Joe transformed himself from a coach dweller to an endurance athlete in mere months; there is no doubt training smart helped his progress.
Why Would You Need a Heart Rate Monitor?
Presumably, if you’re reading an article reviewing a specific heart rate monitor, you already know why you want one, but just in case you need a little convincing, I will detail my personal experience using heart rate monitors.
In order to train for a 100-kilometre cycling race around my home city, I decided after years of sporadic exercise and frequent fast food I needed to get serious, so I elicited the help of a friend who happens to be an accomplished rower and cyclist. Both rowing and cycling are cardio intense sports, so I trusted this friend’s advice completely; he had won national level competitions in both, so clearly, he was doing something right.
He had me strap on his heart rate monitor and go for a reasonably flat 20-kilometre cycle, but I wasn’t allowed to see my heart rate, as it was connected to his phone. So, after sweating my way around the route he had made for us, he showed me the breakdown of my heart rate on the app. Unsurprisingly, it showed I was working far too hard for such a short cycle; in fact, I was often in the anaerobic range where you start to build up serious amount of lactic acid.
My friend explained, gently, to his credit, that I was extremely unfit, and I would have to “go slow to go fast,” which to me sounded like a contradiction. However, it was explained to me that I needed to train my aerobic system to be able to last for an entire 100-kilometre bike ride. I went home with a new understanding of just how tough a 100-kilometre ride would be and the desire to train properly using a heart rate monitor. The heart rate monitor I purchased was a Wahoo TICKR, and in case you’re wondering, I did complete the 100-kilometre cycle a few months later.
A heart rate monitor paired with a decent monitoring app will mean you can train the correct heart rate zone for the type of training you are aiming for.
Pros and Cons of the Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor
Bluetooth and ANT+
Waterproof to only 5 feet
Not USB chargeable
Long battery life of 12 months
Batteries are cheap
Compatible with third party apps
Specifications of the Wahoo TICKR
As with all purchasing decisions I make, I deliberated over what heart rate monitor to get by comparing their technical specifications, reading in-depth customer reviews and talking to friends who had first hand experience. Let's cover the details:
This device features 2 LED lights, the blue one indicates the device has an active connection and the red one indicates the device is actively monitoring your heart rate. There are two pads on the strap that will be on either side of your chest when you strap on the device, these pads will adhere slightly to your skin meaning it won't slide down if you're sweating (trust me I sweat a lot and it has never been an issue).
The device is very light and I have found that once I am exercising I completely forget I am wearing it, which really goes to show how comfortable the strap is as well. Speaking of the strap you can adjust the strap from 23 inches to 48 inches at it's most stretched, you can also hand wash the strap so you don't need to worry about it smelling after multiple exercise sessions.
As you can see from the price data in the table below (and to find out how I got this price data you can read my article “How to Avoid Fake Amazon Deals”) the Wahoo TICKR is very competitively priced at an average price of roughly £37 ( which is around $46 or €41). Compare this to devices such as the Polar H10, which only has an improved waterproof depth, but is double the price at roughly £74. All the cheaper devices I have looked at have many reviews claiming significant inaccuracies in the reported heart rate when compared to more accurate measurements or extremely poor battery life.
This is the category where the device falls over slightly, with an IPX7 rating the device is only waterproof to a depth of five feet. This won't be an issue if you swim at surface level like me, but if you're a more adept swimmer or compete, you will likely want to go for a device that is more durable when it comes to living in water.
For me this has never been an issue; the device has survived being drenched in sweat and rain and that's all I need it to do as 99% of my training occurs on dry land. If you need a more waterproof device, it might be worth looking at the Polar H10 which is waterproof up to 30 metres, more than enough for a competitive swimmer.
The Wahoo TICKR uses a CR2032 battery which can be purchased extremely cheap at Amazon, generally for around £1 for 2 batteries. These batteries can last in the device for up to 12 months and replacing the battery is extremely easy, there is an indent in the back of the device so you can rotate the back-plate off with a coin and then replace the battery.
The only improvement I can think of in terms of powering this device is a trend I have seen a lot of bike lights taking—making them USB chargeable. This would eliminate the need for batteries completely and would mean people could charge the device the same way they charge most of their electronics, after all who wants to think about having to replace batteries? This would be particularly useful for people like me who go on long cycles where the battery may run out, if it was USB chargeable I could use the power-bank I carry with me to top it up.
Third Party App Integration
No need to worry about only being able to use one app with this device, it can be used by over 50 different third party apps including Strava and MapMyFitness. Personally, I use the Wahoo Fitness app because it doesn't require you to make an account and can save all data locally which in a world full of constant data breaches are features I really appreciate. Personally I haven't seen any reviews that indicate anyone has had an issue connecting this device with their favourite fitness app and I have tested it with multiple apps while I was trying to find the app that worked best for my needs.
This device offers both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, meaning it can easily connect to your phone using Bluetooth as well as devices such as a Concept 2 rowing machine. Not only can you connect using both technologies, but you can also do both simultaneously.
I use this dual-connectivity functionality to record my heart rate on my phone for later analysis as well as viewing the heart rate on the rowing machine in real time. Many of my friends who own this device connect it to their Apple watch and have reported no issues doing so. The device also doesn't care what operating system your phone uses, so whether you use Android or iOS, you shouldn't have any trouble connecting with this heart rate monitor.
How to Connect Your Wahoo TICKR to a Rowing Machine
I have had my Wahoo TICKR for about six months now, and I have clocked in hundreds of kilometres both on my bike and on the rowing machine. I have had exactly one issue ever with the device, which was a 10-minute period whereby my phone couldn't connect to the device; however, I have no proof this was the device and not my phone acting strange (I do have a rather battered iPhone 6s). Other than those 10 minutes, I have experienced no issues in my hundreds of hours of hardcore usage whereby the device would be covered in sweat, pelted by rain or baked in the sun.
There is no doubt in my mind using a heart rate monitor has helped me train better than ever before when doing cardio-based workouts; it has helped me go from a couch-dweller to someone who regularly clocks 50 or more kilometres on the bike in a single cycling session.
For me, this device has the exact set of features I need at a price I was happy to pay (as someone who tends to lean to the frugal side). If you're a swimmer, this may not be the device for you given it is only waterproof to a depth of five feet. But if you're like me and prefer to train above water level, then this device really may be perfect for you, pair it with your favourite exercise app, and you will be ready to take your training to the next level.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.