Best Fitness Tracker for CrossFit

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Let’s face it: Any CrossFit lover knows how disappointing the selection of fitness trackers are for calisthenics, hypertrophy and strength training is. Strength training seems to be a bit of a grey area for fitness trackers, even with all of the new technology circulating. 

However, that isn’t to say that they don’t exist at all – in fact, there are a lot of fantastic fitness trackers on the market that are able to accurately track strength exercises, which is a light of hope for the CrossFit enthusiast. If you’re on the market for a fitness tracker to allow you to see your CrossFit performance, look no further than this article. Here, we will cover some of the best fitness trackers for CrossFit. We’ve also got a handy buyers guide later on to demonstrate some of the criteria you should be looking for when selecting a fitness tracker.

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Best Fitness Tracker for Crossfit - Comparison Table

Best Fitness Tracker for Crossfit - Reviews

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band

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We hardly need to mention how much Apple is known for their famous iPhone series, which has taken the world by storm. By the same token, the Apple Watch is yet another entry into the line of Apple Gadgets that’s highly effective in what it does.

The watch isn’t designed strictly to be a fitness tracker, but it is very effective in tracking activity and heart rate. It doesn’t provide specific weightlifting tracking just yet, but it’s very good at monitoring your heart rate, any high intensity activity and it tracks how many calories you’ve burned so it’s a fantastic choice for crossfit workouts. You can also use it with other apps such as Fitbod, Gymaholic and Setgraph, which is very useful.

Aside from the fitness features, the Apple Watch Series 5 also boasts some impressive feats in other departments. It has a very striking look that will look fashionable both in the gym and on the go, and it has a whole host of other features. It’s a very durable watch that also comes with built in GPS and 5ATM water resistance rating. You can even use it to stream music, make Apple Pay payments and make calls.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Effective built in activity tracking

  • Waterproof

  • Useful additional features

Cons

  • Not the best battery life

If you’re on more of a budget, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is a good choice for you. This fitness tracker has a bunch of great features and is a good choice for any powerlifters, bodybuilders and CrossFitters. 

This is a very durable watch that even has a strength training profile designed for when you’re training. It lets you manually time all of your sets, enter in the reps and then time any rest periods in between. The watch even tracks your movements automatically and will detect any reps without you having to input anything manually, and this is pretty accurate too.

This version is a little more expensive than the normal Vivoactive 3 because it comes with music, but it’s very helpful to have the music to get you pumped up during your workout. You can even connect it to Spotify so you don’t even need your phone. It even has water resistance! Furthermore, you can even get a decent battery life with this watch so it’s a fantastic choice if you want something with longevity.

Pros

  • Music storage
  • Affordable

  • Built in strength training profile

Cons

  • The automatic recognition of exercise isn’t perfect

The Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire is definitely a good option for CrossFit enthusiasts. It can be used in addition to the Garmin Strength + app, which will give you weight and gender specific contingent data that helps you to further analyze your exercises. It even saves and tracks CrossFit workouts!

It’s possible to use the Fenix 6 along with the Garmin Cross Training app too which will allow you to enter workouts beforehand so you can track them. It also gives you a Tabata HIIT timer and countdown times so you can monitor how long you’re doing everything.

This tracker also comes with Pulse OX. What is this? Well, it essentially estimates how much oxygen is saturated in your body, and a Body battery that estimates your body’s energy reserve levels using heart rate variability, stress and activity.

Pros

  • Pulse OX and monitoring HR
  • Can be used with Strength+ and Cross Training App

  • Built in interval feature

Cons

  • Quite expensive

The Polar Ignite Fitness Watch is a great choice for fitness enthusiasts of all kinds, and is a particularly good option for CrossFit. This watch makes tracking fitness and sleep simple.

