Choosing a Heart Rate Monitor

Fitness // 12WBT Staff

As a follow up to our story on using a heart rate monitor, 12WBT helps you take the guesswork out choosing the device that works for you. We road-tested three different models. 12WBT Acquisition and Retention Manager Fleur Fletcher was our test runner, while 12WBT running coach Greta Truscott analysed the results. 

What we were looking for

“At 12WBT, we want you to aim for between 65 and 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate when you are training,” says Greta. Fleur is 29 years old, so her maximum heart rate (MHR) is 220 – 29 = 191 beats per minute. Her target heart rate (THR) is between (191 x 0.65) 124.15BPM and (191 x 0.85) 162.35BPM.

Fleur road-tested three Polar heart rate monitors: the mid-level FT60 and the RC3 GPS. She ran at a comfortable pace for 200 metres wearing each one.

Here’s what we found…


Watch Test 2. Polar FT60 (Female)

The FT60 is for the committed exerciser who’s looking for a heart rate monitor that delivers more than just the basics. The Star Training Program sets out weekly targets and provides feedback on your training.

Product features:
• Store up to 100 training files on the watch and follow your long-term training
• Exercise summary shows duration of workout, maximum and average heart rate for the session, time spent in heart rate zone and calories burnt
• Polar Star personalized training program delivers feedback and weekly training targets
• ZonePointer feature is a visible and moving symbol that helps you reach the desired intensity/pace
• Water resistant to 30m
• RRP $229.00; 12WBT Shop price: $194.65

Fleur’s stats on the Polar FT60:

• Duration: 00:00:52
• Average heart rate: 116bpm
• Maximum heart rate: 152bpm
• Calories: 7
• Calories from fat: 13%
• Intensity:
1 (50-60% of MHR): 00:00:09
2 (60-70% of MHR): 00:00:00
3 (70-80% of MHR): 00:00:43

Fleur could see that she made her THR and maintained it (intensity zone 3) for 43 seconds, which was most of her “workout” time. She could see that she burned 7 calories, and could be sure that 13% of those were from fat stores.

“If you’d like more than just the bare essentials and to be able to set training targets, but you’re not too worried about how much distance you’re covering – which you’ll have to guess without a GPS – the FT60 is a great choice.”

Watch test 3. Polar RC3 GPS


The brand new RC3 GPS is for recreational runners who want integrated GPS with smart guidance.

Product features:

• Training Benefit gives you instant feedback after your session
• Tracks your route, speed and distance using built-in GPS
• Running index scores your performance
• Slim and lightweight design with rechargeable battery
• Back to Start means you can try new routes without getting lost
• Automatic lap recording
• Sport profiles (three fixed sport profiles)
• Number of laps – 99
• RRP: $399

Fleur’s stats as shown by the Polar RC3 GPS:

• Starting heart rate: 95bpm
• Duration: 00:00:52
• Average heart rate: 117bpm (61%)
• Maximum heart rate: 152bpm (80%)
• Minimum heart rate: 95bpm (49%)
• Calories: 7
• Calories from fat: 14%
• Sporting zones:
1 (50-60% of MHR): 00:00:05
2 (60-70% of MHR): 00:00:09
3 (70-80% of MHR): 00:00:38
• Distance: 0.21km
• Average pace: 5:02 min/km
• Maximum pace: 4:58min/km
• Laps: N/A because run too short but available info includes best lap, average lap, and lap time and split time for each lap

On the Polar RC3 GPS Fleur could see not only how long she was at THR (80 percent of the time) and how much stored fat she had burned, she could clock how far and fast she’d run.

Greta’s verdict: ADVANCED GPS
“This is a much more advanced heart rate monitor. If you’re aiming for a personal best (PB) time in your training sessions or events, to really push your pace or your distance, or to measure accurately how many kilometres you’re doing per session, you need a heart rate monitor with GPS.”

Now you know how to put your heart into your workout, there’ll be no stopping you.

To reach new levels with your running and get expert advice that will help you reach your fitness goals, try one of 12WBT’s running specific programs – Learn to Run, 10km Training or Half Marathon Training program.