Heart rate mon­i­tors

You should train in a dif­fer­ent heart rate zone depend­ing on whether you want to im­prove en­durance, boost sprint power or burn fat. A heart rate mon­i­tor (HRM) records your train­ing in­ten­sity and en­sures you’re work­ing in the zone that best suits your goal

Men's Fitness - - Kit Bag -

1 Garmin Fore­run­ner 920XT

£ 390, buy.garmin.com

A triathlon pow­er­house, the Fore­run­ner 920XT has an abun­dance of modes and fea­tures, com­ple­mented by a dis­play that’s easy to read in any en­vi­ron­ment and an in­ter­face so in­tu­itive that the in­struc­tion guide seems like a waste of pa­per.

Its Run­ning Dy­namix soft­ware mar­ries ver­ti­cal os­cil­la­tion, ground con­tact time and cadence with your heart rate to give you a VO2 max it can use to pre­dict race times. It also comes with two swim­ming modes – open wa­ter and in­door. In open wa­ter it re­lies on GPS, while in in­door mode it uses an ac­celerom­e­ter to track dis­tance. Af­ter train­ing, you can use the USB ca­ble and se­cure charg­ing hous­ing to link it to the Garmin Connect site, where you can crunch your data, use ex­pert tri plans and connect with other Garmin own­ers.

Pros

■ Works for all types of ses­sion and en­vi­ron­ment

■ Ex­tremely sim­ple to use

Cons

■ Can’t pro­gram it for in­door pools less than 15m

■ Plug­ging it into a mo­bile charger dur­ing a long ride stops your ses­sion

Ver­dict

Sim­ply the best multi-sport tracker on the mar­ket.

Best for… Any triath­lete who’s pre­pared to splash the cash to get the most out of their sport.

2 Po­lar M400

£ 170 po­lar.com

Thanks to the M400’s in­tu­itive in­ter­face we barely had to con­sult the user man­ual while set­ting it up – good news for any­one who’d rather spend their time train­ing than read­ing in­struc­tions. It fur­ther caters to the impatient with a Back to Start fea­ture that uses GPS to send you home from your cur­rent lo­ca­tion, so you don’t need to plan ev­ery route metic­u­lously.

Work­outs, steps, sleep and calo­ries burned are logged into Po­lar Flow through the web­site or app. Like the watch this ser­vice is easy to use, with a bold in­ter­face. A large cal­en­dar shows your ac­tiv­ity over the month, and you can an­a­lyse each work­out in de­tail. Based on your recorded heart rate it also lets you know the spe­cific health benefits of each ses­sion you’ve done and can sug­gest fu­ture ses­sions depend­ing on your goals.

Pros

■ GPS fea­tures at a low price

■ Easy to set up and use

Cons

■ No vi­bra­tion for alerts or alarms

■ Con­stant use re­quires daily charg­ing

Ver­dict

A com­bined HRM and GPS ac­tiv­ity tracker at an at­trac­tive price.

Best for… Run­ners who like to track more than just their train­ing ses­sions.

3 Su­unto Am­bit3 Peak Sap­phire

£500 su­unto.com

A train­ing su­per­com­puter on your wrist, the Am­bit3 has pre­set modes for ev­ery­thing from moun­tain hik­ing to open-wa­ter swim­ming, along with spe­cific fea­tures for each. Lost dur­ing a run? Use the GPS route plan­ner. Wor­ried that a storm might be brew­ing? Check the weather in­di­ca­tor.

Pair­ing the chest strap and us­ing the watch to record a train­ing ses­sion is sim­ple, but delv­ing into its myr­iad fea­tures re­quires an in­ti­mate fa­mil­iar­ity with the 121-page user man­ual. The sup­port­ing soft­ware (Movescount – avail­able on web and iPhone) is equally ex­haus­tive and even a straight­for­ward run presents you with 22 met­rics in­clud­ing the amount of time spent in each heart rate zone, a sug­gested re­cov­ery time and pre­dicted VO2 max.

Pros

■ De­tailed post-train­ing anal­y­sis

■ Vast amount of fea­tures and met­rics

Cons

■ Over­sized watch

■ No vi­bra­tion for alerts or alarms

Ver­dict

A stat junkie’s wet dream, this can record – and even as­sist with – any ac­tiv­ity.

Best for… The hard-train­ing data geek who feels the only way to im­prove per­for­mance is to know ev­ery­thing about ev­ery sec­ond of a train­ing ses­sion.

4 Timex Iron­man Tar­get Trainer

£ 140 timex.co.uk

For­go­ing GPS, a com­pan­ion app and any way to ex­port data keeps the Tar­get Trainer’s price low and its bat­tery life long. Rather than try­ing to be a per­sonal trainer, an­a­lyst and physio in one, this is more an en­thu­si­as­tic stop­watch with heart rate mon­i­tor­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and a va­ri­ety of train­ing ses­sion op­tions.

Its most use­ful func­tion is the abil­ity to des­ig­nate the heart rate zone you want to work in and set au­dio cues to let you know if you’re go­ing too hard or easy. It also has loads of dif­fer­ent stop­watch and timer func­tions, al­low­ing you to cre­ate in­ter­vals, record laps and set nu­tri­tion and hy­dra­tion timers. Per­fect if you have no need for GPS or you just need an HRM for the gym.

Pros

■ No need to charge

■ Large mem­ory

Cons

■ No GPS means no real-time pace

■ No way to ex­port your data

Ver­dict

A bare-bones HRM and sports watch with a long bat­tery life.

Best for… Bud­get-con­scious run­ners and cy­clists who don’t race and so don’t need to clock spe­cific dis­tances.

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