The beauty of heart rate monitor training is that it’s like having a personal trainer without the cost. By using heart rate monitors and understanding how to use them, you can tell if you’re working too hard or not hard enough. Having that knowledge gives you extra confidence in your workout, knowing that you’re exercising according to your own fitness level, as opposed to someone else’s program.
Some people, however, hate wearing the chest straps that go with the typical heart rate monitor. It might be because they find it uncomfortable, it slips while working out and they have to pull it up, or they don’t like to clean it.
Basically, if these people want to have the benefits of a heart rate monitor, they have the following choices:
1. Suck it up or try another chest strap.
2. Wear a heart rate monitor without a chest strap with a continuous reading.
3. Wear a heart rate monitor without a chest strap without a continuous reading.
Personally, unless I could find another chest strap that worked for me, I would go with option 2. One of the most common complaints about heart rate monitors without chest straps is they do not provide continuous readings. You have to touch the monitor on demand as it’s called, but after you stop touching it, the heart rate reading goes away. While this is mostly true, there are exceptions. Some continuous heart rate monitors without chest straps are the ePulse 2, its predecessor the ePulse, the Scosche Rhythm, its predecessor the Scosche myTrek, the not yet released Mio Alpha, the not yet released Omron-500U, a Numetrex or Polar sports bra/Adidas miCoach Men’s Training Shirt that have built in sensor technology, or the FINIS Aqua Pulse made specifically for swimming.
Of the products that are presently on the market, and if you choose the most recent models, (so no ePulse or myTrek) you’re looking at the ePulse 2, the Scosche Rhythm, the FINIS Aqua Pulse or clothes with built in sensor technology that only require you to add a transmitter. Of those, the ePulse 2 has the most number of reviews on Amazon and of the monitors just mentioned, is basically tied for the highest ratings as of writing this article. The ePulse 2 is an armband with an electronic display of your heart rate optimally worn on your inner forearm near your elbow. The Scosche Rhythm, while providing some really cool features, is very new, so it’s hard to come to a strong verdict. With the Rhythm, you need a device such as an iPhone to be able to read out the data, so if you want to actively look at your heart rate, you’ll probably want a case for your phone that you can easily look at while exercising.
The Aqua Pulse, while having good ratings but limited reviews is really designed for swimming. I suppose there’s nothing stopping you from using it for other activities like running, but your swimming goggles hold the device up, so you’d have to wear those or something equivalent to hold the device up against your head. The Aqua Pulse audibly reads out your heart rate in some interval that you select from the options you can choose from. You can also hit a button that will let you hear your most recent heart rate if you can’t wait for the regular interval reading. Personally, I’d find that product to be annoying for anything other than swimming because I don’t really want to hear my heart rate audibly if I’m running if I can just look at a phone or an electronic display on my arm.
Of the clothes with ratings, I could only find the Polar sports bra on Amazon, and it has pretty good reviews and a decent number of them, and a Pure Lime sports bra which doesn’t have many ratings. If you like the clothes that have the heart rate sensors built in and are willing to pay extra for a transmitter and receiver on top of the clothes, then that might be a good choice for you. You also may be limited by the type of transmitter and receiver you can use based on the type of clothes you buy.
If you’re doing light exercise such as walking or doing moderate exercise and you’re not 100% concerned with accuracy, then a heart rate monitor without a chest strap without a continuous reading might work just fine for you. You can definitely find a bunch of those types of monitors for under $50.
If you’re someone who needs absolutely perfect accuracy, then you’ll probably want to go for a chest strap. Heart rate monitors with chest straps on average will be more accurate than those without. If you want a monitor without a chest strap, however, you may be able to find a heart rate monitor without a chest strap that provides good enough accuracy along with the benefit of not having a chest strap. It just depends on your individual preferences and needs