Among the heart-rate monitors that earn the most kudos from experts and users, the Timex Ironman Race Trainer (*Est. $100) is named our Best Reviewed model. However, some close runners-up deserve consideration as well, and some might even be a better fit for certain users.
The Ironman Race Trainer has all of the necessary features to effectively supplement anyone's workout, and professional and consumer reviews alike praise its quality build. Synchronizing with the included chest strap, the heart-rate monitor is accurate and its display uses large-format digits that are easy to read during exercise. With a water resistance rated to 100 meters -- significantly more than the typical 30 meters -- it's also a great choice for swimmers.
One of the Race Trainer's more popular features is a 50-lap chronograph for interval timing. A chronograph combines a stopwatch with a regular watch, allowing for the recording of data such as heart rate per lap as well as overall. Tracking interval workouts would be next to impossible without it. The monitor can save up to 10 workouts, and upload them to a computer and the TrainingPeaks.com website where users can track their overall progress and save unlimited training data. Data upload requires the Timex Data Xchanger module, which is part of an optional Ironman Race Trainer Kit (*Est. $50) .
One area where the Timex Ironman Race Trainer falls short is its lack of virtual trainer features. Users must create and track their own workouts, making this monitor better for experienced users than novices. That's compounded by the fact that the unit can be tricky to set up initially.
If these issues concern you, the Polar RS300X (*Est. $100) , might be worth a look. Although its reviews aren't quite as strong as the Race Trainer's, the RS300X includes interval training capabilities and a personal trainer feature to help set up your workouts. Like the Ironman heart-rate monitor, you can upload data to a website, which again requires the purchase of an optional module.
If your budget is a little larger, you might consider our Best Reviewed heart-rate monitor for serious athletes, the Polar FT60 (*Est. $150) . This advanced unit lacks the Ironman Race Trainer's interval timing ability, but is easy to use and boasts a sophisticated training feature that works with the wearer to create the ideal workout program. The FT60 is profiled below.