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Heart rate monitors (HRM) are an excellent tool for athletes and nonathletes alike. In an era of companies launching the best biohacking products, sometimes all you need is basic fitness metrics (like your heart rate). 

Your friends at Garage Gym Reviews are not just product testers, we’re a group of athletes, certified personal trainers, and nutrition coaches. We have decades of collective experience in the fitness industry so you can make the best health and wellness investments—including the best HRM for your workout style. 

For our best heart rate monitors roundup our testers bought, tested, and scored the leading brands on the market. Our experts were tasked with scoring each HRM for ease of use, comfort, and connectivity options on a scale of 1 to 5 to determine the best monitors. Let’s get those hearts pumping. 

7 Best Heart Rate Monitors: 

How Do Heart Rate Monitors Work?

Before we get started on our favorite products, let’s discuss the two modes of how an HRM device works. Most chest strap-style devices use an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, which tracks the short electrical currents your heart naturally makes with each heartbeat. An ECG is basically a visual depiction of the electric signals from your heart. 

Smartwatch devices like an Apple Watch or Fitbit use optical sensors (photoplethysmography) which uses infrared light to sense your pulse through the expansion of your arteries in your wrist. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic1, chest strap heart rate sensors are the most accurate because these devices measure your heart rate directly rather than indirectly through your pulse. 

Best Heart Rate Monitor Overall: Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Good for: Folks who want a basic and reliable heart rate monitor for exercise 

Best Overall

Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Chest strap style heart rate monitor
  • Connects with Polar Flow App or third party workout app to keep track of heart rate information
  • Polar equipment compatible with numerous third party workout apps
  • Used by professional athletes and medical researchers
  • Available in 3 colors

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • More affordable than similar high end heart rate monitors
  • Polar equipment can connect to over 200 training apps
  • Chest strap is machine washable (lay flat dry)
  • Most accurate heart rate monitor in Polar’s history
  • Long battery life: Up to 400 hours

Cons

  • Some customers disliked the strap and had trouble getting heart rate monitor positioned
  • The Polar Flow App has very mixed reviews
  • Customers reported issues with monitor connecting once the battery was low
  • Small size only available in black

Bottom Line

Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor is a chest strap style monitor. It is compatible with a large variety of workout apps and Polar has their own app for tracking your data. The H10 monitor has mostly positive customer reviews, with some customers having issues with achieving connectivity. The Polar Flow app had more mixed reviews but the H10 can also connect to third party workout apps.

The Polar H10 is a chest strap heart rate monitor that earns our top spot in the roundup because it’s user-friendly, stays in place, has a long battery life, and provides one of the most accurate readings from the monitors we tested. 

Our tester, Lindsay Scheele, CPT, used the Polar H10 heart rate monitor for a variety of workouts including strength training (legs, upper body, and gymnastics skills) and endurance conditioning workouts. Lindsay found that comparing the Polar H10 to her Apple Watch and resting heart rate was accurate to the H10 reading. She scored the Polar H10 a 5 out of 5 stars for accuracy. 

Woman wearing Polar H10 heart rate monitor around the chest

The only difference she noticed was that the Polar H10 reported more calories burned than the Apple Watch. But for the purposes of this roundup, we’ll stick to heart rate-related functionality. 

RELATED: How Many Calories Does Walking a Mile Burn?

Lindsay says the Polar H10 is comfortable to wear during workouts and easy to use. She gave both categories 5-out-of-5-star ratings. She also likes the fact you can use Bluetooth or ANT+ connectivity to sync with apps like Strava and Zwift. 

“The chest strap stays in place during all my workouts,” she says. “The only thing I noticed was that when I used a rowing machine or did a bench press, the handlebar or barbell hit the monitor sometimes, which is the nature of the chest strap heart rate monitor position.” 

PriceAbout $90 on Amazon
Style Chest strap 
Connectivity Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery life 400-hour replaceable battery 
WaterproofWaterproof up to 30 minutes 

Best Budget Heart Rate Monitor: COOSPO Heart Rate Monitor 

Good for: A solid heart rate sensor with an affordable price 

Best Budget

COOSPO H6 Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitor

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Chest strap style heart rate monitor
  • Real time heart tracking compatible with bike computers, fitness apps, gym equipment, and over 200 third party apps
  • Included: H6 heart rate monitor, chest strap, and user manual

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Very affordable at less than $50
  • Compatible with multiple brands of smart watches and GPS computer
  • Replacement straps available in black, red, and blue
  • IP67 water resistant
  • Compatible with 200 fitness apps like Polar, Strava, Zwift

Cons

  • CoospoRide app poorly reviewed on Android and Apple platforms
  • Only one adjustable strap length available
  • Only available in black
  • Shorter battery life than competitors
  • Some customers struggled with connectivity

Bottom Line

COOSPO H6M is an affordable option for a chest strap style heart rate monitor. It is less than $50 and compatible with a variety of third party apps and equipment. Some customers struggled with connectivity, but generally customers loved that it was an affordable option for heart rate tracking.

