Best Running Heart Rate Trackers & Monitors

If you are on the hunt for the top heart rate monitors, then you are in luck. Today we're reviewing heart rate trackers for runners.

Running is a great way to improve your stamina and endurance a well as ensuring that you are staying healthy. It is something almost everyone can do and using one of the best running heart rate monitors will help you improve your performance even more.

At the end of the day, a good heart rate monitor for running will provide you with consistent and accurate numbers that will help you improve your performance so you can get better and faster. We extensively researched and reviewed our top picks below, to ensure we gave you the best of the best.

Enjoy!

Standout Picks

Fitbit Charge 4
The Fitbit Charge 4 is a fantastic fit in the Fitbit wristband line. It is compatible with most fitness tracking apps or you can use the Fitbit fitness app that provides a customizable runner profile where you can track your activity, log your meals, and plan your workouts.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
The Forerunner boasts full GPS tracking technology, a water-resistant body and, most importantly, the amazingly detailed/useful Garmin Connect software.
Scosche Rhythm+
The Scosche Rhythm+ is a great HR monitor for those who enjoy using a variety of fitness tracker apps and don’t want to bother with a chest strap monitor.
Amazon Link
Wahoo TICKR X
The Wahoo Fitness Tickr X is a high-performance follow-up to the original Wahoo heart rate monitor.
POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor
The Polar H10 is the heart rate monitor for the runner looking for consistent performance.
Garmin HRM-Pro
This monitor was originally made for use with triathletes. Now it has become a great tool for everyday runners and athletes as well.
POLAR FT4 Heart Rate Monitor
The Polar FT4 heart rate monitor is made for the athlete who isn’t looking for anything too complicated, someone who appreciates more simplistic technology.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Accuracy

When trying to pin down ways to improve your workout through fitness tracking, accuracy is key.

With a heart rate monitor, you can target specific beats per minute (bpm) in terms of calculated training, and add a bit of interest to your jog for the more casual runner. There are two basic formats that these devices come in. A chest strap and a watch or wristband. The wrist located monitors use optical sensors to detect the blood racing through your veins and calculate heart rate from there.

They’ve proven to be a new and exciting option in terms of monitors, but if you want true accuracy there still isn’t much of a substitute for the chest strap. Having an efficient working out session is the main objective of any workout session.

Features

Your heart rate monitor should offer some key features to ensure it is accurate and reliable.

To ensure that we were providing our readers with the best heart rate monitors to choose from, there were several key features we made sure to look out for in each heart rate monitor that we considered. Take a look at the features and factors we took into consideration when it came to the basic features each heart rate monitor has to offer.

Pulse Points—Types of Monitors

These trackers are worn very close to the pulse points found on the athlete’s body. It’s best to always give a thought at where you want to wear your fitness tracker as this will determine their accuracy. Also, this will play an important role in determining the features you want your ideal HRM device to have and how the device will help you in achieving your fitness goals.

Some of the pulse points in the body are chest and wrists. Depending on the location of the pulse point there is a different type of HRM device for the pulse point. There are 3 types of pulse points heart rate monitors depending on where they are being worn (the pulse point).

Chest Strap Type of HRM Devices

HRM devices are worn around the chest using a chest strap and must have a wristwatch device to help collect accurate data. Though some more recent models have been developed with Bluetooth connectivity hence the easy display of data on the athlete’s smartphone.

Wristwatch Type of HRM Device

They are the most preferred type of trackers. They resemble a normal fitness watch. They have a variety of designs and styles with regards to their functionality and have been on the market for long. To read data collected you only need to press a particular button or just touch the rim of the HRM device.

Continuous-Reading HRM Wristwatch

They are also worn on the wrists. These are more advanced devices and can offer correct and updated reading without using a chest strap. The watch is worn around the wrist just above the bone on your wrist and must have a snug fit; this will guarantee very correct and accurate data. The fit should be similar to that of your normal wristwatch.

Effectiveness

You need to be able to rely on your heart rate monitor whenever you use it, so take a look at how effective it is before you buy.

There are several different things your heart rate monitor should be able to do, and it should be able to do these things effectively.

Heart of the Matter – Targeting your Correct Workout Zone

The HRM device has three main important zones that it targets during exercise. These zones vary and hence have different rates, athletes are advised to know and understand the different workout zones. As this plays an important role in determining how effective their workout sessions are. The 3 zones include:

The Warm-up Workout Zone

This zone occurs when you begin your workout and the pulse rate starts to rise. Though it’s important to note that the pulse rate normally ranges between 50% to 60% of the maximum. Ideal for beginners who are just starting to work out as it reduces chances of self-injury during a workout. This simply refers to low-intensity sporting activities.

The Fat-Burning Workout Zone

In this zone, the pulse rate of the heart is between 60% to 70% of the maximum level. Unlike the warm-up workout zone, you will need to exert yourself to a higher degree meaning you increase your workout intensity, the frequency of workout and duration of the workout. You continue enjoying all the health benefits associated with the warm-up workout zone and can burn more fat and calories.

