The Best Heart Rate Monitor for your Money

The best heart rate monitor should not only provide you with years of reliable and accurate readings, but style and comfort as well. There is nothing worse than a training tool that is unreliable or that causes discomfort in any way.

It's probably safe to assume, if you're reading this, that you currently train or are looking to train in specific heart rate zones. I've been training strictly by heart rate for the last 15 years and during this time I've had 4 different models of heart rate monitors. I don't feel the need to have to bash the other name brands that I have had my experiences with so I won't do that. After the first 3 years however, I finally found what I can easily say is the best heart rate monitor on the market. Once I discovered this, I have been using this make ever since. That is any series of Polar heart rate monitors.

Polar, aka 'Polar Electro', is a Finnish company that were actually the pioneers of the wireless heart rate monitor that they first marketed in 1982. Probably one of the reasons why these units are made so great is Polar is a company that focuses on making heart rate monitoring devices. They basically do that one thing and do it really well.

The only reason I've had to change monitor models a few times was due to my clumsy abuse of the watch itself. I have a bad habit of swinging my arms when walking quickly through doorways and slamming my watch into the frame. Eventually, on two separate occasions I've broken the glass, rendering the watches no longer water proof. This abuse however has lent me the opportunity to try newer models that I'm confident I otherwise would have missed out on owning!

So, in addition to being hard on my stuff, I also live in Northern Ontario, Canada. Suffice it to say, my monitors experience a very wide array of environmental conditions and temperatures ranging from -40 Celsius to 30 Celsius. I've yet to be let down.

As a runner, here are the reasons why I believe that Polar makes the best heart rate monitor:

  • Ease of use
  • Versatility
  • Reliability
  • Universal compliance (work with most gym treadmills)
  • Durability
  • Comfort
  • Style - the watches will easily become one of your daily wares

Ask around, whether you speak to a fellow recreational runner or a serious triathlete, I'm sure you'll get a consensus on my above evaluation.

There are so many different models of Polar heart rate monitors to choose from, each offering different features based on your sport or activity of choice. For runners, a great basic monitor that I recommend is the RS series. The RS series provides you everything you need to record your splits for training and racing. I personally prefer the older 'S' models (S120 or S240) simply because the watch is a little thinner and they have everything I need. As you move up in the models, the features pile up, and so does the cost.

All said, this is one of the most invaluable training tools that I own. In my opinion, training by heart rate using a reliable and accurate monitor is one of the keys to optimizing your adaptation from the workouts prescribed in any given training program.

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