There are many different heart rate monitors to choose from on the market today. As a cyclist or runner, when deciding which is the best heart rate monitor for your needs you need to look at two main factors; the type of monitor, and the features each monitor possesses. On a basic level, there are two types of heart rate monitors; chest strap and wrist strap. It is important to know the benefits and draw-backs of each so you are able to determine the best one for you.
Using a heart rate monitor can better tell you if you are in your target heart rate zone during a workout session. Depending on your goals, this target heart rate may vary. Unless you are a seasoned athlete, most people don’t know what their heart rate should be during a workout. Before you can commit to purchasing a heart rate monitor, you need to know what you are looking at.
Finding Your Target Heart Rate
To begin, you want to figure out your resting heart rate. To get the most accurate reading, you should take your pulse immediately after waking up. You want to make sure that you’ve had a good amount of rest and that you aren’t sick. This is very important to determining an accurate resting heart rate. Taking the measurement while you are ill or after a late night can skew the numbers. After about a week of consistent measurements, you should be able to accurately determine your resting heart rate.
The second thing you should do is find out what your maximum heart rate should be. The best way to get a true max heart rate would be to do a physiological test at a sport center. Once you have figured out your training zones you will be able to get the most out of your workouts.
There are six main zones you should train in, and each one will help you to achieve your personal goals quicker. If you have more time then you can go for a lower zone, but if you have limited time for your workout then the best way to burn your calories would be to do some high intensity interval training in a higher zone.
The Importance of Heart Rate Monitors
Heart rate monitors are important for anyone who wants to keep an eye on their heart rate during training to get the best possible workout. Competitive cyclists and runners should use a heart rate monitor to accurately track their progress in training and ensure a healthy, effective routine. Choosing the best heart rate monitor can be tricky, but most of the time it is just a preference as to what will work better for each individual.
When non-medical people start their journey into finding a heart rate monitor they generally care about 2 things - finding their resting heart rate and using heart rate tracking to help them improve or track their fitness. When you are measuring your resting heart rate, a few BPM one way or another won't make much of a difference, but you want to determine if you are in a heathy heart rate range. Similarly, when tracking your fitness, your actual BPM is less important than getting into your target heart rate zone.
Optical vs Chest Strap Monitors
When choosing a heart rate monitor for any athletic activity the biggest thing you have to decide is whether you want to use a more traditional chest strap style which uses an electrical pulse to measure your heart rate or whether you'd like to opt for the optical technology instead. Many big names in athletic watches such as Apple and Fitbit use optical technology, and it is starting to grow in popularity.
Without getting too terribly technical, chest strap heart rate monitors are able to detect the very small electrical signal your body produces that causes your heart to constrict. Optical technology sends a light into your skin and then analyzes the light that comes back. Based on the information we currently know about how light reacts to blood flow, they are able to determine your pulse.
The Wahoo TICKRx is a great heart rate monitor for cyclists. It works with either apple or android, and connects with over fifty smartphone apps including the app Cyclemeter. It is water proof and sweat proof.
If you want to double check your target heart rate zones, this little guy actually has a simple test within the Wahoo app to accurately find out your workout zones. The battery lasts up to twelve months, and is easily replaced after use. It can track your calories burned, and pair with many other products for GPS tracking.
The Wahoo TICKRx has an indoor cycling cadence and comes with a one size fits all strap that you wear around your chest for the most accurate heart rate readings. This monitor has some great reviews from customers and is very highly rated. Most customers believe that this is the ultimate heart rate monitor.
It syncs very well with apps, and is very reliable with its readings. You can enjoy a great workout without the worry of it slipping off and losing your reading. Along with tracking heart rate and calories, the Wahoo TICKRx also tracks distance traveled and speed. You never again have to guess if your workout was intense enough, or how many calories you have burned. This is a great heart rate monitor for cyclists to train more effectively
Wahoo TICKRx Review
Pros: It is a great overall heart rate monitor for cyclists. It connects with a variety of phones and because it uses a chest strap, it is more accurate than cycling watches and wrist strap heart rate monitors.
Cons: It needs to be kept clean in order to remain able to stay in place. It occasionally needs to be reconnected to your phone in order to remain accurate.
Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor
The Polar FT1 heart rate monitor comes with a watch and chest strap. This heart rate monitor combo helps you to exercise within your target heart rate zones safely while also providing exceptional ease of use.
