Best Heart Rate Monitors iMore 2021
Some great benefits come with wearing a heart rate monitor while you work out. It can provide you with the most accurate stats, including optimal heart rate zones, fat burning zones, and calorie burn so you can really get the most out of your training sessions. Most heart rate monitors also connect to smartwatches, fitness trackers, and fitness apps so you can track and record your progress overtime to get a better understanding of your overall fitness and reach your training goals. We love the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor. It's highly accurate, waterproof up to 30 meters so you can wear it swimming, and features great connectivity. Plus, it has built-in memory so you can work out without your phone, then download your stats later.
- Best Overall: Polar H10
- Best Value: Polar H9
- Best Budget: Wahoo TICKR
- Best Wristband: Fitbit Inspire HR
- Best Armband: Wahoo TICKR Fit
Best Overall: Polar H10
The Polar H10 is one of the most accurate and popular heart rate monitors on the market. It works with everything and can connect to many sports and smart watches, the affiliated app: Polar Beat, and tons of different fitness apps such as Strava and Nike. It is compatible with all heart rate monitoring cardio equipment so you can connect to your favorite machines at the gym as well. It is widely recognized for its top precision and is the most accurate heart rate sensor in Polar's history.
It uses Bluetooth, ANT+ and 5 kHz to provide excellent connection options. You can use Bluetooth and ANT+ connections simultaneously as well as two Bluetooth connections simultaneously, so you never have to worry about missing a chance to connect and record your data. It's compatible with Android and iOS. This heart rate sensor also features built-in memory for one training session, so you don't always have to bring your phone on your workout and can download your data later.
You wear the Polar H10 around your chest. It's easy-to-use and has silicone dots on the back; it stays put when you're on the move. It's soft, interference-free, and comfortable to wear and made of 38% Polyamide, 29% Polyurethane, 20% elastane, and 13% polyester, so it's machine washable. It's also suitable for swimming and is waterproof up to 30 meters.
On the downside, this sensor is worn around the chest (for accuracy). Some people prefer being able to wear their heart rate sensors in a more convenient location like the arm or the wrist. Some also find it annoying to have to wet the back every time they want to use it.
- Highly accurate
- Waterproof up to 30 meters
- Great connectivity
- Built-in memory
- Must wet the back to get sensor to work
- Wraps around chest
Best Value: Polar H9
The Polar H9 is highly accurate and very affordable, making it a great value. It features excellent connectivity options and can connect to sports and smart watches, activity trackers, gym equipment, apps, and other Bluetooth and ANT+ devices. It's compatible with Android and iOS and easily pairs with the affiliated app: Polar Beat, which gives you access to over 100+ workout profiles. With Polar Beat, you can track things like workout routes, distance traveled, calorie burn, speed (where applicable), and the duration of your training sessions. You can also subscribe to upgrades for an additional cost and get access to things like personalized training advice, fitness tests, and finding your running index.
To use this heart rate monitor, you wet the rubber (back) part of the band and fasten the band snugly around your chest. You then snap in the heart rate sensor, pair it with the Polar Beat app, and you're ready to go!
Keep in mind that you do have to wet the back of the band before fastening it around your chest to get this sensor to work. Some users also found it annoying to wear this sensor around their chest and would prefer wearing it somewhere more convenient, like the wrist or arm.
- High-quality heart rate monitoring
- Accurate stats
- Pair with Polar Beat app to track your training and reach your goals.
- Easy to use and care for
- You have to wet the band around your chest before your workout to get it to work
- Worn around rib cage under clothes
- Polar Beat voice notifications
Best Budget: Wahoo TICKR
This heart rate monitor will help you take your training to the next level and is very budget-friendly. It tracks and captures your real-time heart rate, training zones, and calories burned on your smartphone or tablet with compatible training apps. It is sweatproof and hand washable.
It offers connectivity using Bluetooth and ANT+ so you can connect to smartphones, tablets, GPS watches, bike computers, and more. It will work with 50+ smartphone apps, including Wahoo Fitness (affiliated app), Zwift, Runtastic, Runkeeper, UA Record, Endomondo, Peloton, Map My Run, Kamoot, and Nike Run Club. You can track and record your workout data with the Wahoo Fitness app and automatically upload it to your favorite training platform like Strava.
Some purchasers noted that the affiliated Wahoo Fitness app doesn't have a lot of options when it comes to differentiating workouts. Also, this sensor has two LED lights on the front of it. Some were self-conscious that the lights were visible under their shirts while working out at the gym.
- Sweatproof + hand washable
- Tracks and records stats by connecting to smartphones, workout machines, and apps
- Wahoo Fitness app doesn't have a lot of workout options
- LED light shows undershirts
Best Wristband: Fitbit Inspire HR
This fitness tracker features 24/7 heart rate monitoring to accurately track calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones during workouts. It will track all-day activity, including steps, distance, hourly activity, active minutes, and calories burned. It automatically tracks sleep, and the 24/7 heart rate monitoring enables you to get even more insight on your light, deep, and REM sleep stages. You can automatically and conveniently record 15+ workouts, and it will store heart rate data in one-second intervals during your workouts and five-second intervals at all other times.
This wristband is rechargeable and will give you up to five days of battery life on a single charge. It's compatible with most smartphones and uses Bluetooth for connectivity. It is swim-proof up to 50 meters.
You get a lot more than heart rate monitoring with the Fitbit Inspire HR, but all of those additional features due come at a price. Even though this wearable is pricey, we feel that it's well worth the investment for what you get.
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Activity + sleep tracking
- Call, text, & calendar alerts
- 15+ exercise modes
Best Armband: Wahoo TICKR Fit
This armband heart rate monitor helps you work out efficiently by tracking and capturing your real-time heart rate, training zones, and calories burned on your smart devices or with compatible training apps. Many users think it's more comfortable to wear their heart rate monitors around their arms instead of their chests, so the TICKR Fit features a great armband design and remains highly accurate.
It works with 50+ smartphone apps, including the affiliated app: Wahoo Fitness, Zwift, Runtastic, Runkeeper, UA Record, Endomondo, Peloton, Map My Run, Komoot, and Nike Run Club. You can record your workout data with the Wahoo Fitness app and automatically upload data to your favorite training platform. It's integrated with Bluetooth and ANT+ so you can connect to smartphones, tablets, GPS watches, bike computers, and more. It's also sweatproof, hand-washable, and waterproof up to five feet.
On the downside, this heart rate monitor does not offer any memory storage, so you'll need to have your phone or smart device with you to record your data. Some users also complained of the armband fraying, smelling bad, and breaking down over time. It doesn't seem to have a super long life, particularly if you wear it frequently.
- Worn around arm
- Tracks and records stats by connecting to smartphones, workout machines, and apps
- No memory storage
- Armband wears over time
Get the most out of your training sessions by using a heart rate monitor. It is by far the most accurate and effective way to track your real-time heart rate, optimal training zones, and calories burned. Whether you prefer to wear your heart sensor around your chest, arm, or wrist, we've got the perfect product for you on this list of the best heart rate monitors.
Our favorite overall is the Polar H10. It's highly accurate, swim-proof up to 30 meters, has great connectivity, and features built-in memory for one training session. It's great, so you don't always have to have your phone on hand and can download and record your data later. Whatever you're looking for in a heart rate sensor, you'll find it here on this list of the best heart rate monitors on the market.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicolette Roux is a master fitness instructor and health enthusiast from Los Angeles, CA. She strongly advocates the use of a heart rate monitor in your training sessions so you can get the most accurate stats, track your progress over time, and reach your fitness goals.
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