The COOSPO Heart Rate Monitor is priced around $30 on Amazon and it’s super easy to use. Our tester, Lindsay Scheele, CPT, says this budget monitor earns 5 out of 5 stars for ease of use. “It connected to my iPhone via Bluetooth quickly and I was able to start tracking my heart rate right away,” she says. 

For the budget price, don’t expect health metrics like step count, stride length, pace, blood flow variance, or VO2 max. This affordable heart rate monitor does two things: Monitors your heart rate and calories burned. However, Lindsay was impressed to see real-time metrics displayed to her phone. 

Woman with COOSPO heart rate monitor around her chest

Lindsay used the COOSPO over the course of a week through different workouts including strength training, Zone 2 cardio, and HIIT-style workouts. “It was comfortable to wear during workouts and after about 5 minutes I forgot it was there,” she says about the adjustable chest strap on the COOSPO. For comfort, she scored the COOSPO 4 out of 5 stars. 

RELATED: Benefits of HIIT Workouts 

For accuracy, Lindsay scored the COOSPO at 4.5 out of 5 stars. Because it’s a chest strap monitor, you can expect it to be pretty accurate. Lindsay said the COOSPO reading was slightly higher on the COOSPO than her Apple Watch and resting heart rate. 

PriceAbout $30 on Amazon
Style Chest strap 
Connectivity Bluetooth, ANT+
Battery life 300 hours 
WaterproofIP67 (immersion up to 3 feet for 30 minutes) 

Best Heart Rate Monitor for Running: Garmin HRM Pro Plus

Good for: Runners who want a heart rate monitor with extra running metrics 

Best for Runners

Garmin HRM Pro Plus

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Chest strap style heart rate monitor
  • Real time heart rate data can be sent to devices, apps, and workout equipment
  • Pairs with Garmin Connect App

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • When paired with Garmin smartwatch provides running dynamics information
  • Also tracks steps, calories burned, and intensity minutes
  • Long battery life with user replaceable battery
  • Chest strap extender available

Cons

  • Recent Garmin Connect update very poorly review for new user interface
  • More expensive than competitors
  • Functionality limited if you aren’t pairing with Garmin watch

Bottom Line

Garmin HRM Pro Plus is a chest strap style heart rate monitor that also provides information on steps, calories burned, and intensity minutes. When paired with a compatible Garmin watch it can also provide data on running dynamics. So you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you already have other Garmin Devices. Customers very strongly dislike the Garmin Connect app update from early 2024 that changed the user interface.

The Garmin HRM Pro Plus is an excellent choice for runners due to added notifications and metric tracking for running dynamics. One of our GGR expert product testers who uses Garmin products for cycling and running tried this out. 

RELATED: Best Pre-Workout for Running

Our GGR expert tester scored ease of use 5 out of 5 stars. They said: “I’m in the Garmin ecosystem, so it was very easy for me to set up and get started. Once my Garmin watch was in the workout selection mode, the external HRM pops up and says it is connected before I even started the workout.” 

Woman with Garmin Pro Plus heart rate monitor around her chest

Garmin also offers a free app called Garmin Connect which offers real time metrics. Our tester says, “This is a solid heart rate monitor for distance training sessions so you can understand your target heart rate zone and learn to pace yourself. This seems like a worthy tool for runners, marathoners, and triathlon training.”

For accuracy, our tester gives the Garmin HRM Pro Plus 4.5 out of 5 stars when compared to their smartwatch and resting heart rate. When the Garmin HRM Pro Plus is paired with other compatible Garmin smartwatches, it can also track your running pace, distance, ground contact time, stride length, and vertical ratio. The brand claims these data points can help you improve your running form. 

RELATED: Good Running Form for Beginners

While our tester didn’t dive too deep into the running dynamic metrics, they did find the chest strap to be comfortable and stayed in place during workouts. It scored a 4.5 out of 5 stars for comfort. 

