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Polar F55 Heart Rate Monitor Watch

Polar F55 heart rate monitor watchThe F55 is one of Polar's very popular heart rate monitor watches, and is an upgraded version of another popular model, the F11. Essentially, it adds to the F11 the ability to connect to other devices via a standard infra-red port. It also adds Polar OwnRelax, which determines how relaxed the user has become after a period of exercise, and Polar Body Workout, which offers strength training suggestions. It carries a recommended retail price of $239.95, but can usually be bought much more cheaply.

You can find full specifications at the Polar website. Here are some brief details:

The Polar F55 heart rate monitor gives you a complete exercise session by adding new features like BodyWorkout and OwnRelax. This powerful wrist monitor provides a highly accurate gauge for getting the most from your exercise sessions. The Polar Keeps U Fit Workout Program gives you personal guidance--how often, how hard, and how long you need to exercise to reach your personal fitness goals.

The Polar Body Workout feature provides basic guidance for muscular strength training, with recommendations for strength training movements, count of sets, repetitions, and weights. It can be edited according to your development. The OwnRelax feature helps to track and improve overall well being with a 5-minute relaxation session based on heart rate and heart rate variability.

The OwnCal feature shows your energy expenditure during one exercise session as well as your accumulated kilocalories during several exercise sessions. It also allows you to set daily and weekly exercise goals in terms of calorie expenditure. The OwnZone feature guides you through an appropriate warm-up routine and automatically determines a safe and effective exercise heart rate. The Fitness Bullets feature shows a bullet on the monitor's display for every 10 minutes spent exercising/training in your target heart rate zone. Other features include:

* Displays heart rate, exercise time and average heart rate
* Manual and automatic heart rate limit settings
* Large easy-to-read display with backlighting and split screen
* Water resistant to 30 meters (100 feet)

I have not been able to find online any independent reviews of the F55. However, sales sites like Amazon.com offer many reviews from actual customers, detailing their experiences, and these often provide excellent guidance.

Here are a couple:

* I have used this monitor for just a week and already find it the best addition I have ever made to my fitness program. Simply put, this unit will automatically take care of the M&M's of personal training. Measure and motivate. Very simple learning curve. Once your up to speed on the buttons the Polar does the rest. Want to see how many calories you have burned? No problem. Want to maintain your cardio level. Simply done.

Using this monitor will take anyone seriously interested in their fitness to the next level. I would rate it higher then 5 stars if possible.

Also the Polar personal training web-site is a very good resource to track your data and progress. The nice part is that the Polar personal trainer comes along at no additional charge.

* I have been using the Polar F55 about a week now, and at this point think it's a great product, though it has many features I do not use.

First off, the basic functionality is great - the strap is comfortable, and after adjustment I can wear it without really feeling it or having it come loose even when I'm doing weights. Both the wrist unit and the gym equipment I've used it on (elliptical and treadmill) read my heart rate without interruption.

The advanced functions are... advanced. I had to read the instructions to figure out how to work the unit, but was able to figure (almost) everything out after doing so, the remaining exception being my inability to figure out how to rename exercise sessions. The features I found most useful were the fitness test, which calculates your VO2, and the personalized exercise program. There's also a body workout which I thought fairly useless, as all it does is show you muscle group and sets (it's also a single program, you can't have two different programs for alternate days).

One thing I was curious about was the accuracy of the calorie expenditure calculation; I was initially puzzled by how it could figure this out just from my heart rate and statistics. I did some googling, however, and found that heart rate is proportional to oxygen use; it turns out several groups, including some sponsored by Polar, have researched how to derive energy expenditure from heart rate and the calculation is fairly accurate overall. I checked the calculated calories on the F55 against the calories calculated by an elliptical machine (which knows energy use) on a 45-minute workout and the Polar was within 4% of the elliptical.

I think the best feature for me is the ability to continuously calculate and record heart rate and energy expenditure; without the F55 I only knew how many calories I was burning when I was on the cardio equipment, now I can record this during my weight sessions and other exercises. This, along with the ability to upload and keep track of my exercises and fitness level, will make the F55 used long after I get bored with all the extra bells and whistles it has.

Edit: Two months later, I am still using it and loving it - it keeps me honest when doing weights and records my last 26 sessions so I can keep track of my workouts on the Polar web site. Still puzzled as to why some features were included. (Lunar phase indicator? Why? So people who need the moon to run can plan their running during the day?) But I just ignore the things I don't use.

* Get the Latest Price on the Polar F55 Heart Rate Monitor Watch. Also, check out the Polar Store at Amazon.com for special offers and promotions, as well as user reviews and information on new products.

See also my Guide to Buying the Best Heart Rate Monitor.

Updated November 16th, 2009

 

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