Heart Rate Monitors: Chest Strap vs Wrist Monitor

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Heart rate monitors

There are obviously many different types of heart rate monitors. Depending on what you're looking for, whether you are a  runner, cyclist, hiker, triathlete or just wanting a heart rate monitor for general health we can give you options and help you understand what features to look for.


What does hrm mean

While researching monitors you will come across the acronym HRM, this simple means heart rate monitor.


Monitors types 

In addition to function features there are also different types of monitors in the way they attach to your body. Monitors will use sensors located on a chest strap or a wrist device. The heart rate monitors that attach to your chest or more accurate however the wrist attaching heart rate monitors easier to use and more convenient.


Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors

A chest strap monitor will use the sensors and electronically send that data to a receiver being either a wrist watch or a phone that displays and tracks your heart rate information. Monitors that use your phone will require an app  to be downloaded. 


Wrist Strap HRM

A wrist strap heart rate monitor has Optical sensors built into the wrist that detects your pulse and then displays that information on the small device screen. They are easier to use because you don't have to deal with getting a chest strap on and adjusting it to find comfort. The downside is that the wrist based monitors are simply not as accurate.

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Heart rate monitors have advanced year over year to a point where they now offer just about every feature you can think of. You will be able to see your heart rate data in real time and track trends that are logged in apps. Some models can also now partner with an attachment that goes on to your shoelaces and tracks your speed, distance and cadence.


Features to Look for in a Heart Rate Monitor

Target zones entry-level models may only have three Target zones. More advanced and more expensive models may have up to 6 or more target zones. The ability to have different target zones is helpful to have when you are mixing up different types of workouts.


For example and aerobic workout may be in a different Target Zone than your high-intensity training workout or long endurance workout.  This is where having different Target zones makes it easier to use your monitor without having to change the parameters every time you use it.


Recovery heart rate mode 

This mode is good for high-intensity training intervals and training sprints. This mode will track and tell you the time it takes your heart to return to its normal resting rate.


Time in target heart rate zone

This mode will simply Monitor and track the time you spend exercising within your target rate for that zone.


Stopwatch and lap split times

This feature will allow you to track laps or marked distances, you can use this feature to monitor your pace and see if it is remaining consistent or not.

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Cadence and Speed tracker

This may be referred to as different names, the feature is for the monitor to give feedback on the speed and cadence for cyclists or strokes for swimmers or lap counters


Speed and distance GPS monitor

Using a GPS system this feature will calculate and measure the speed and distance covered.


Calorie counting heart rate monitor

This feature will estimate the calories burned during exercise.



This will allow your HRM to wirelessly pair with your smartphone or wristband and allow functions such as text messages notifications music and social media to be displayed on the connected armor wristband.


Digital interface to the computer

This may be a plug-in or wireless connection and it will connect your monitor to your computer or smartphone so that you can download and analyze the recorded information.


Battery replacement

Some units have replaceable batteries and some units have rechargeable batteries so just depends on what you're looking for.