Road Test: Is the Polar V800 the BEST Heart Rate Monitor?

Fitness // Chooky Biordi // 20 August 2014

Is the Polar V800: a fashion statement and classy time piece, or a heart rate monitor and hi-tech computer?

I like big watches – and the display screen of the gleaming, black and silver Polar V800 is almost bigger than the width of my wrist. But this ain’t no simple watch.

Why the Polar V800 is Hot

The Polar V800 training computer is a one-stop device – and I feel a little sad for the other devices I’ve employed to keep me accountable up until now. Here’s why:

–       In conjunction with a chest strap and Bluetooth heart sensor, you can track intensity, calorie burn, training load (and monitor strain on the body), duration and recovery status of your workouts.

–       GPS and altimeter features capture your distance, pace and route plus highs and lows of your journey.

–       Wear it 24/7 for your Polar V800 to act as an activity AND sleep tracker.

–       Water resistant to 30m it tracks heart rate while swimming. Whoop!

–       It has don’t-miss-it vibration and audio alerts …

–       And tap gestures!

–       Strong and durable, it’s comfortable to wear (aside from the size).

–       There are multi-sport capabilities and transition time monitoring …

–       AND interval trainer-guided workouts and automatic lap recording.

If a simple heart rate monitor helps you get the most out of your training (see how here), imagine how these other benefits can help you smash every fitness goal you’ve ever had.

Getting into the Polar Flow

The Getting Started Guide assures me the “Polar V800 is a great training device by itself” but I’ll get much more if I “use it together with the Polar Flow web service and mobile app”.

Within five minutes I’m a bona fide member of the Polar Flow community, where my workouts are diarised and analysed in clear format. I can also opt to make my efforts public via a member feed, which is so intriguing I follow the global sweat trail in real time. People are pushing fitness boundaries all over the place in pursuit of awesomeness.

I. Am. Motivated!

The Polar Road Test

Perfectly geared up for the triathlete, the sport profiles of running, swimming, and cycling are pre-loaded and ready to go. But, since I’m about to hit the gym, I select Other Indoor.

At the end of the session, my training load, training benefit, heart rates, calories, fat burn, and recovery status for the workout can be viewed, downloaded and analysed.

Another click reveals this cute spiel: “Good pace! You improved your aerobic fitness and the endurance of your muscle. This session also developed your ability to sustain high intensity effort for longer.”

Hitting Zone 5 intensity consumes me and in another session, busting Mish’s Interval Sprints on the treadmill does the trick, but swinging a few kettlebells hits the mark in record time. It also hits other marks, proving the Polar display is scratchproof AND smashproof.

Oh, and mid leg press I remember the HeartTouch feature, where the display lights up when you bring the V800 close to the heart sensor. Disco lights!

After the gym machines, Polar V800 notes: “What a session! You significantly improved your aerobic fitness and your ability to sustain high intensity effort for longer. This session also developed your speed and efficiency.” Yesss!

Heart Rate Monitor for Land and Water

Pounding the pavement unearths more surprises – the GPS and altimeter track my jogging route, pace, distance AND records my altitude. Occasionally it buzzes, although I’m not sure if it’s because I’m running too fast or too slow. Whatever the case, it made me kick up my heels more!

The HeartTouch and generous display are most impressive in water. I can see the value of the strap and Bluetooth heart sensor for swimmers in stormy conditions, and I admit more time was spent underwater ogling this than clocking up lengths!

Polar Pros and Cons

A downside of the large display is struggling to get in and out of long sleeves. I prefer to wear it 24/7 to capture all activities, so had a daily wrestle with my winter threads.

It’s also a bit heavy for my wrist – especially jogging outdoors – so it’s perfect for guys and taller frames.

So, does size REALLY matter? Yes, in a good way. I love the huge display – a quick, sweaty glance is all that’s needed to check your stats. The size and weight issues don’t stack up against what V800 offers in function and analysable data.

Teamed with the online Polar Flow features, this stats geek can’t get enough!

If data is your thing, and you’re serious about running and cycling, I’d recommend the Polar Stride, Polar Speed and Polar Cadence Sensor Bluetooth Smart accessories to pump your training.

If you love to get hi-tech with your fitness, check out other 12WBT recommended fitness apps and gadgets.

In conclusion? My Christmas wish list just got bigger!! Santa, you can buy my new Polar V800 here or here, starting at about $500.

Sign up for 12WBT today and customise an Exercise Plan to help you smash your fitness goals and be the healthiest, best version of yourself EVER!

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