Fitbit Sense vs Apple Watch Series 6 watch faces displays 1

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The promise of fitness trackers is, in itself, to quantify and optimize fitness. Some activities are always better than no activity, but getting the best results means knowing how many calories and nutrients you are consuming and learning to work harder, better, and faster. Before you take your device from Fitbit, Samsung, or Polar devices, it’s important to know that all important followers are upside down for cardio workouts.

We need to keep in mind that “bias” in this case does not mean that the company is unfair or deliberate. Rather, the followers (and their Android and iPhone apps) are optimized for the cards first. Yoga and strength training are common ways to do activities, but the value of fitness followers is diminished for them.

For our purposes, we will further define cardio as a result of workouts such as running, walking, or cycling, and to a lesser extent, things like ellipticals, rowing machines, or fighting ropes. While most workouts will make your heart beat faster, cardio is the main goal.

Fitness tracker problem # 1: Motion sensors

garmin venu 2 review look steps calories

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

With a few chest straps and other exceptions, most followers are equipped with a gyroscope. Comparing live data with expected patterns allows for repetitive movements, such as running and walking. Fitbit, for example, calculates the “steps” of the carrier based on the movement it makes.

Counting steps can be a helpful metric for the average person. However, they are easily falsified, and even when someone is completely honest, followers often tell the wrong story. In fact, companies have already begun to move to different metrics, such as active minutes. Serious runners don’t pay any attention to their steps – they’re more concerned with pace, efficiency, heart rate and oxygen levels.

If gyroscopes aren’t as reliable for running as easy as running, this makes them even less suitable for complex activities like dancing or those with little wrist movement, such as pull-ups. Barbell squats and bench presses are also difficult to keep up with consistently because lifters use different handles and ranges. Some companies make efforts in this regard (Garmin, for example, allows people to track sets and repetitions), but this data should usually be corrected later, removing any conveniences. It’s often easier to jot things down on paper.

Issue 2: Your heartbeat doesn’t tell you everything

OnePlus Watch reviews heart rate tracking

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The only type of sensor with universal value is a heartbeat. Combined with details like age and weight, a properly worn optical or EKG sensor can give you the image of a good performance and calorie burning front yard. In fact, many people do something in what is called zone training that they try to keep their heart within target range. Fitbit, Garmin and Polar watches, in particular, fulfill the concept of the zone.

Many activities are not valid for zone training, however, and wrist-based heart rate sensors are less accurate when intensity is lowered and points are reached, such as starting in a 300-pound deadlift after a 60-second break. Some high-level wrist-based HR sensors can keep up with more accurate chest waves, but this is a rare case.

Heart rate also does not fully measure performance in many cases. Weightlifting is of most concern for strength and lifting, while activities such as yoga and pilates are all about mobility and endurance.

See also: The best heart rate monitors and clocks

It can’t be stressed enough that in the case of calories, even the best HR sensors – EKG units in chest straps, usually the most accurate choice for consumers – can provide roughly the same. Many factors decide how to burn calories around the world, so followers often lose hundreds of calories, making a difference if someone is trying to gain or lose weight. The calculation may be useful, but only as a starting point for personal adjustments, which is especially true for people who act outside the cardio sphere.

Issue 3: The changing nature of people’s demand

Kettlebell juggling

Very shy attempt with Kettlebell juggling!

All device manufacturers grow or die according to consumer demand. Given the finite resources, then it makes sense to target products to the largest demographic. The result of fitness trackers is that they are marketed to cardio enthusiasts – there are more people running, walking and cycling than those who pump iron. That is, people are more concerned about losing weight or overall heart health than things like strength or flexibility.

All device manufacturers grow or die according to consumer demand.

The impact of this can be seen not only on hardware specifications, but also on apps like Apple Fitness and Google Fit, which prioritize cardio activities. The former encourages people to close their daily Move rings, and Fit gives users “Heart Points”. Some apps take it a step further and assume that your goal should be to lose weight. Polar Flow, for example, will regularly penalize you if your weight increases. It doesn’t matter if most of those extra 10 pounds are lean.

Does anyone try to work around cardiac bias?

Garmin Forerunner 55 review vs coros pace 2 2

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Beyond Garmin, perhaps Coros is making the best effort to deal with the situation. The fitness gear of the latest outfit allows people to build strength training structured through a mobile app, as well as a selection of individual muscle groups through a series of exercises. This, in fact, addresses a more important concern than the recounting of repetitions. The workout ensures that all muscles grow often enough. Coros devices start at $ 200 for the Pace 2, although the cheapest model with a touch screen (by no means necessary) is the $ 500 Apex Pro.

Read: Garmin, Polar, Coros, etc. are the best racing watches you can buy

Efforts have been made in very niches, such as the $ 495 Flex barbell sensor. One of the oldest followers of wrist-based strength came from the Atlas Wearables in Austin, but his products never went down as a solo business. That could be about to change – it was bought by Atlas Peloton in March 2021 and Bloomberg reported that the company is developing an armrest that will match Peloton’s cycles and ribbon strips. Although the focus should obviously be cardiac, Peloton integrates some strength work and can use Atlas algorithms.

Recommended followers for cardio-free workouts

Polar chest strap

Coros ’Pace 2 and Apex Pro are logical options for people focused on the forces they want to follow in their watch career. If you don’t need a new watch and / or aren’t interested in strength, it may be easier (for fitness first people) to choose a chest strap or armband. The gold standard on the chest straps is the Polar H10, a model that supports Bluetooth and ANT + connections and can store data in a single session, so you don’t have to hold your phone close. Because it is a few years old, it can be found regularly under the $ 90 price tag.

Optical wristbands are just as accurate as chest straps but are usually more comfortable and can be a happy support for people who want to keep their wrists free. Polar is once again the leader in this field with $ 90 Verity Sense, which can store 600 hours of data and can be cut into swimming goggles to monitor heart rate from the temple. A solid alternative is Scosche’s $ 90 Rhythm + 2.0, with no memory but a 24-hour rechargeable battery.

In reality, while there is a decent HR sensor, most people can pair it with a standard wrist-based tracker or smartwatch, especially if non-fitness features are a priority. It’s all about recognizing the sides and adapting to them, which is something that all fitness products require at the moment. It may take a few more years for the hardware and software to close the gap.

Next: The best smart watches you can buy