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Best Heart Rate Monitors for Rowing (2023 Reviewed)

Looking for a great heart rate monitor for rowing?

Most rowing machines have an LCD display that tracks calories. But how accurate is that? Unfortunately, without knowing your weight and your heart rate, it’s not likely you’re getting an accurate representation.

This is why heart rate monitors are so important in tracking calorie, and other important performance data like resting heart rate, average heart rate during workout, and heart rate zones.

Why Heart Rate Monitors Matter for Rowing

Rowing is an intense and physically demanding sport that engages multiple muscle groups and challenges the cardiovascular system. Whether you’re a seasoned rowing pro or a beginner, understanding the importance of heart rate monitors in this sport can significantly enhance your training and overall performance. Let’s delve deeper into why heart rate monitors matter for rowing enthusiasts:

Precise Training Zones

Heart rate monitors act as valuable tools for rowers to train within specific heart rate zones. These zones are based on different percentages of your maximum heart rate and are tailored to achieve specific training objectives. Understanding and training within these zones help optimize your workouts for various purposes:

    • Endurance Training: Rowing within lower heart rate zones enhances your endurance by allowing you to sustain longer, steady-state rows. This type of training is beneficial for building the foundation of cardiovascular fitness required for longer races or endurance challenges.

    • Fat Burning: Training in moderate heart rate zones encourages fat burning during your rowing sessions. By staying within this range, your body primarily relies on fat stores as an energy source, which can be advantageous for those aiming to manage body weight or improve body composition.

    • Anaerobic Conditioning: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves rowing in higher heart rate zones for short bursts, followed by periods of rest or lower intensity. HIIT sessions boost anaerobic conditioning, helping rowers improve power and performance during sprints or race finishes.

Performance Tracking

Monitoring your heart rate during rowing sessions provides invaluable data for tracking your progress over time. By regularly analyzing this data, you can gain insights into how your fitness is evolving, helping you set and achieve realistic goals. Observing trends in your heart rate responses to various training sessions allows you to:

  • Measure Improvement: As you consistently row and train, your heart’s response to exertion will change. By comparing past heart rate data to present readings, you can see concrete evidence of your improved cardiovascular fitness and rowing performance.

  • Identify Plateaus: Plateaus are common in any fitness journey. Through heart rate tracking, you can identify periods where progress stagnates, and then adjust your training regimen or intensity to break through these plateaus.

  • Modify Training Plans: Armed with heart rate data, you can fine-tune your training plans to optimize performance. Whether it’s adjusting your rowing intensity, duration, or incorporating cross-training, the information allows you to make data-driven decisions.

Injury Prevention

Overtraining and pushing yourself beyond safe limits can lead to injuries and setbacks. Heart rate monitors serve as your guardian angels, helping you stay within your target heart rate range and preventing overexertion. By adhering to your optimal heart rate zones, you:

  • Reduce Risk of Overtraining: Training excessively without adequate rest and recovery can lead to fatigue, muscle strain, and burnout. Monitoring your heart rate allows you to recognize signs of overtraining, encouraging you to take necessary breaks and prevent injuries.

  • Avoid Straining Your Heart: While rowing is an excellent cardiovascular workout, pushing your heart too hard for extended periods can be detrimental. Heart rate monitors help you strike a balance between pushing yourself and keeping your heart within a safe range.

  • Prevent Muscle Imbalances: Staying within appropriate heart rate zones ensures you don’t overload specific muscle groups, reducing the risk of muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.

The Best Heart Rate Monitors for Rowing

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar Heart Rate Monitor for rowing
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This is, by far, the best strap monitor. The H10 is accurate, works great with Polar Flow, Polar Beat and Elite HRV...


The Polar H10 is a heart rate sensor and soft strap that utilizes advanced materials and optimized construction for consistent and accurate heart rate measurement.

It is compatible with various sports and smart watches, fitness apps, and cardio equipment. It has been widely recognized for its high precision by multiple sources and is commonly used by professional athletes.

The device features Bluetooth, ANT+, and 5 kHz connectivity options, and the chest strap has improved electrodes, an easy-to-use buckle, and silicone dots for comfort and secure placement.

The Polar H10 is suitable for a variety of activities and is fully waterproof with internal memory for one training session.

the Smart Coaching feature which delivers motivating feedback, calculates your smart calories based on personal height, weight, age and max HR, measures your aerobic fitness

It’s versatile and works with nearly all connected devices.

Garmin HRM-Pro Premium Heart Rate Strap

best heart rate monitor for rowing
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This HRM from Garmin is on the pricey side but so worth it. The battery life and connection to my garmin Fenix is un matched by my previous polar set up. If you are new to fitness and want to track your progress the Garmin Fenix and the pro HRM are exactly what you need to start a new year building a new you.

This Premium heart rate strap transmits real-time heart rate data via ANT technology and BLUETOOTH Low Energy technology to communicate with Garmin devices, compatible fitness equipment and online training apps, such as Zwift.

If you’re also a runner, you’ll probably like runner dynamics – metrics that measure things like stride length and ground contact. Sure – more bells and whistles than the standard heart-rate monitor, but still a neat feature.

One thing that’s cool, is that it stores workout data, even if you are not synced to a device. Then, the next time you sync with your Garmin, the data is available.

I would say, even though it can sync with other devices, it’s best if you also have a Garmin.

