The Polar FT4 is currently the most popular women’s heart rate monitor on the market, and that warrants a detailed review into its capabilities. First, a quick getting started video guide:
Polar FT4 review –Target heart rate zones
One of the core purposes behind a heart rate monitor is the ability to train within segmented heart rate zones. Heart rate zones are calculated based on your age and gender, and are based on a percentage of your maximum theoretical heart rate. This is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
The FT4 Women’s sports watch enables you to train within your targeted zone easily. You input your basic data into the watch, and it will do the necessary calculations for you. Therefore when you begin your training session, the watch will read your heart rate via the accompanying chest strap and will calculate your heart rate zones.
This data is made all the more accurate by the inclusion of a wireless ECG accurate heart rate belt. This utilises medical technology in order to deliver super accurate readings. This data is showcased either as a percentage of your maximum or as total beats per minute. Post workout you get a reading showing your average and maximum heart rate (the highest peak you’re your HR hit during the session) during your workout.
Polar FT4 review – Calories Calculations
Another core reason for owning a heart rate monitor is to get a slightly more accurate handle on the amount of calories that you are burning during your session. A heart rate monitor provides a slightly more accurate calorie output reading compared to your standard gym equipment, because it knows more about you and it has a constant source of heart rate data coming in.
The Polar FT4 shows you how many calories you have burned and it also showcases the estimated percentage of those calories that have come from fat sources.
The calorie reading element to a sports watch like the FT4 is interesting for non-cardio based workouts. Increasing numbers of women are now embracing weights based training, as well as popular crossfit style workouts. Using a heart rate monitor is a great way to measure your calorie burn during this sort of exercise.
Polar FT4 review: avoiding crossed signals on cardio equipment
Even if your main aim when using your heart rate monitor is to measure the calorie output from non-cardio sessions, as suggested above, you are still going to make use of it in the cardio zone of your local gym.
Historically heart rate monitors have had problems with ‘cross talk’ between different pieces of equipment. In days gone by, you could end up getting a dodgy reading on your machine if the person next to you was also using a heart rate monitor.
Polar have fixed this problem with their patented OwnCode solution, which delivers coded transmissions which prevents cross talk. This is an important consideration when considering which brand of heart rate monitor to go for.
This is not a feature that’s unique to the Polar FT4, it is instead unique to the Polar brand. However similar big rival brands like Garmin have their own technology to avoid this problem, but many of the cheaper ‘unknown’ brands can still
Polar FT4 review: getting the most out of it
Polar provide a training programme guide which users can access at polarpersonaltrainer.com. This is intended to be a detailed workout planning service which means that you may not require a personal trainer any more.
The Polar service helps you with:
- Creating a workout diary, which keeps a log of your key performance indicators over time.
- Analysing your workout to see how well you have done
- Creating customisable endurance training programmes, to help you nail upcoming 5K, 10K and marathon events
- Setting your workout frequency – the Polar service helps you recognise when you have recovered from your last session and when you’re ready to attack the next workout in your programme
BurnTech.TV analysis: What we like
- The price: At the time of writing the Polar FT4 comes in at a highly affordable £55 with an RRP of £75. Polar are providing a lot of sports watch for this money, and we feel that the FT4 has most of the features that more people require for this money.
- The features: very much linked to the price, but we feel that the Polar FT4 offers a nice step up from some of the lower end heart rate monitors. A consistent finding across all Polar products is the quality that they bring to the table. Polar straps are amongst the most comfortable on the market and they work really well. Unlike lower end models which you need to douse in water in order to pick up a signal, Polar straps work without needing to add water.
- Usability: The FT4 is a doddle to use yet has a good range of features, and this is always a welcome combination. You don’t need undue complication whilst in the gym and Polar ensure that everything works well.
- The display: Typical of Polar sports watches in general, the FT4 features a nice large display with easy to read characters in most lights. You don’t want to need reading glasses when glancing at your watch mid-session, so I was glad to see that this watch has a large enough type face to work at a quick glance.
- Design: You don’t have to get the in-vogue (for fit tech) garish colours, you can go neutral if you want. If you fancy the shocking pink colour scheme, then go for it, I’m told it’s all the rage anyway!
BurnTech.TV analysis: Let downs
To nit-pick, this watch is obviously lacking some of the higher end features that I personally like to use. As with everything, you get what you pay for. However, if you’re the sort of trainer who would benefit from the below, then you may need to move up a price bracket:
- If you run outdoors, you may appreciate a GPS tracker. This watch does not include one
- If you want the more enhanced personal trainer features found on the higher tech units, then you will need to look at other options.
- Also, the Polar online tracker requires manual dat input, which can be a bit of a pain. Models from Garmin include automatic sync, but expect to pay much more then £50 for that.
So ultimately, it comes down to what do you need and what do you not need? There are so many heart rate monitors on the market at the moment, and they come in all shapes, sizes and price brackets.
If you are a regular gym goer who would like to take your first steps towards measuring your workouts better, then this £50 model is a good investment. If you’re a super serious outdoor trainer, then it may be that you would benefit from some of the more advanced GPS watches.