Garmin has today announced the release of a chest strap heart rate monitor that’s designed for women. The Garmin HRM-Fit clips to the underband so you can wear it with your favorite running bra.
It’s an important development because electrocardiogram (ECG) chest strap heart rate monitors are much more accurate than the optical wrist monitors found in even the best sports watches, but wearing one with a sports bra is a less-than-ideal arrangement. Wearing two tight bands around the ribcage is a recipe for friction and discomfort. “Whichever way I tried it was annoying,” says ultra runner Rhalou Allerhand about her attempts to wear a chest strap.
While there are sports bras that have built-in connections for ECG heart rate monitors, they’re few and far between. MyZone sells a sports bra that’s compatible with several of its HRMs, but the bra only offers medium support and comes in basic sizes (S-XL) with no adjustability to the shoulder straps. A heart rate monitor that works with any sports bra means you can prioritize getting the right fit.
The Garmin HRM-Fit uses three anchor points to clip onto the underband of any medium- or high-support bra, and transmits your heart rate data to the device of your choice, whether that’s a running watch, cycling computer or a connected cardio machine such as a treadmill or spin bike. There’s no limit to the number of ANT connections, and it can have three Bluetooth connections.
The Garmin HRM-Fit can also measure your heart rate variability, which can indicate if you’re getting ill or overtraining. The monitor tracks running dynamics like cadence and vertical oscillation, as well as tracking running pace and distance, on indoor as well as outdoor runs.
While we haven’t tested this HRM yet, Coach’s senior writer Nick Harris-Fry found the Garmin HRM Pro Plus to be accurate at tracking heart rate and liked the extra running stats tracked, although as with the HRM-Fit these extra stats only work with a compatible Garmin watch.
The HRM-Fit has a 3ATM waterproof rating so it can be used for swimming, with the device storing your data and sending it to compatible devices afterward.
Garmin says the coin battery will last a year of daily use and you won’t need a screwdriver to change it, it opens with a coin.
The HRM-Fit has a suggested retail price of $149.99 in the US and £139.99 in the UK. That’s a little more expensive than Garmin’s HRM Pro Plus ($129.99 / £119.99), and quite a lot more than most other HRMs on the market.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that’s almost as accurate and won’t argue with your sports bra, consider the armband-style optical monitors worn on the upper arm such as the Coros Heart Rate Monitor, which features in Coach’s recommendations of the best heart rate monitors.
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