Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor Review

I thought I would talk about my Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor since I refer to it quite frequently in my posts. Let me first make it clear that I am not employed by Polar, nor did I receive this watch, or any other equipment that I use in my workouts, for free from any of the manufacturers. I always do extensive research before I make any significant purchase. And so far, this one has worked out for me.

PolarFT40F-smallIf you are looking for a GPS-enabled heart rate monitor, this is not the watch for you. It doesn’t have GPS. I have my Garmin Forerunner 410 for running purposes, and I will cover that in another post. I was looking specifically for a heart rate monitor that tracked heart rate, time and calories when doing fitness workouts. I think Polar is one of the best companies for tracking heart rate. From what I can tell, they are the only company whose watch measures heart rate variability (HRV). What that means is it measures the variation in time intervals between heartbeats. It is like the heart rate machines they hook you to in the hospital. The device shows the up and down beats of the heart. Other monitors only show, and calculate, for the up beat.

Setup for the watch was very simple. I entered basic information including my weight, height, birth date, sex, maximum heart rate, and exercise frequency (low, moderate, high, or top). Then the FT40 uses the information to calculate maximum and minimum heart rate zones, and calories burned during workouts.

One of the cool features with this watch is the “OwnIndex”. After entering your personal information, you put the chest strap and the watch on. You relax for 5 minutes while it registers your resting heart rate. This becomes your OwnIndex number and this measurement is comparable to VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. This is a great indicator of an individual’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Please understand that I said it is comparable to, but not a true VO2 max test. To have a VO2 max test done you need to go to a lab and be hooked up to machines while you run on a treadmill or ride a bike. This test is time consuming and costly.

The other cool feature of the watch is the “Energy Pointer.” It takes the information you plugged into the watch and determines the correct training intensity during each workout based on your current condition. While you exercise, it displays your current heart rate on a line between your minimum and maximum heart rate limit. It will beep if you go above your maximum heart rate limit. That way you know to back off the intensity. It also lets you know if you are in you “fat burning” or “fitness” zone.

When you are finished with your workout, you sync your watch to the computer and it uploads all the information to This site assists you in reaching your goals by using the information from your watch and making recommendations from the “Smart Coaching” link.

I have the basic watch. Mine doesn’t do the “Smart Coaching.” I didn’t feel I would use that function enough to justify spending the extra money on the upgraded watch. The models that do the “Smart Coaching” are all GPS-enabled. I do not need that function for the activities I’m tracking. I use my Garmin for that. You can go to and check out their other products to determine what is right for you. If you do more running, you’ll want a GPS-enabled watch. But for Cross Fit and H.I.I.T. workouts, GPS is not necessary.