The watch has a built in HR monitor that’s pretty advanced due to the Precision Prime optical heart rate sensor. This allows you to track your HR during WOD, and it’s incredibly sensitive, to the point it can even track your HR when you’re swimming. It’s very good at tracking all kinds of activity so you are able to fully get a picture of how you’ve performed in every workout, and it allows you to see the quality of your sleep.

It also comes with a Polar Flow App, which has a sports profile designed to allow you to match it up with CrossFit and HIIT. It doesn’t track strength training particularly well, but you are able to create your own workouts.

Pros

  • Power flow app to track all workouts
  • In depth sleep analysis

  • Accurate optical HR monitor

Cons

  • The app doesn’t track reps or weight of Olympic lifts

This is another great fitness tracker from Polar, and it’s definitely one of the best when it comes to accurately tracking heart rate data. You don’t even need a chest strap to get an accurate HR because of the 9 LED optical HR sensor that’s built into it!

One testament to this watch’s prowess is the fact it’s even used by the CrossFit athlete Annie Thorisdottir so she can track her HR when she’s training. The watch comes with a range of programs including Training Load Pro, Cardio load status and Recovery pro, which let you know whether you’re working hard enough or if you need more time to recover. 

The watch is also quite light weight and it has a slim band that looks sleek and doesn’t get in your way while you’re working out. All in all, it’s a great choice for CrossFit workouts to really get a proper snapshot of the intensity of your exercise.

Pros

  • Accurate and advanced HR sensor
  • Range of programs to track performance

  • HIIT option on Polar Flow app to let you track portions of the workout

Cons

  • It can be tricky to navigate the phone app

Best Fitness Tracker for Crossfit - Buyers Guide

While it can be tricky to find a good fitness tracker for CrossFit, it’s certainly not impossible. The question is, though, how do you know what to look for when selecting a fitness tracker for CrossFit or otherwise? That’s where our buyers guide comes in.

Design

When you’re looking for a fitness watch, you’ll probably notice that it’s rare that two models look the same – there will always be some kind of design variation. They can come in a range of sizes and shapes. Some of them can look more like a traditional watch, while you can tell some of them are designed to be fitness watches

It depends a little on your own personal tastes what you choose to buy. If you’re intending to only wear it during gym time then it’s not going to be a problem, but if you’re intending to wear it out for things like social events you’re going to want some more suited to your personal taste and outfit choices. Some of the shapes look rather strange in non-gym scenarios, so consider this element before buying a watch that’s only appropriate for the gym.

It’s important to also ensure that the watch is built in the way you want, so is it low profile or bulky? You’ll need to make sure that the watch isn’t going to get in the way of your workouts, so it’s best to opt for a lightweight watch. Also make sure the fit is secure, as they come in a range of sizes though the majority are one size fits all. 

Also, consider the screen quality, as you will want something that’s got an easy to read screen - it’s handy to have an ‘always on’ screen when you’re working out and just want a quick glance at the watch screen. 

Battery

A decent fitness watch will let you track some great statistics, but it’s all pretty pointless if the battery dies and you can’t see anything. Not all fitness watches are built the same when it comes to battery, so always check the advertised battery life so you can check if it’s going to be the right option for you.

If you’re only going to be using the watch in the gym then a short battery life may not be a problem, but if you plan to use it to track your steps and daily activity then a watch that lasts a mere 24 hours is going to be worthless to you. Interestingly some of the higher end watches have a lower battery life as they come with more features running at once. It all depends on what you need it for.

Activity Tracking

Of course, being able to track your activities is what you want to be able to do with a fitness watch. With a fitness watch you should be able to track calories, floors and steps. With some you may be able to find specific profiles designed for running, cycling and swimming. 

Some of these watches also have strength training profiles built into them but it’s not normally as good as the other training profiles as strength workouts can be complicated and can’t be tracked in the same way.