The Cardio Workout Zone

In this level or workout zone, your pulse rate is ranging between 70% to 80% of the maximum pulse rate. This exercise intensity allows you to strengthen the cardiovascular system and be able to burn more fat and calories compared to the two previous zones. It’s important to note that this zone also means more muscle burning which is ideal for those athletes who want to achieve the maximum fat reduction.

The basic models of HRM devices offer almost all of the 3 target workout zones. Devices that can be considered to be more advanced have 3 to 6 target workout zones. With the possibility of having multiple target workout zones, you have the comfort of pre-programing your HRM device for an option of many different workouts like aerobic, endurance & anaerobic variations.

Advanced Features

Advanced features and options can really make or break the value of any heart rate monitor.

The basic kind of HRM trackers can time your exercises/workout and also give you constant and continuous data that shows whether your pulse rate is high, average or low during your entire workout sessions. Most models of HRM devices can be easily partnered with foot pods, they are attached to the shoelaces hence be able to track your running speed, cadence, and distance.

Some models come with built-in GPS receiver abilities that can track a runner’s speed and the distance covered, they also offer functionality in navigation and elevation. The more advanced a device with an extensive array of features the pricier it may be to purchase.

Target Zones:

The HRM device has three main important zones that it targets during exercise. These zones vary and hence have different rates, athletes are advised to know and understand the different workout zones. As this plays an important role in determining how effective their workout sessions are.

Recovery Mode:

Tracks the amount of time it will take the athletes’ heart to resume its resting and normal pulse rate. It is a perfect indicator of determining the level of your cardiovascular fitness also important if the training/ workouts sessions you take part in, involve sprints and/or interval workouts.

Calorie Counter:

Estimates the total amount of calories that are burned during a particular exercise. This is very useful especially if the workouts sessions you take part in, involve workout programs like weight-loss programs. Also functions effectively for athletes involved in training sessions that focus on gaining mass and more muscle.

Speed & Distance:

This is the ideal type of HRM trackers for runners. This is usually the most important feature of a fitness tracker that most runners focus on when shopping for an HRM tracker. It’s able to perform calculations of the speed of a runner, measure the total distance the runner has covered during a given workout session.

All this is done using an inbuilt GPS receiver that is normally used for outdoor sporting activates or by foot pods for sporting activities done indoors (also for outdoor geographical regions with limited reception of satellite connectivity). The foot pod utilizes the presence of an accelerometer, for it to determine a stride’s average length.

Comfort

You should look forward to wearing your heart rate monitor, that means it needs to be comfortable!

Comfort is of the utmost importance when it comes to any wearable running gear--and the best heart rate monitors are no exception. We made sure to put comfort at the top of our list because we know how detrimental it can be to invest in something that is not comfortable to wear or that is a hassle to use. The last thing we want is for you to invest in a heart rate monitor you won't even use.

To evaluate the overall comfort level, we first and foremost took a look at reviews from actual users. Sometimes the only way of knowing how comfortable a heart rate monitor truly can be is to look at how it feels when you use it. The best way to do this is to sift through review after review--which is why we encourage you to do the same to see how it will best fit your needs.

Best Running Heart Rate Monitors

1. Fitbit Charge 4

Where to buy
Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge
Amazon Link

The Fitbit Charge 4 is a fantastic fit in the Fitbit wristband line. It is compatible with most fitness tracking apps or you can use the Fitbit fitness app that provides a customizable runner profile where you can track your activity, log your meals, and plan your workouts.

Read more

Accuracy

Like all Fitbit trackers, this one is incredibly accurate and reliable. It not only tracks your heart rate but also several other metrics during your workouts and daily life.

Features

The battery life is impressive and means you can use your Fitbit all day and then wear it at night to track your sleep and wake with a silent alarm.

Effectiveness

Overall, this is more than a heart rate monitor and is really effective at providing you with accurate numbers.

Advanced Features

The OLED display allows you to receive calls, texts, and calendar alerts as well as see your readings in real-time.

Comfort

The wristband itself is interchangeable so you can personalize your style and fit.

2. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Amazon Link

The Forerunner boasts full GPS tracking technology, a water-resistant body and, most importantly, the amazingly detailed/useful Garmin Connect software.

Read more

Accuracy

The real kicker though is that the Forerunner measures your resting heart rate and records data for all day use. Therefore it’s the perfect companion for fitness freaks who want to know every accurate stat about their body.

Features

This one has excellent features for all athletes--from beginner to elite. It will monitor your heart rate 24/7 and also has a built-in GPS to accurately track and log your distance--this way you can log your pace and your mileage!

Effectiveness

This is a favorite among athletes and is so much more than a heart rate monitor.

