness trackers or smartwatches can also be linked to the smartphone. Some people use the cell phone as an activity tracker by itself.

If your smartphone has a low-power connection such as Bluetooth 4.0 is equipped, the purchase of such a heart rate monitor is even more worthwhile.

Can I lose weight more easily with the help of a heart rate monitor?

With the correct use of the gadgets, you will definitely lose weight. However, buying a fitness watch is not enough to lose weight healthily. The best thing to do is to contact a nutritionist and / or training coach.

In general, if you train in the correct heart rate range, you will burn fat.

If you are a beginner and want to buy a sports watch, we recommend that you take a performance test beforehand. So you can find out which heart rate range is the best for you This is the only way you can burn fat and lose weight more easily.

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