Exercise Equipment Review

A Review of Polar Heart Rate Monitor

There's a wide range of Polar heart rate monitors to choose from. And if you've done any research chances are you've seen the wide range in prices too... even for the same model.

Polar lead the industry in wireless heart rate monitors. They are the choice of professional athletes and most commercial gyms. Polar heart rate monitors all come with a 2 year warranty so all in all they are a pretty safe choice.

Unless you're a sports coach (or you work for Polar) it's easy to get confused by all the different models and their bells and whistles. Some can measure more vital signs than your local Accident and Emergency department! For most recreational runners and cyclists, a basic unit is more than adequate.

Let's examine some of Polar's latest units and who they're designed for. We'll also cover price differences and if there's any savings to made by shopping online...

Recent Polar Reviews

Here is a breakdown of Polars older models

Polar heart rate monitors were categorized into three series. They have now expanded there line of products but these can still be found used and the features are what need to be considered.

A Series
This entry-level series simplifies heart rate monitoring for the beginner and is designed for easy integration into everyday exercise.

M Series
Designed for the more dedicated exerciser. Polar heart rate monitors from this series will have features like OwnIndex, OwnCal and OwnZone.

S Series
These Polar heart rate monitors will provide feedback such as predicted V02 max and nutrition expenditure along with training conditions like temperature and altitude. You can link some of these monitors to your PC so you can visually analyze your performance data.

Should You Buy A Polar Heart Rate monitor Over the Internet?

If you know where to look, buying Polar heart rate monitors online will save you in the region of 15-20% on the retail price. There must be thousands of websites that sell heart rate monitors but I'd stick to the established Internet merchants who've survived the "boom and bust" era of the last 3 years.

The A Series

A1 Polar Heart Rate Monitor
Recommended. If you simply want to measure your heart rate during a run, cycle or at the gym then this Polar heart rate monitor will do that and nothing else. It looks a bit cheap but that's because it is cheap! Prices range from $50 to $60 depending where you shop so if you're on a budget this is a great choice.

A3 Polar Heart Rate Monitor
At $30 more than the A1 you'd expect quite a bit more for your money. Well if you think you'll have difficulty remembering what heart rate zone to exercise in then you can store it in this unit. If you just want a basic monitor then save $30 and stick to the A1 model

Polar A5 Heart Rate Monitor
The A5 offers some additional and valuable features to the other models in this series. It allows you to calculate the number of calories burned during your workout and your BMI (body mass index). It also has an excellent walking fitness test facility on which you can base your routine. You can also use this Polar heart rate monitor as a watch. You can buy the A5 online for under $100.

The M Series

M21/M22 Polar Heart Rate Monitors
Now we're into the M series the features start to add up and so does the price. The M21 and M22 are identical except for their color! It's designed for exercisers trying to manage their weight with features based around calorie expenditure. It looks more expensive than the A5 but essentially it's the same. Save yourself $40 and go for the A5 unit.

M51/M52 Polar Heart Rate Monitors
Recommended. Again the M51 and M52 monitors are the same except for color. It's only slightly more expensive than the M21 and M22 but offers far more useful features. One feature includes a fitness test based on heart rate variability, age, height, weight, sex and activity. You can also store two profiles so it's ideal if someone else is going to use it when you're not. If you can afford the $170 or so this is the best monitor for "non-serious" athletes.

The S Series

Polar S 210 Heart Rate Monitor
At $200 this is the lowest priced monitor in the S series. The S 210 will estimate your VO2max and energy expenditure. You can set 3 target zones and up to 6 profiles for different workouts. It's not the best looking Polar but then if it's style you're after save up for a Rolex.

Polar S 410 Rate Monitor
For an extra $30 over the S 210, the S 410 Polar heart rate monitor allows you to download data to your PC. The other features are essentially the same so the decision comes down to whether you want the ability to link your monitor to your PC or not. If you do and it's important for you to keep a training log consider the S 610 below. It's more expensive but the IR option makes for quicker downloading.

Polar S 510 Rate Monitor
If you're a Triathlete, the S 510 Polar heart rate monitor has all the features of the S 410 plus wireless cycling functions to measure your speed and distance on the bike. A larger screen face makes for easy handlebar viewing and if you own two bikes you can conveniently set two wheel sizes to memory. You can also download data to your PC.

Polar S 610 Heart Rate Monitor
Recommended. Just about the most powerful Polar heart rate monitor available. What this unit can't do you don't need. At $280 it's aimed at professional and serious amateur athletes. It measures your VO2max, calorie expenditure, and average heart rate recovery amongst other things. If you want to record and analyze your training data on a PC, you can download in seconds via an IR interface. Be warned though, it costs an extra $40 so you might want to wait for that sponsorship deal!

Polar S 710 Heart Rate Monitor
The ultimate Polar heart rate monitor for cyclists. At $310 it's aimed at professional and serious amateur cyclists. It measures your VO2max, calorie expenditure, and average heart rate recovery amongst other things. If you want to record and analyze your training data on a PC, you can download in seconds via an IR interface (extra $40). If you can afford it and race to a standard that can justify the cost, buy it.

To sum up, decide which one of the Polar heart rate monitors has only the features you absolutely need. Even most serious athletes don't need anything more sophisticated than the S 210 model.

I'd be willing to bet most people get seduced into buying a Polar heart rate monitor that is far more sophisticated than they need. I know I did!