Price$129.99
Style Arm band 
Connectivity Bluetooth
Battery life Non-rechargeable CR2032, 3 V battery (about 1-year lifespan) 
WaterproofWater resistant 

Best Armband Heart Rate Monitor: Wahoo Tickr Fit 

Good for: Folks who prefer armband monitors 

Best Armband

Wahoo Tickr Fit Armband

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Armband heart rate monitor worn on the forearm
  • Provides heart rate and calories burned information
  • Included: TICKR FIT, small arm strap, large arm strap, and battery charger

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • LED indicator light to confirm connection
  • More affordable than chest strap monitor
  • 30 day satisfaction guaranteed
  • 2 sizes of arm straps included

Cons

  • Some customers had difficult getting monitor to connect
  • Some users found the small strap too large
  • Short battery life

Bottom Line

Wahoo TICKR Fit is an armband style heart rate monitor that is worn on our forearm. It has a 30 hour battery life and uses a rechargeable battery. Customers generally liked the armband, however, some customers found the small armband too large. They said it was difficult to achieve a connection and get the armband to stay in place.

The Wahoo Tickr Fit is a wearable heart rate monitor for your forearm, which we found to be more accurate than wrist-based monitors but slightly less accurate than chest-based monitors. 

GGR expert tester and certified personal trainer Lindsay Scheele used the Wahoo Tickr Fit for lifting workouts, indoor cycling, and a rucking session. She scored accuracy 4 out of 5 stars when compared to her Apple Watch and resting heart rate. 

Lindsay also notes that the Wahoo heart rate monitor tracks more than heart rate including duration, power output, cadence, speed, distance, calories burned, heart rate zones, and duration in heart rate zones. “This is much more than a standard HRM,” says Lindsay. 

Woman wearing Wahoo ticker fit heart rate monitor around her forearm

When it comes to ease of use and the set up process, Lindsay scored the Wahoo Tickr Fit at 4 out of 5 stars. Lindsay had to download the Wahoo app (which is free) and sync to her phone via Bluetooth. “There is no screen on the Wahoo tracker, so you’ll have to use your phone to select your workout type, start tracking, and view metrics,” says Lindsay. 

RELATED: Best Workout Apps

Lindsay says it’s pretty easy to use but she did run into some problems trying to track her workouts for the first few times on her iPhone. “There were too many buttons in the app. Plus the Bluetooth (or ANT+) starts to sync before you can start the workout so I thought it started tracking but I actually had to do it manually,” she says. 

However, she says the armband-style tracker is comfortable to wear and is breathable on your arm. “I didn’t really notice the band much at all,” says Lindsay. She scored the monitor 4 out of 5 stars for comfort. 

PriceAbout $80 on Amazon
Style Armband
Connectivity Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery life 30 hours; rechargeable 
WaterproofIPX7 rating (immersion up to 5 feet) 

Best Everyday Heart Rate Monitor: Fitbit Charge 4

Good for: Folks who want to track daily metrics and heart rate on a watch-like device 

Best Everyday

Fitbit Charge 4

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Built-in GPS
  • 24/7 heart rate tracking
  • Sleep tracking capabilities
  • Water resistant up to 5 ATM/50 meters
  • Under $150

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Under $100
  • Built-in GPS and cellular capabilities
  • 1-year limited warranty and a 45 day money back guarantee
  • 24/7 heart rate sensor

Cons

  • Small display face at just 1 inch wide
  • Takes hours to charge fully
  • Use of GPS significantly cuts down on battery life

Bottom Line

The FitBit is a classic fitness tracker capable of tracking your workouts, and it comes with built-in GPS.

Our testers think the Fitbit Charge 4 is one of the best devices for everyday use. It’s designed like a watch to display time and date along with metrics like heart rate, step count, and calories burned. 

But you can track more than just your heart rate and a few basic metrics—you’ll have built-in GPS, skin temperature reading, oxygen saturation levels, sleep tracking, and women’s wellness tracking. Former GGR tester Caroline says it’s packed with features. “You can even play music from your wrist on the Charge 4,” she says. 

However, for ease of use she scored the Fitbit 4 out of 5 stars. “I find it difficult to navigate between all of these components and metrics,” says Caroline. 

It’s worth mentioning that Fitbit has released more recent models of the Charge, but we haven’t done hands-on testing of the newer versions. The Charge 4 is still available on Amazon and retails around $125. 