Advanced Features

The Garmin Forerunner 245 will also send you text messages, and many other phone notifications, as well as sync with music streaming services.

Comfort

Really comfortable and adjustable.

3. Scosche Rhythm+

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Scosche Rhythm+
Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
Amazon Link

The Scosche Rhythm+ is a great HR monitor for those who enjoy using a variety of fitness tracker apps and don’t want to bother with a chest strap monitor.

Read more

Accuracy

It has Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities, accurately measuring speed, distance, pace, and heart rate.

Features

This heart rate monitor is both sweatproof and waterproof, so you don't have to worry about it getting destroyed if it gets wet. It is breathable and lightweight--it is also compatible with many fitness apps.

Effectiveness

According to user reviews, it's one of the most effective selections you will have to choose from.

Advanced Features

When fully charged, the monitor can last up to 8 hours but may be harder to charge when on the go. Because of this and the bright display, it may also be more difficult to use for those who want to use it to track a sleeping heart rate.

Comfort

The armband is lightweight and breathable and easy to wear. With Ip67 waterproof construction, it is ultra-resistant against sweat and submergible up to 1 meter.

Amazon Link

4. Wahoo TICKR X

Where to buy
Wahoo TICKR X
Wahoo TICKR X
Wahoo TICKR X
Amazon Link

The Wahoo Fitness Tickr X is a high-performance follow-up to the original Wahoo heart rate monitor.

Read more

Accuracy

This one is incredibly accurate and syncs with the app to accurately track your data over time.

Features

Although slightly more expensive, it has many more features than is definitely worth the investment. With Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities, it pairs with over 50 different fitness tracking apps and has 3rd party app compatibility.

Effectiveness

The chest band design isn’t as convenient as an armband, but the internal memory means you can leave your smartphone behind and keep all your readings for later.

Advanced Features

Wahoo also has its own app that can count reps for you and provide a personalized running profile. The IPX7 waterproof construction means the monitor is submergible up to 5ft and is sweat resistant.

Comfort

Comfortable but not as stylish

5. Polar H10

Where to buy
POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor
POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor
POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor
Amazon Link

The Polar H10 is the heart rate monitor for the runner looking for consistent performance.

Read more

Accuracy

The H10 has multiple apps you can access to help track your heart rate with noteworthy accuracy, although one of them requires paying to access all its features.

Features

As far as features go, this is a more simple design. It comes with a battery case and with two different apps.

Effectiveness

Incredibly effective and easy to use, it has a minimal learning curve.

Advanced Features

The H10 may not have the best battery life, but it allows for easy access to its battery case so this is an easily corrected issue.

Comfort

This HRM wears comfortably and is designed not to slip, which is good for the active runner. The H10 has its flaws but overall, it is a reliable heart rate monitor.

6. Garmin HRM PR0

Garmin HRM-Pro
Garmin HRM-Pro
Garmin HRM-ProGarmin HRM-Pro
Garmin HRM-Pro
Amazon Link

This monitor was originally made for use with triathletes. Now it has become a great tool for everyday runners and athletes as well.

Read more

Accuracy

It accurately tracks your heart rate and ensures you are able to accurately track your data over time.

Features

It has nice memory storage enough to keep your info intact while in water and displays it once out. It supports the variability of the heart and gives the dynamics of the running session.

Effectiveness

If you want an effective heart rate monitor, you will love this simple and extremely effective model by Garmin.

Advanced Features

It has a long battery life of up to 1 year when the training per day is approximately an hour. It also has the ability to connect to your wireless devices.

Comfort

It is the lightest and smallest of the Garmin collection monitors. Having comfortable and easily adjustable straps makes this monitor highly likable.

7. Polar FT4

Where to buy
Amazon Link
POLAR FT4 Heart Rate Monitor
POLAR FT4 Heart Rate Monitor
Amazon Link

The Polar FT4 heart rate monitor is made for the athlete who isn’t looking for anything too complicated, someone who appreciates more simplistic technology.

Read more

Accuracy

This heart rate monitor is pretty accurate and will ensure you can easily track your heart rate. Its larger display makes it easy to use and ensures you track your heart rate during your entire workout. It also comes with an optional chest strap for a more accurate reading.

Features

Made with a 1 button system that, while some have a bit of difficultly getting the hang of it, most call it easy and intuitive. The FT4 is also compatible with a lot of exercise equipment, providing accurate readings from anything it syncs up with.

Effectiveness

The one major drawback from an otherwise durable and accessible HRM is the battery can only be replaced by company technicians.

Advanced Features

This Polar heart rate monitor has a larger display to make it easier to read--so you don't have to scrunch up your eyes trying to read it. It also has a manual target setting, so you can adjust it to your choosing.

Comfort

The band is comfortable and the fit can be adjusted to most sizes.

Amazon Link

Sources

  1. Alex Hutchinson, Data vs. Feelings, Running Website

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Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.