Polar H10 review: is this heart rate monitor the perfect running accessory?

WE review the Polar H10 heart rate monitor to see if it can improve our workouts.

Read on to see what we thought of the popular fitness accessory.

*If you click on a link in this piece, we may earn affiliate revenue

Pros

  • Comfortable and easy to wear
  • Reliable in use
  • Waterproof
  • Long battery life
  • Detailed data

Cons

  • Has trouble switching modes
  • Difficult to sync workout data

  • Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, £73.44 at Amazon – buy here

Polar H10 review: quick summary

The Polar H10 is often held up as the gold standard of heart rate monitors for good reason. 

It’s a comfortable wear and provides detailed workout data in an easy-to-digest format on your phone.

I trust it to deliver heart rate data far more accurately than a wrist-based tracker too, so if you’re taking your training seriously, it’s a must.

It does have weaknesses though: while the H10 can both livestream your heart rate data to your smartphone (and some smart watches) or store your data internally until you’re ready to sync later, switching between the modes can lead to short-term connectivity issues.

Plus, if you record multiple workouts in a row to the internal storage, it can take a bit of work to get everything synced back to your phone.

Neither of these issues are deal-breakers, but I’ve spent some time pre- and post-workout being frustrated by them.

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Polar H10: full review

You might be wondering why, when your smart watch/fitness tracker already offers you heart rate data, you need a chest-strap heart rate monitor.

The answer is simple: chest strap heart rate monitors are much more accurate than wrist-based devices, especially when you’re busting a gut during your workouts.

If you look online for a heart rate monitor suitable for workouts, it won’t take you long to stumble upon the Polar H10, which boasts a large stable of athletes ready to endorse it.

And it’s easy to see why, in my opinion.

Getting started

Setting up your Polar H10 for the first time is a pretty seamless process. Simply attach the monitor to the chest strap, splash a bit of water on the conductive piece of the strap and attach it around your chest.

If you want the monitor to feed data back to your phone, download the Polar Beat app first and set up a quick profile and from there you can sync the H10 to the app.

The H10 is compatible with a number of smart watches as well, including Apple, Garmin and, of course, Polar.

That way you can get accurate heart rate data displayed on your smart watch in real-time, which can be real benefit depending on the type of training you’re doing. I’ll come back to that later.

In general, I found the H10 easily synced to my devices with minimal fuss.

  • Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, £73.44 at Amazon – buy here

To save, or not to save

When using the H10 through the Polar Beat app, you can choose to either sync your data in real time or save your workout to the H10 to sync later.

If you run with your phone, you’ll be fine doing the former, but if you’re working out and planning to leave the Bluetooth range of your phone (while playing team sport, for instance) being able to save your data directly the H10 is a useful feature.

However, in switching between these two modes I did find an issue: sometimes the transition meant I had faff around disconnecting and reconnecting the H10 to the Bluetooth on my phone before it would give me the option to record a workout.

I usually resolved the issue in a minute or two, but it was a little inconvenience I could have done without.

Also, when I had saved multiple workouts to the H10, I sometimes had to play around with the modes (and maybe disconnect and reconnect to Bluetooth) before I’d be prompted to sync the data to my phone. I never lost data this way, but getting the workouts to sync definitely could be easier.

Smart watches

I also combined the H10 monitor with my Polar Vantage M smart watch, which meant that not only could I get accurate heart rate data displayed on my watch throughout a workout/run, I could get GPS data too. No more phones on the run for me!

This feature worked brilliantly and meant I was able to easily monitor my heart rate during long runs.

Syncing the H10 to my smart watch initially was a very simple process. However, I did find that when the H10 was connected to my phone at the same time as the watch, the watch would revert to its optical (aka inaccurate) heart rate monitoring, which was frustrating and meant I found it easier to have the H10 connected to only one device at a time.

  • Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, £73.44 at Amazon – buy here

Heart rate zones

One of the niftier things you can do with Polar heart rate tracking is commit to a polar training programme. I’m currently signed up to a marathon training programme and, as opposed to other plans which rely on distance and/or time spent pounding the pavement, Polar’s programme involves running in specific heart rate zones.

This usually means running at a slower pace than you might be used to for your longer runs, along with some interval training built in to work on your top end speed.

The premise behind the training plan is that it’ll help you avoid overtraining, making it less likely you’ll pick up wear and tear in the build up to your race. Touch wood, I’ve avoided injuries to this point in the training plan, so I’d call that a success.

The H10 heart rate tracker combined with a Polar smart watch made for a perfect combination to monitor heart rate zones on the run, and makes the training programme feel very scientific and tailored to my own fitness levels.

This could be worth giving a go if you struggle with conventional training plans.

Polar H10 review: the verdict

The Polar H10 has become part of my training regime so much that barely a week goes by that I don’t end up wearing it multiple times.

That’s partly down to the fact I use it to guide my marathon training, but I’ve also used it to accompany plenty of other workouts and sport sessions.

If you’re a dedicated trainer, you’ll appreciate getting a feel for how hard you’re working each week and when it’s maybe time to give yourself a break (or push yourself a little bit harder!).

If you’re training hard for a distance race, a triathlon (it’s waterproof for your swimming sessions), or you’ve got dedicated fitness goals for the sport of your choice, the Polar H10 is an obvious buy. 

It provides quick, accurate data to your wrist once paired to the watch of your choice.

Yes, the various pairing issues were frustrating, but through frequent use, I found ways to massage out the kinks and ultimately, I don’t find I miss out on any of its features (although be prepared to get used to this for a little while).

I expect to be using the Polar H10 as part of my weekly training routine for a long time to come.

  • Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, £73.44 at Amazon – buy here

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