Caroline’s other callout on the Charge 4 is the charge time. “It takes more than two hours to charge the battery to 100%. Once it’s there, it does last a while—about seven days,” she says. 

You can read more about our testing experience in our Fitbit Charge 4 review

PriceAbout $125 on Amazon
Style Wrist watch 
Connectivity Bluetooth 
Battery life 7-day battery life; rechargeable 
WaterproofWater-resistant up to 50 m (164’) 

Best Heart Rate Monitor Smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 7

Good for: The ultimate smartwatch experience and health metric tracking 

Best Smartwatch

Apple Watch Series 7

GGR Score: 4.4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

The Apple Watch Series 7 features the largest display on an Apple Watch yet, with the most durability, plus health tracking features like blood oxygen level. 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Puts your phone on your wrist
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Tracks heart rate, blood oxygen level, sleep

Cons

  • Price ($399 base)
  • Capabilities may be too overwhelming for some

Bottom Line

If you’re an Apple junkie, you’ll be totally into this watch. And even if you’re not, but you’re looking for a smart watch/fitness tracker in one, it might be for you.

The Apple Watch is far more versatile than your average HRM. Apple Watch users can track heart rate, blood oxygen levels, activity, step count, and sleep. You can also use the Apple Watch for fall detection and call for help in the event of an emergency. 

Plus, it’s fully integrated with any of your iOS devices like an iPhone or iPad. GGR Everything Lead Reviewer Lindsay Scheele says, “It literally does everything—it’s your phone on your wrist.” 

Woman wearing Apple Watch in a gym

That means you’ll be able to use your Apple Health app to track, record, and see patterns in your sleep, steps, heart rate, activity levels, and more. However, the caveat to having so much packed into a small screen is that it can be challenging to navigate. “It’s not just one or two clicks to start tracking a workout. It can be a bit frustrating that it takes a number of swipes to find what you’re looking for,” says Lindsay. 

Another common frustration among Apple Watch users is the battery life. You’ll have to accommodate for a daily or every-other-day charging routine. But it charges in about an hour according to Lindsay. 

Apple Watch view of apps on small screen

To track your heart rate, the Apple Watch uses infrared light to sense your heartbeat through your pulse. It’s not the most accurate reading, but Lindsay and a few of our other GGR product testers say it’s usually only off by a few beats per minute compared to a chest strap monitor. For accuracy, the Apple Watch earns a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. 

Similar to the Fitbit we mentioned above, we haven’t tested the Apple Watch since the Series 7—we know the 10 series is about to launch—but you can still purchase Apple Watch 7 on Amazon. And if you’re curious, we even have an in-depth Apple Watch Series 6 review you can check out for additional details on our testing experience.

PriceAbout $330 on Amazon
Style Wrist watch 
Connectivity Bluetooth 
Battery life 18 hours; rechargeable 
WaterproofIP6X rating (resistant to powerful streams of water) 

Best Hand-Held Heart Rate Monitor: Kardia-Mobile EKG

Good for: Folks who don’t need a wearable device 

Best Hand-Held

AliveCor Kardia Mobile

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Single lead personal electrocardiogram (EKG) machine
  • Record medical grade EKGs with our device and phone
  • Can detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), bradycardia, and tachycardia additional with KardiaCare membership
  • Record EKGs from 30 seconds to 5 minutes long

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • FDA cleared device
  • Download and send EKGs to your doctor
  • Free shipping
  • Record an EKG in as little as 30 seconds
  • Compatible with a large variety of devices and can check compatibility on website

Cons

  • Very limited functionality without subscribing to membership
  • Not recommend for use with pacemakers and ICDs
  • Kardia mobile app poorly reviewed
  • Customer reviews struggling with connectivity

Bottom Line

Kardia mobile EKG machine is an FDA cleared device that can be used to record EKG that can be downloaded and sent to your doctor. It can also detect atrial fibrillation, bradycardia (slow heart rate), and tachycardia (fast heart rate). In order to have full functionality, and detect other anomalies, you will also have to subscribe to KardiaCare or KardiaCare Plus. Numerous customer reviews were extremely frustrated by the subscription service required to access the full functionality of their device. Be careful, use the website to check if your devices are compatible with the Kardia mobile before purchasing, some customers did not have compatible devices.

