Wrist-based versus chest strap heart sensors: which are best for cyclists? Can you trust the data?

Smartwatches and health trackers are getting ever better at measuring your heart rate - but they’re still not perfect

Female cyclist wearing a smartwatch which is tracking her heart rate
(Image credit: Future)

Heart rate monitors are a pretty established technology at this point, and it’s partially for that reason that training with a heart rate monitor is one of the most cost effective ways to boost your cycling fitness. With those objective numbers, it’s easier to ensure you’re training at the right intensity for the adaptations you’re looking to make. You can also get a figure for your overall training load, enabling you to see whether you’re pushing yourself too hard or not hard enough. 

Fortunately, there are many different types of heart rate monitors and models to suit all kinds of riders. The trick is working out which type would actually be the best heart rate monitor for you. 

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Tom Epton
Freelance writer

Tom Epton is a freelance writer and data scientist. Originally training as a scientist after completing his studies in physics he realised that cycling was what he wanted to spend his life thinking about. Now he works with manufacturers, athletes and teams using cutting edge data science methods to find performance gains. Tom writes primarily about sport-science and tech!