Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X with Memory
P.S. This is a long article, so click here for a sneak peak of my choice!
P.P.S. I have since written a new article for Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr
In the new world of Bluetooth heart rate straps, there are two clear leaders that have both carved their route to the top through having quite different key characteristics.
The Polar H7 and the Wahoo Tickr
Why heart rate?
Before we step in to this, I should recap why I am such a proponent of training based on heart rate (especially in rowing and cycling). In short – I truly believe that heart rate is the most important metric that you can measure and pay attention to. Much more important than many others touted in the industry these days:
- Calories burned
All of the above are often seen as features on gadgets, or in training plans and challenges. However, I believe that all of the above are either meaningless (steps, BMI), gross approximations (calories burned) or lead to odd behaviours (weight).
Here are three key areas that heart rate is the best measure for making progress in the most efficient way possible.
- Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance
- Weight Loss
This is how I first saw the light with measuring heart rate, and it came from one of my first ever rowing club captains at University. He had a training spreadsheet and one metric we were all required to fill in was resting heart rate every morning. This was especially important during winter when cold, flu and other easily spreadable illnesses go around. If a spike in resting heart rate was noticed for 2 days or more, we would be put on a reduced training plan, and we were told that if we felt groggy or the onset of illness coming, to focus on getting better (increased intake of greens and water) and to stay away from the squad.
This was such a simple indicator to help you keep on top of general health and it is one that I still often track in the winter when training so that I know when I need to pay attention to myself. I would totally recommend giving this a go – it can be easy to do by throwing the heart strap on and logging the HR in a note on your phone or a spreadsheet that you update each day. For the sake of 60-90 seconds each morning – this is a simple and easy way to monitor health!
Resting heart rate is an incredible indicator of overall health, and being able to monitor it, and watch it improve over time can lead to a much better long term, healthy future.
“The best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning.” Harvard Health
Cardiovascular Fitness / Endurance
I am a strong believer that you should do the majority of your cardio training based strictly on heart rate – keep this constance and measure fitness improvement through seeing how your power/ distance improves over time with your heart rate being fixed.
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
This is a form of cardio training designed to keep you in that ‘fat burn’ zone. My simple description of the science here is that it is low enough that you can repeat it very frequently as recovery is short, but it is high enough that you are getting a sweat on. This should be targeted to be completed at 60-65% of your maximum heart rate. As a rule of thumb, use 220 minus your age as max HR. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes for LISS, and if you can, try getting up to 60-90 minutes (the odd 1 minute break for water/ stretch is fine!)
High Intensity Steady State (HIIT)
This is a popular word in the training world, and HIIT is getting a lot of attention as it can be such a good use of time if you don’t have that much to play with. The aim of the game here it so get your heart rate as high as possible for short stints of exercise, followed by a rest, and then another interval (and repeat).
As example HIIT workout on a rowing machine would be intervals of 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off. Try and do 12-15 minutes of HIIT – if you can do longer, you aren’t working hard enough!
The benefits of HIIT are that the ‘after burn’ is longer, as your metabolic rate increases for a substantial period. However, recovery takes longer and you should limit this to 2 or 3 sessions a week.
As per my points above – I think that training needs to be done as efficiently as possible. If you use LISS correctly, you aren’t working too hard, which will impact your recovery and also the duration you’re able to train for. If you do HIIT correctly, you keep sessions efficient and maximize long term calorie burning.
If weight loss is the aim – being considerate about how you train and monitoring what you are doing is essential. Why pay a personal trainer to tell you to train harder if you have a watch letting you know exactly how much harder you need to go!
Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr
Right, I’ve given my thoughts on why tracking heart rate is so important for a multitude of reasons. Now lets get to the main focus of this article – how do the Polar H7 strap and the Wahoo Tickr compare to each other?
First up – it is the Polar H7. This is one of the newest developments by Polar who really are one of the giants (if not THE giant) in the heart rate industry. Having seen that the proliferation of devices was disrupting the industry, and new players coming in (like Wahoo, who we will get to shortly) – they knew they needed an answer for those who want a heart rate strap but don’t necessarily want to be tied in to needing a watch to go with it.
It is hard to say too much about a heart rate strap – but here are some of its main features:
- Bluetooth enabled
- Long battery life, ideal for those who might be doing long sessions over multiple days
- Available in multiple colours
Here is a video giving a better summary than I could do with words.
To summarise the Polar H7 – it is a high quality piece of equipment created by one of the most established brands in heart rate electronics. You really can’t go wrong with this.
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Wahoo Tickr X with Memory
The first thing I need to mention here is that you have two options with the Wahoo Tickr – one with memory and one without. The difference in price is pretty marginal so I am writing this review for the Wahoo Tickr X with Memory. This also makes is a different product to the Polar H7 and more worthy of being reviewed and compared as the Polar H7 does not have memory. What this means is that you can use the Wahoo Tickr without being connected to any device and it will store what you’ve done and sync to your preferred device later on. Ideal!
Before we get too into the review. Lets take a step back. Wahoo is a relatively new company to this industry, however they have made an instant impact by bringing out a range of products aimed straight at serious athletes that meet requirements no other company had yet approached. Think motion analysis, in-memory heart rate and much more. There is a reason the Team Sky Cycling Team (Current Tour De France champions) swear by Wahoo – it is phenomenal.
Some key features:
- Bluetooth enabled
- Built in memory
- Connect to an array of watches including Garmin and Polar (and Concept 2 PM5 screens)
To summarise – this is a seriously impressive piece of technology. For me it ticks all the boxes and is a nice change from the usual suspects for tracking heart rate. Wahoo also have a huge range of apps, one of which allows you to use the Wahoo Device to count your reps!
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I could summarise easily by saying this – both the Polar H7 and the Wahoo Tickr are incredible bits of kit and neither would do you wrong. Below is a quick summary table that might help you to make that choice
|Feature||Polar H7||Wahoo Tickr||Recommendation|
|Established Brand||Polar have been around for as long as athletes have been using electronics for tracking heart rate||Wahoo is new to the game, they are the disruptor causing brands like Polar to innovate||If you want a trusted brand, Polar are a titan in the industry|
|Aesthetics||Comes in various colours including pink, blue and black||Only currently available with a single colour strap||If you care about the look of the strap, then Polar have done well to bring out a number of eye catching colours|
|Memory||The H7 does not come with any in built memory||This is the biggest advantage of the Wahoo Tickr X (with memory)||Wahoo’s product innovation here gives it a special USP|
|Native Apps||Polar Beat is a great little app that helps you track and manager your sessions and heart rate throughout.||Wahoo have done a great job on creating a range of apps for different activities. They really know their audience.||For innovation in their apps, which will drive usage of the strap from users it has to be Wahoo here for me.|
So there we have it – overall it’s a tie, but it really depends what you are looking for in a heart rate strap, and what your ambitions are. I think Wahoo is aimed more at serious athletes who want to do more analysis, whilst the Polar H7 is a reliable heart rate strap for anyone.
Let me know if you found this review helpful!
P.S. for a wider view of available heart rate monitors, see my post Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor
See below for a summary of the other head to head posts that I have done: