The FT4 HRM is comprised of two parts: the training computer and the heart rate sensor. The sensor is essentially a little black box that gets attached to a black strap with electrodes that is worn around your chest. Believe me, it sounds much scarier and techie than it actually is. I was a bit nervous about that part when I first saw it, but it’s so easy to use. All you have to do is moisten the electrodes, strap it just below your chest, clip the sensor in with the Polar logo right side up and voila! It’s comfortable, doesn’t get in the way of my sports bra, and I honestly forget I’m wearing it.
Next we have the training computer, which is the pretty pink and purple watch. Out of the box, the computer has you input all sorts of fun information like gender, height, weight, etc, using the buttons on the side to increase or decrease numbers and move between screens. As you can see, most of the buttons do double duty depending on what you are trying to do or information you want to access.
Once all of that necessary information is set and you have the sensor and strap on, you’re all ready to start working out! By hitting the “Train” button on the side, you’ll see that the watch is analyzing your current heart rate. With that in place, hit the button again and it will start recording your workout.
While working out, the watch transmits various information, such as current heart rate, calories burned, how long you’ve been working out and if your heart rate is in the suggested zone. You can use the buttons on the side of the watch to flip through the screens. I appreciate that for Calories Burned & Current Heart Rate the numbers are large sized so I don’t have to squint to read them.
Remembering what each button represents took some practice only because when I’m in my building’s mini gym or on the treadmill, I can’t exactly look it up in the instruction booklet. But the more I use the Polar FT4 HRM, the easier it becomes to know which buttons I need to push.
If you need to stop, push the Back button and it will Pause the computer. Push it again to completely stop transmitting information. Once your workout is finished and you stopped the recording, a screen will pop up with your total time and calories burned, like the picture up above.
|Ooops. Apparently put wrong year. Good thing it’s easy to go back into
settings and change the information!
Each workout is saved in your Training Files (accessed using the Data button) so you can go back and look at previous workout logs. There is even a handy dandy graph that compares and shows how many calories you’ve burned over the course of several days.
Now that I’m training for a 10K and will start training for my half-marathon in July, accurate calorie control becomes essential. The 834 calories burned up above was from a morning of treadmill and elliptical, with 600 calories burned on the treadmill alone (I ran for an hour, people. An hour). Thing is, I can’t run as fast on the treadmill as I can outside and apps can’t recognize effort when the information is being manually entered from a machine workout. So when I input the information into, say, Runkeeper, all they see is that a 180 lb 5’5″ woman ran 3.2 miles in 56 minutes and according to their algorithm that translates to 300 calories, half what my HRM gave me. (I haven’t yet had an opportunity to run outside with the HRM: Runkeeper gives you a calorie count if you use the GPS so it will be interesting to see how those numbers compare when I get a chance.)
On the flip side, MyFitnessPal overestimates calories burned in yoga. Which makes sense: yoga isn’t about exercise but meditation, so the heart rate is kept low, even in a physical style like Ashtanga. (Of course, wear it in something like Bikram and it might be different.)
I’m going to go ahead and say it: If I could marry my Polar FT4 HRM, I would. That’s how much I love it. Not only is it easy to use, it’s an excellent motivational tool. While working out, I’ll keep an eye on my current heart rate and if it’s on the low end of the zone I’ll step it up a notch. It also works to actually get me to get out of bed and workout as I want to see how many calories I can burn with various activities (over 200 with kettlebells? Seriously?).
Someone asked me if it’s something that can be worn all day to get a long term calorie reading and while I suppose you could, that’s not really its purpose. For that, I’d say something like FitBit is more what you’re looking for. But If you’re in the market for a heart rate monitor and don’t want anything super fancy (because Polar USA has many, many products with a range of tools and uses) or if you just want a clearer idea of how many calories you’re burning through fitness, I highly recommend the Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor Watch.
Anyone else use a Heart Rate Monitor for working out? What’s your favorite part about having one? Disclaimer: I was not compensated in anyway for this review nor did Polar ask me to write one. I just love this lil device so much. All opinions are my own.
Love from the ashes,