Do I need to buy a chest strap for accurate heart rate monitoring during workout?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch Accessories' started by SHNXX, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. SHNXX macrumors 68000

    Oct 2, 2013
    I do mostly some weightlifting and some light running when I work out.
    According to this video, the optical heart rate monitoring really doesn't perform well during weightlifting workouts.

    So it seems like getting a chest strap might be necessary if tracking calories is something one wants to do.
    What do you guys think?
    I'm not a bodybuilder or anything but tracking workouts seems like fun and is one of the main reasons why I want to try the Apple Watch.
  2. JPGR_Fan macrumors regular


    Apr 5, 2003
    St. Louis
    Thanks for posting the video. I thought it was well done.

    Similar to the video, my experience has been that the heart rate tracking is exactly accurate with a strap on an elliptical machine. It also gives the same readings as a recently used but now abandoned Nike+ Polar chest strap for jogging.

    My weight lifting efforts are only about 10 minutes long per session so I'm not inclined to worry about tracking calories there.

    I have done some reading about heart rate training for jogging and cycling, but have not seen any literature about the benefits of tracking HR while weight lifting. I may be ignorant of this, but do understand that the calorie counting may be inaccurate (too low) with the Apple Watch while weight training.

    The Apple Watch does a lot of other great things, but the workout app and activity circles are at the top of my list as reasons why I am pleased with it.
  3. audirs5 macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2014
    I'm going to say yes. I don't own one, or any tracking device. I did purchase a fitbit HR once and returned it when I noticed that me moving my arms at my desk resulted in steps taken.. But weightlifting and anything . I would want a chest strap. none of these trackers are accurate. I'm not sold at all.
  4. Smurphy Gherkin macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2015
    Melbourne, Australia
    My watch is often at 1/2 or 3/4 the actual HR during exercise. Wrist devices are just not there for moving arms.

    I use my TICKR strap for aerobic workouts, and just live with the watch on outdoor walks.
  5. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    In my own test wearing the AW and my Garmin 620 w/ chest strap I found the AW about 10% off. Suffice to say I still wear my Garmin and chest strap on runs. AW, for all its activity hype, is a terrible sports watch. Good for recovering couch potatoes but if you are already active it's pointless next to a dedicated [insert your sport here] watch.

    FWIW I had the same results with the Fitbit Charge HR, so I don't blame the AW. I think the light based HRM tech just isn't prime time yet. I can't wait for the day when it is though. For now I think chest straps are the only route to reasonable accuracy.
  6. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    Strange because I have (and 2 friends with Garmin 220/610) dead on results with the :apple:Watch. For instance yesterday I did 9.5 miles and my Garmin 620 HRM average was 149 and my :apple:Watch was 150. I even get near identical results doing cardio machines. They are almost never more than 2BPM average off. Are you sure you are wearing you :apple:Watch snug and slightly up your wrist? On my first run I had a tad loose and my HR was reading all over the map (what I expected from optical) but after tightening and moving up slightly it has been dead on. Of course the :apple:Watch will not a replacement for my 620, but it is surprisingly accurate for HR.

    None of this is applicable for the OP since the :apple:Watch can't be accurate in weight training.
  7. SHNXX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Oct 2, 2013
    Yeah I don't really run much and would prefer that the tracking is accurate for weightlifting.
  8. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    Weight training offers specific challenges to a monitor HR and on top of that HR is not a good indicator of effort or calories burned. Here are 3 reasons:

    1) In weight training your muscle and arteries become constricted making optical HR difficult. You must use a chest strap for this.

    2) Your HR will fluctuate wildly up and down in a short amount of time. Determining your HR is done by counting how many beats for an amount of time and then calculating an average. So the dynamic up/down makes it impossible to accurately determine your HR value (except through EKG).

    3) Much of the energy used is from the anaerobic system, so knowing your HR is not applicable or meaningful info for determining effort.
  9. Tom G. macrumors 68020

    Tom G.

    Jun 16, 2009
    Champaign/Urbana Illinois
    I've only had my :apple: Watch for a week and have done 2 gym workouts (cardio + weight training with a trainer) and a couple of Jog/walks of about 2 miles with my dog. I've used my Polar HR Monitor to compare the results with the watch and have found them to be close enough to each other that I'm satisfied with the results.

    I have not yet upgraded my watch to 1.01.
  10. SHNXX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Oct 2, 2013
    What's the best chest heart rate monitor to pair with the Apple watch?
    Which size should I buy for the polar h7 strap?
  11. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    I like the Wahoo TICKR. It is BT and ANT+ with a built in accelerometer and memory.
  12. MorganB macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2008
    I had a Polar watch with heart rate strap prior to my Apple Watch. I find the heart rate monitor on the apple watch unusable at the gym or for any fitness activity. When I lift it is often "updating" so it only displays my heart rate from time to time. During interval training the lag for the heart rate to update is noticeable so I often don't see my peak heart rate. I've had the watch since day one so I've used it quite a bit on bike rides, running outdoors, treadmill, elliptical as well as resistance training. I finally paired my polar heart rate strap for the first time today. I now have instant readings at all times and it continually updates. MUCH better than the built in monitor. No comparison .
  13. mama2twoboys macrumors newbie


    Mar 9, 2015
    I may look into getting a chest strap. I've had quite a few unsuccessful workout sessions!
  14. Dustin6263 macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2015
    I picked up a polar H7 strap this week for non-cardio workouts (loving it so far). I've found, however, that the stored workouts in the activity app don't store an average heart rate when using the chest strap. Is there a setting I'm missing? I can't seem to find anything.
  15. mellofello macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2011
    I did 2 crossfit classes this week. If you start a "other" workout it seems pretty accurate.

    It seems that there will be a ton of new workout apps in the fall with the new os.
  16. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Does the TICKER buckle on the front or back. If back I guess you have to buckle and then slide it around? Also do you then turn the HR sensor off on the watch and the TICKR's data is used by the Apple Fitness app

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15 June 6, 2015