It’s no wonder you’re slightly at a loss when it comes to trying to decide what heart rate monitor to purchase – there are literally hundreds of styles, all with different functions and sports applications which range from a basic heart monitoring aid at entry level to an on-board computer suitable for monitoring performance of world-class sports people.
What Is Your Heart Rate Monitor Going To Be Used For?
When assessing what heart rate monitor you’re likely to need, it’s essential to think beyond the most obvious factor – price, and to consider instead what your sporting goals are now and are likely to be in one years time. There is nothing worse than investing in a $50 monitor with basic functions for jogging around your neighborhood, only to find that it isn’t capable of monitoring the more complex things you find yourself wanting to do and know about six months down the line.
A good place to begin is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What sport(s) are you going to be using your monitor for?
- Do you prefer/need to view your workout on a wrist monitor, on your equipment screen, or on a PC screen? Is that likely to change over time?
- Do you /will you need basic, moderate or complex data about your workout performance?
- Do you /will you need to track distance and/or speed?
- Will you be tracking distance over a fixed area e.g treadmill, stationary bike, track or velodrome, or will you be out on the road/open country/water?
- Do you /will you need to monitor your performance continuously or at intervals during your workout?
- Do you intend to monitor your workout performance over time?
- Do you /will you need to gather your workout data for analysis or relay to a coach?
- Do you /will you need your monitor to double up for use an outdoor navigational tool containing functions such as altimeter, compass and barometer?
It is possible to buy a monitor which has the capacity to “grow” in function in accordance with your needs, so you might want to consider investing in one of these, buying additional accessories as and when you need them.
Chest Strap v. Strapless Heart Rate Monitors
The most basic decision you will need to make when choosing what heart rate monitor best suits your needs will be chest strap or no chest strap?
Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors
Most frequently used type of heart rate monitor. They detect heart rate via a chest sensor worn around the chest and send the data to the viewing monitor using wireless technology. They will give accurate ECG continuous heart rate monitoring throughout a session. They are available in both analog and digital forms (digital provides a more robust signal).
- The wearing of a strap means that your monitor can provide you with constant information about what your heart is doing.
- Certain models can be used to interface with your gym equipment i.e the information from the chest strap can be relayed wirelessly to your treadmill, stepper or stationary bike for on-screen viewing.
- Chest strap heart rate monitors rely on maintaining a good contact between the electrodes on the strap and the user’s chest. Some activities such as swimming prevent this constant bond and as a result the heart rate reading is obstructed.
- Analog chest straps may be prone to “fat bike elettrica prezzo” interference when used in close proximity to other users i.e your signal may be interfered with when others are also using HRMs at a distance of less than 3ft/1 metre from you, e.g in a gym or during a race. There is less risk of this happening with coded transmitters.
- While most HRMs are water resistant 20-100 metres, this only means that they will not be damaged by being worn in water. They cannot be used to continuously measure heart rate whilst swimming because the water interferes with the transmission of analog radio waves.
- If you need continuous monitoring of your performance while under water, you should consider purchasing the Suunto Smartbelt, which when used with Suunto software can store and relay an accurate reading of your workout without a wrist monitor being used.