The small, lightweight heart rate monitoring module is no wider than the width of the soft, comfortable strap

Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor

Polar h7 best hear rate monitor for rowing
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I purchased the Polar H7 to replace a worn-out Polar chest strap. So far, I am very happy with its ability to pair with devices (Android phone & tablet ) in addition to my existing Polar training computer. The strap is very comfortable. A real selling point for me was the replaceable battery.

The Polar H7 heart rate sensor connects to your smart device (iPhone 4S or higher, iPod Touch 5th generation or higher, iPad 3rd generation or higher, iPad mini and Android devices using os 4.3 or later) using Bluetooth Smart, keeping the battery drain low on both devices.

The H7’s soft fabric chest strap is nice and flexible, and adapts to your body shape, bringing full freedom of movement. When used together you can gain access to even more of the app’s features, including smart calorie tracking, Sports Zones for finding the right intensity for your workout, and deeper analysis of your workout’s training benefit. Polar H7 can also communicate with Polar compatible fitness equipment & Polar 5kHz training computers.

One thing I like about it, is that the battery is changeable by the user, rather than going to the manufacturer or having to purchase a new one.

Fitbit Inspire 3

Best heart rate monitor rowing fitbit inspire
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Really glad I bought it. The size is perfect and I think it looks great. The interface design is also good looking. NEVER been a watch wearer, but now I only take this thing off to shower. Doesn’t bother me while sleeping at all. The options for display and functional settings are excellent. The screen is very small, but it works great for checking notifications. It has really motivated me to be more active and monitor my heart health.

I’ll only mention one wrist based heart rate monitor on this post and that is the Fitbit inspire 3. The functionality, the style, and 24/7 heart rate makes it a great companion for any workouts – especially rowing workouts. It’s a watch, so you don’t have to remind yourself to throw on your heart rate monitor before your workout, then wait for the sync.

For the price, it is packed full of features – including a free 6-month premium membership for deeper insights, guidance and exclusive workouts.

Although It’s not as accurate as a chest strap, It’s dang close.

How to Choose a Heart Rate Monitor for Rowing

With a myriad of options available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following factors when choosing the perfect heart rate monitor for your needs:


Before making a purchase, ensure that the heart rate monitor you’re considering is compatible with both your rowing machine and smartphone. Seamless data synchronization between these devices can provide a comprehensive overview of your workouts and progress. Look for heart rate monitors with Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, as they offer versatile compatibility options.

    • Rowing Machine Compatibility: Check if the heart rate monitor can connect and communicate with your specific rowing machine’s monitoring system. Compatibility ensures that you can easily track and analyze your heart rate data during rowing sessions.

    • Smartphone Compatibility: Verify that the heart rate monitor is compatible with your smartphone’s operating system (iOS or Android). This allows you to use various rowing apps to track and analyze your performance, providing valuable insights for improvement.


Comfort is paramount during rowing sessions, especially for longer workouts or races. Look for heart rate monitors that come with comfortable and secure straps, ensuring they stay in place without causing discomfort or chafing. A comfortable strap allows you to focus solely on your rowing performance without distractions.

      • Chest Strap Design: Many heart rate monitors utilize chest straps for accurate readings. Opt for soft, adjustable straps that fit snugly but not too tight. The right fit ensures accurate heart rate data while minimizing any discomfort.

      • Water Resistance: As rowing involves sweat and, in some cases, splashes of water, choose a heart rate monitor with water-resistant properties. A water-resistant design ensures the device remains functional and durable even in wet conditions.


Accurate heart rate tracking is crucial for gaining reliable insights into your training intensity and progress. To ensure you’re investing in a monitor with precise readings, read reviews from other rowers and fitness enthusiasts who have used the device. Look for heart rate monitors that are well-regarded for their accuracy and consistency.

      • Sensor Technology: Advanced heart rate monitors often utilize ECG-based sensor technology, which is known for its accuracy in tracking heart rate data. Consider models with this technology for more reliable results.


Heart rate monitors come with various features beyond basic heart rate tracking. Depending on your preferences and training goals, consider additional features that could enhance your rowing experience:

      • Motion Tracking: Some heart rate monitors incorporate motion sensors to track your rowing movements. This feature can provide insights into your rowing technique and help you refine your form.

      • Calorie Estimation: If you’re conscious about calorie burn during workouts, look for monitors that estimate calories burned based on heart rate data and other factors like age, weight, and gender.

      • App Compatibility: Check if the heart rate monitor is compatible with popular rowing apps or fitness platforms you may want to use for tracking and analyzing your data.


Set a budget for your heart rate monitor purchase and explore options that fall within that range. While it’s tempting to opt for the most feature-rich and expensive monitor, prioritize quality and accuracy above all else. Strike a balance between the features you need and the budget you’ve set.

  • Value for Money: Consider the heart rate monitor’s overall value for money based on its features, accuracy, durability, and compatibility. A slightly higher upfront investment in a reliable heart rate monitor can pay off in the long run with improved training outcomes.



Including the perfect heart rate monitor for your rowing needs involves thoughtful consideration of compatibility, comfort, accuracy, features, and price. Take the time to research and read reviews to ensure you’re making an informed decision. Remember, a well-suited heart rate monitor will not only enhance your rowing performance but also provide valuable insights that drive you closer to achieving your fitness goals. So, select your ideal heart rate monitor and elevate your rowing experience to new heights. Happy rowing!

Grant O

Grant O

Grant Ongstad is a father of 3, ex-personal trainer, and the founder of Healthy Dad Project.