Polar Heart Rate Monitor Review

I had this song in my head while writing this, nice little tune to start your day!  OK, onto the review of my Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor. I must give a shout-out to my awesome husband who bought this for me! I’ve been looking around for an HRM for a while now and have been checking out different brands, even the Nike Fuel Band (which, by the way,  is not an HRM, just an overpriced pedometer). I decided on the Polar FT40 which was listed on their website for $179 but found it on Amazon.com for $99…score!

This is what comes in the box:

  • Polar FT40 training computer
  • Polar H1 heart rate sensor
  • Manual

Polar FT40

It is very easy to set up; there are quick instructions in the box or you can download the full manual and watch the videos on their website on how to get started. You simply press “OK” on the watch and it will walk you through the steps to input your age, weight, height, gender and the date/time.  I had everything ready to go in about 5 minutes.

To wear the HRM, you simply wet the electrode area of the strap, attach the connector, wrap it around your chest right under your chest muscles, clip it and adjust so it fits tightly but comfortably! Put on the wrist watch and press “OK”;  in a few seconds it should show your heart rate.  To begin a workout, press “OK” one more time. That’s it!

For women, the HRM tucks nicely under your sports bra and you can’t even see a thing. It is quite comfortable and discrete; I hardly noticed it was there and doesn’t feel any tighter than wearing a sports bra. For men, it might take some getting used to wearing it around your chest. Without being too graphic, here is what it looks like on:


Now it is time to test it out!

At the gym I decided to test it out on three different cardio machines: spinning bike, treadmill and elliptical.  I wanted to see how it compared to the numbers on the machine (which I heard could be as much as 25-40%  inaccurate.)  I put in my age and current weight on all machines, except the spinning bike, I could not for the life of me figure out how to do it which is why the numbers are so off as I’m sure it defaults my weight to 150 lbs.  I was excited to see that all the machines automatically picked up the reading from my HRM and checking it periodically with my watch, they were always bang on (this also means that I was not able to test the heart rate sensors on the machine). The calorie burn is where things get iffy. Here are the results of the tests:

Test 1 – LeMond Spinning Bike – 23 minutes
Calorie burn:
Machine – 240 calories
Polar HRM – 195 calories
23% increase

Test 2 – TRUE Fitness Treadmill – 12 minutes
Calorie burn:
Machine – 78 calories
Polar HRM – 103 calories
24% decrease

Test 3 – Octane Fitness Elliptical – 22 minutes
Calorie burn:
Machine – 223 calories
Polar HRM – 200 calories
11.5% increase

Even though the machines picked up the reading from my HRM, the calorie burn was still inaccurate.  With the spinning bike and elliptical, the machine gave a much higher readout (which is what I had expected) but surprisingly, the treadmill said I burned less calories! You can see how valuable an HRM is if you want to know how effective your workouts are.

Here are some shots of the data collected on the watch during my workout:

Data from Polar

You can easily scroll through these screens with the buttons on the right.  There are a number of different views you can choose while you are working out;  it will also tell you when you are in your fat burning zone or fitness zone.

I really love this HRM (no, I’m not paid to say that!) it is very easy to use. This is the only way of knowing how effective your workouts are; no more guessing game. It is worth the investment!

Do you use an HRM? What do you think about them?

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