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The Top 5 Best Heart Rate Monitors for Runners, Cyclists and Triathletes

7 April 2011 Author: William 21,269 views 5 Comments

Check out my list of the best heart rate monitors and find one that fits your training ability and fitness level. Get stronger, faster, and fitter and post your best race times ever.

It’s not easy picking out the most outstanding pulse rate recorder. There are hundreds of models on the market and most have some really awesome features. I’m talking things like built in GPS tracking that 20 years ago you would have only seen on old Star Trek reruns. And most monitors are really accurate as well, with most chest strap monitors comparable in accuracy to EKG machines you find in hospitals. It’s tough to narrow down the list.

As a competitive runner I’m really picky about what I use to help me with my training. You should see me trying on tennis shoes. Whew! (And I think my wife is bad with jeans shopping.) The last thing I want is something that’s all hype but no substance and doesn’t help me one bit. And God forbid I get something that sets me back. So when I started looking at cardio tempo computers to help me train smarter, I really did some serious research. The result is this list of the highest rated devices and really this entire website.

Rather than just pick one monitor and say that this is the best, forget about all the others, I decided it would be more useful to include the best in a variety of different categories. For example, my sister is a triathlete. She does around 5 or 6 competitions a year and usually finishes towards the top in her age group. So she’s good and knows her stuff as far as training goes. She wanted me to take a look at the most awesome pulse beat watch for triathletes, which I did. You can see the highest rated machine in this category below.


You can also check out some of the best in other categories as well so you can certainly find something that will fit your sport, fitness level, or training style. If you’d like me to add another category, just write a comment below and I’ll see if I can help you out and get it up on the site.

A quick note on the criteria I used to come up with this list. I didn’t rely just on my own judgment and point of view. I’m just one guy, and one guy’s opinion, no matter how good (ha!) may not accurately reflect the market as a whole. This meant I needed to go out and really do my research. So, I read magazines, like Runner’s World, Consumer Reports, and, Bicycling Magazine that talked about cardio pace watches. I also read news articles from the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times with the latest on the world of monitors. I also checked out reviews on retailer websites where the owners of each monitor can post experiences and opinions. These are great sources of information and you can really see which monitors rise to the occasion and come out on top.

That said; check out the awesome list on the following pages. I know you’ll be able to find a watch that will help you become fitter, stronger and faster. And that’s what it’s all about.

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  • Cassie said:

    This is a great article! I had no idea how to go about getting my first hr monitor and this was very helpful! :)

  • Laurie Kellogg said:

    I already had my eye on the Garmin Forerunner 305 and then I read this article which is great! I started running in 2009 and have done three half marathons and two 5K runs to date without a HM to speak of. Just a very simple pedometer. I have trained on my own where I enjoy mixing running with bicycling (not hard core)and now just starting some strength training mostly trying to work my arms a bit.I am very petite (91 -94 lbs)and wondered if someone with a wrist that is only 5 1/4″ around would be able to wear this particular Garmin. Is the wrist strap real stiff and would I be able to adjust shorter (much shorter) if necessary? I would greatly appreciate any feedback as I am really in the market to get rigged up with a great training tool.
    Thanks for your help!

  • admin (author) said:

    Hi Laurie, Good job on your training, it sounds like you’re on the right track. I definitely think that using a heart rate monitor will really give you a boost and you’ll start to see your times drop as a result.

    The Garmin 305 should fit your wrist just fine. However you may want to look at the Garmin Forerunner Quick Release Kit which replaces the original strap pieces with a tighter fitting velcro strap. The kit also comes with a quick release bracket and a bike mount, which is perfect for you if you’re starting to add biking into your workouts. The advantage is that you can attach the monitor to the bike handle and see the read-out without having to twist your arm to look at your wrist. You can pick the kit up for about $18.

    Good luck with your races!

  • Mary Harding said:

    Excellent information. Have decided to try to get back to the fitness level I was at before having chldren 21 years ago. Now at 50 I have managed to lose a stone. I would like to lose a bit more but seem to have reached a stage were I have to exercise a lot more to be able to do this. I found that knowing my heart rate, the amount of calories burned had helped me in the past. I found the information given on this webste very informatve, and have decided to go for a Polar FT60. I had know idea which one to chose as there are so many.
    Many thanks for taking the trouble to help.

  • William (author) said:

    Glad to be of help Mary! Best of luck on your weight loss. Sometimes you can hit a plateau when trying to get in better shape. Just keep at it and you’ll continue to see small improvements along the way.

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