If you’re looking for a heart rate monitor that doesn’t need to be worn—perhaps for an elderly family member—the Kardia-Mobile EKG is the way to go. Our tester, Lindsay Scheele, CPT, says the set up and ease of use is straightforward but it’s a bit of a process. Overall, the ease of use earns a 4-out-of-5-star rating. 

There is no screen on this HRM, so you will need to download the free Kardia Mobile app before you get started. Lindsay says once you have downloaded the app and confirmed your account you’ll be able to sync your smartphone or tablet to the HRM. “It’s painless, but still worth noting you can’t just use it right out of the box,” says Lindsay. 

Person holding Kardia-Mobile heart rate monitor

Lindsay says she prefers HRM devices that help you track your target heart rate zone, but the Kardia-Mobile EKG is not designed to be worn during workouts. “This is a product intended to record your heart rate pre-workout and post-workout to test or monitor underlying heart conditions,” she says. 

RELATED: Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults 

“The instructions say you need the EKG on a flat surface, the user should be seated, and not to use it around large tech devices like a computer or TV,” she says. “This indicates this product is more of a preventive tool versus a true heart rate monitor,” she adds. 

The companion app allows you to send your EKG readings to a doctor or family member right from the app. The HRM can also detect fibrillation and irregular heartbeats, which may be helpful for folks with cardiovascular conditions. 

PriceAbout $80 on Amazon
Style Non-wearable; hand-held
Connectivity Bluetooth 
Battery life Not rechargeable (CR2016 coin cell)
WaterproofNo 

Other Heart Rate Monitors We Tested

  • MZ-Switch: This is a highly-rated chest HRM that we have not yet gotten our hands on. We plan to update when we have tested it. 
  • Fitbit Sense: Our testers don’t recommend this fitness tracker and had problems with tracking activity almost right away. 

How We Picked and Tested

When it comes to our testing methodology, here are some things our testers have to consider before scoring a 1-to-5-star rating in each category: 

  • Price and value: Our testers had to determine if each heart rate monitor provided enough bang for your buck.
  • Accuracy: Our testers based accuracy on a manual resting heart rate test and comparison to their preferred smartwatch. The highest scores were reserved for monitors within 5 beats per minute from our tests. 
  • General wear and comfort: High scores were given to products that were lightweight and comfortable. Monitors also had to be easy to take on and off and stay put during exercise. Our testers also considered if the HRM was appropriate for both workouts and daily wear. 
  • Battery life: We considered the battery life, if it’s rechargeable, and how long it can last between charges. High scores were given to products with rechargeable batteries and ones that could last through multiple workouts.
  • Connectivity: Our testers considered if each device was able to sync with their smartphone. High scores were given to devices with both Bluetooth or ANT+ capability and had companion apps for easy metric tracking. 
  • Ease of use: Testers considered if each device was easy to use and sync to their smartphones. They also considered the navigation on the companion apps and how metrics were tracked or recorded.

Benefits of Heart Rate Monitors

Tracking and monitoring your heart rate can be a helpful metric for athletes who track their resting heart rate, maximum heart rate, or find their target heart rate zone while training. However, the same metrics are helpful for non-athletes, too. 

Heart rate monitors can even be used for monitoring stress, activity levels throughout the day, and sleep tracking. Heart rate sensors are also used to monitor vital signals in older folks or anyone with cardiovascular health conditions. 

A review from Sports Medicine2 states that increased heart rate variability—the variation in time between heartbeats—is associated with lower mortality. The review also states that untrained individuals have lower heart rate variability than folks who exercise and train regularly. 

Heart Rate Monitors: FAQs

What is the most accurate heart rate monitor on the market?

From our experience, the Polar H10 is the most accurate and consistent heart rate monitor. It’s also well-liked among customers, cyclists, runners, and competitive athletes.

What is the best wearable device to monitor your heart?

For everyday use (not just during exercise) we recommend the Fitbit Charge or the Apple Watch.

Is a chest or wrist heart rate monitor better for running?

If you’re going for accuracy, a chest strap will offer the most accurate heart rate data since it’s close to your heart and measures your heart rate with electrodes. However, if you want fewer things to wear and something easy to see, some runners may find it easier to wear a wrist fitness tracker or smartwatch instead.

References

  1. Heart rate monitors: How they work and accuracy. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/23429-heart-rate-monitor 
  2. Achten, J., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2003). Heart rate monitoring: applications and limitations. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 33(7), 517–538. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200333070-0000427.

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