HRM Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Heart Rate Monitor for You [Updated as of August 2017]

Date Posted:21 August 2017 


Buying the Best HRM: How to Choose the Best Heart Rate Monitor for You?

Whether you’re training for a triathlon, preparing for a particular sport competition, or simply want to lose some weight, using a heart rate monitor or HRM can you help measure and improve your fitness level. An HRM measures your heart rate in real time and lets your record it to track your progress. 

A heart rate monitor is the best device to understand how your body is responding to physical activity. Just like a car burns fuel to create energy, our heart needs to pump oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the muscles. The harder we exercise, the more fuel our muscles demand, and the harder our heart beats. This process is measured in “beats per minute,” or BPM. Seeing how hard your heart is working tells you when to dial it up or tone it down to achieve the results you want to get with your workout.

Active Stride features several brands that provide heart rate monitoring, and these brands have several models. Here are a few questions that would help you pick one that perfectly matches your needs and lifestyle:

  1. Would you prefer an HRM without a chest strap?
  2. Would you be using your HRM with a smart phone?
  3. Would you like to use an HRM with memory?
  4. Would you like to use an HRM with accelerometer?
  5. Would you like to use an HRM (chest strap) with wrist & bike units?
  6. Would you be using it while swimming?

 

1. Would you prefer an HRM without a chest strap?

If you would prefer to use strap-less HRMs, you can use optical heart rate monitors instead. Optical HRMs can check your heart rate using a sensor that measures the pulse on your wrists. It uses light to calculate the blood flow under your skin.

Garmin vivosmart 3 Garmin vivosmart HR+ Garmin vivoactive HR Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin vivosmart HR+ Garmin Forerunner 35
           
Garmin Forerunner 235 Garmin Forerunner 735XT    Garmin Forerunner 935 Garmin fenix 5 Garmin fenix 5s Garmin fenix 5x
Garmin Forerunner 235 Garmin Forerunner 735XT Garmin Forerunner 935 Garmin fenix 5 Garmin fenix 5s Garmin fenix 5x
           
         
TomTom Spark Cardio          

 

2. Would you be using your HRM with a smart phone?

If you plan to use your HRM with your mobile device, make sure that it has Bluetooth Smart capability. This lets you transfer workout and performance data transferred wirelessly from your HRM to your phone. You can then view this information through smart phone apps that work with your HRM.

Magellan Bluetooth Smart 
Heart R​ate Monitor

TomTom Bluetooth Smart 
Heart Rate Monit​or

Suunto Smart Belt

​Wahoo TICKR

​Wahoo TICKR X
(Includes memory features which can be used by Wahoo apps and selected other apps)

 

3. Would you like to use an HRM with memory?

If you would be using the HRM for swimming and activities where a receiving unit, like a smart phone, can't be worn or reached by the bluetooth signal), we recommend the following HRM straps. 

(Works with Ambit3, Suunto Movesount app, Wahoo app)
This device is wireless transmitter which records data on an integrated memory chip for downloading and analyzing at a later time. It can continuously record more than 24 hours of training sessions without interruption. 

​Wahoo TICKR X
(Includes built-in memory features can be used by Wahoo apps and selected other apps). It captures heart rate, calorie burn, and duration from your workouts and syncs them to your phone later.


4. Would you like to use an HRM with accelerometer?

If you would like to capture data from your treadmill workout on your phone or sportwatch, get an HRM with accelerometer. Accelerometers are movement monitors that can measure vertical oscillation, ground contact time, and running cadence. Here are a couple of HRM straps that has an accelerometer.

Garmin HRM4-Run
(Works with Forerunner 630, 920XT, fenix 3, epix)

Wahoo TICKR Run
(Works with the Garmin Forerunner GPS watch series and Wahoo apps) 

 

5. Would you like to use an HRM (chest strap) with wrist & bike units?

The following heart rate monitor straps can be paired with compatible sportwatch or cycling GPS with either Bluetooth Smart or ANT+ connectivity. 

Garmin Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor

Magellan Bluetooth Smart 
Heart R​ate Monitor

Garmin HRM4-Run

Garmin HRM-Swim

Garmin HRM-Tri

Suunto Smart Belt

​Wahoo TICKR X

​Wahoo TICKR

 

6. Would you be using it while swimming?

The HRM straps listed below are designed to capture your heart rate data while you swim. These straps store the data on the module and then send it to a compatible watch after you swim, when you are free of the water. The result at the end of a session is a detailed time versus heart rate graph for the entire swim session.

 

 

Suunto Smart Belt   Garmin HRM-Swim   Garmin HRM-Tri
         
Uses Bluetooth Smart Connectivity and works with Suunto’s Movescount App, and the Suunto Ambit3 sport watches.   Uses ANT+ connectivity and has an additional special sticky back surface to keep it from sliding down your chest in pool scenarios.   Uses ANT+ connectivity. Measures Garmin Running Dynamics and records heart rate underwater. It's designed for swim/bike/run triathlons but doesn't have the special sticky part like the HRM-Swim strap.

 

Which heart rate monitor feature is most important for you? Please comment below.

 

Here are more buying guides that can help make your shopping decision easier:

 

Top Four Ways How Activity Trackers Can Improve Your Fitness


Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up