Both watch and chest strap are both designed with cyclists in mind. The watch has a large screen to easily see your numbers displayed. The watch has a built-in alarm to let you know when you are not in your target heart rate zones. This monitor is best for cyclists to keep track of their heart rate, but it does not count calories burned.
Buyers rave about the simplicity of the Polar FT1, and how easy it is to use. One downfall is that this monitor does take a bit to update when you are using it, so for a very active workout session it does not always keep up as needed.
This monitor has the chest strap and wrist strap, but if you only want the wrist, then this monitor will not work for you. The chest strap sends the readings to your watch, so the chest strap is a necessity with the monitor. However, chest strap heart rate monitors are much more accurate than monitors that take your pulse on your wrist so if accuracy is what you are looking for, this may be a combo to consider.
Polar FT1 Review
Pros: The Polar FT1 is great at what it does. It is simple to use and is great for cyclists because of that. The screen on the watch is large, and it has audible reminders that allow the rider to keep track of their heart rate without having to constantly check.
Cons: Most comparable products have multiple functionality such as calorie counting and distance tracking, however the FT1 does not. It is great at what it does: monitoring your heart rate, but doesn’t do much else.
Garmin Edge 820
Next on the list we have the Garmin Edge 820, which is very lightweight and compact. The basic model comes with mounts to attach it to your bike. This makes it a great tracker for cyclists but if you want a heart rate monitor then you need to upgrade it to the performance bundle.
Along with a chest strap heart rate monitor, the performance bundle comes with a cadence sensor and speed sensor. It has a group track feature so you can track other cyclists in your group, and be more aware of your surroundings.
The battery can last up to fifteen hours, but can last even longer in the battery save mode while still tracking all of your details during your ride. It has a touch screen that works even while wearing gloves or when wet. This is a key feature that earned the Garmin Edge 820 a place on this list. Ease of use is extremely important, as cycling is often a fast moving and dangerous sport.
The Garmin Edge 820 has another great feature that sends your location to an emergency contact if an incident occurs. This can give you and your loved ones a little peace of mind if you are a frequent lone rider. The Garmin Edge 820 also has great navigation with their preloaded cycle maps. The map will track you even when you are not on a path. It shows you different routes to take, and places of interest around you. You can do address searches on it, so you will never get lost.
As with any Garmin sports device, it comes with Garmin Connect. This allows you to compete against yourself from previous rides or have a friendly challenge amongst other riders in your area. This alone can help give you the competitive push that is required for you to reach your fitness goals.
The Garmin Edge 820 performance bundle makes for an excellent heart rate monitor for any cyclist. It is a great product with a ton of excellent features that come in handy for road cyclists and mountain bikers alike. Knowing that you are able to ride safer can make you have peace of mind. It’s heart rate monitoring features are incredibly accurate and easy to use. It was designed with cyclists in mind.
Garmin Edge 820 Review
Pros: This bundle is great for cyclists. It comes with GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, as well as a few other features that will come in handy. It has the ability to give your location to a designated emergency contact in the event of an accident, making it a great choice for cyclists who like to ride alone.
Cons: It is a bundle, and with that comes a higher price tag. However, it is a great product that is worth the price.
Choosing The Best Heart Rate Monitor For You
After looking at these different heart rate monitors, you should ultimately decide which is the best heart rate monitor for you based on your overall needs.
If you are looking for top-of-the-line quality, with a price to match, the Garmin Edge 820 plus the performance bundle is an excellent choice. If all you really want is a heart rate monitor, then go with the Polar FT1. If you are looking for a heart rate monitor that still can track your calories burned and track your distance, then the the Wahoo TICKRx is probably the way to go. For a very reasonable price, the Wahoo TICKRx appears to do everything that most cyclists would need minus GPS capabilities.
Whether you are looking for a monitor with everything or just something simple, it is still very important to choose one that fits your needs and helps you accomplish your personal goals. Having a heart rate monitor can help you to train better and get the best possible workout. They can help make sure that you are exercising in your target zone, and not over or under exerting yourself for your safety. After all, cycling is a lot more fun when you know what your body can do.
Do you prefer chest strap or optical heart rate monitors for fitness tracking? Let us know in the comments section below!