Heart Rate Monitoring 

Heart rate monitoring is one of the most important things to have in a fitness watch, aside from movement tracking. One of the best ways to monitor your activity to see whether you’re reaching your target is to make sure that you’re in a particular heart rate zone. The heart rate zone you’re in determines how the activity affects you, so if you're trying to burn fat you should be in the 60% to 70% zone, while if you want better aerobic fitness you want to be in the 70% to 80% zone. 

The vast majority of fitness trackers have a heart rate monitor positioned on the wrist using photoplethysmography, which uses light to notice changes in the blood flow through the wrist. 

Heart rate monitors in fitness trackers are generally quite accurate, but the bigger names such as Apple, Fitbit and Garmin tend to be a little bit more accurate than budget watches.

GPS Tracking

If you’re only going to be gym or box based activities then this isn’t going to be that useful to you, but if you also enjoy exercising outdoors, such as for running or cycling, then GPS tracking may be beneficial to you. 

You’ll get one of two kinds of GPS: connected GPS and built in GPS. Connected GPS isn’t as convenient but it tends to be a cheaper option. A built in GPS is handy as it means you can leave your phone at home, unlike with connected GPS which requires a smartphone GPS signal. You will need to consider that though a built in GPS is more convenient, it’s a more expensive option. 

Water Resistance

Water resistance is a handy thing in a fitness tracker, especially if you enjoy swimming. It may not be that important for you for CrossFit, but having the option to wear it while swimming is still quite useful. You should always check the specifications set out by the manufacturer to see how much water resistance they offer if this is an important element to you.

Even if you aren’t interested in using the tracker for swimming, it’s still quite important to have at least an IP67 or IP68 rating just in case you’re caught in the rain or you accidentally end up showering with the watch on.

Sleep Tracking

When you’re building muscle and strength, sleep is pivotal to ensure you’re able to recover after a particularly intense workout session. As you’re unconscious, you won’t know just how effective your sleep was. That’s where sleep tracking in a fitness tracker comes in handy. Sleep tracking features will let you see how restful your sleep was so you can change things for the best sleep hygiene. 

Of course, this does influence the battery life. If your fitness tracker only has a 24 hours battery then it’s going to be pretty much useless for sleep tracking

Lifestyle Features

This is something that is more associated with smartwatches than with fitness trackers, and these mainly come down to convenience. One thing that’s a nice feature to have is music storage or streaming capabilities. Sometimes a funky tune can help us to push ourselves that much more during a sweat session!

Another useful feature is smartphone notifications. It means you can see your notifications straight from your wrist without needing to constantly pull your phone out mid workout. Some of them will even let you respond to messages and make your own calls. 

Some smartwatches and fitness trackers also allow you to be able to pay by using the watch instead of getting your wallet out. This can be particularly helpful if you need to pop into your local shop while on a run but don’t have pockets to carry a wallet. If you often forget your wallet this is incredibly helpful for you!

There are a lot more functions aside from these, such as weather alerts and female health tracking features. In fact, if you have a smartphone, your smartphone app store has a bunch of extra apps you can add to the device so you can cater it to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do fitness trackers do? 

In essence, the main purpose of a fitness tracker is to track your fitness activity. This could be from something as simple as a morning walk, to swimming to your fitness session. They usually come armed with a bunch of technology and sensors so you can analyze the effectiveness of your workout. Some fitness trackers only have basic information on a workout, while some will go more in depth about your performance, for example if you’re running it may track things like cadence and speed.

As we’ve already mentioned, they’re also great for convenience such as for GPS connectivity and the ability to pay on the go without needing a wallet with you. 

How does a fitness tracker monitor heart rate? 

Fitness trackers use something called photoplethysmography (also known as PPG). It is a system that utilizes a number of LED lights that are set at all different frequencies. These will then shine into the skin and the amount of reflectance is then measured. This is not a fool proof method, but it’s still close to accurate. As technology advances these trackers get more and more accurate, but if you want something that’s got nearly 100% accuracy while you’re working out then you’re going to want to use a chest strap monitor.

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