I’ve got a thing for watches and have had so many different altimeter watches, heart rate watches and training watches that I’ve developed quite the discerning eye and taste for them. I know my way around nearly every watch on the market.
I’m never satisfied with a run-of-the-mill watch that just tells the time and date, It takes much more than that to get me jazzed about a watch. I’m talking about watches that can nearly guess your next move, can track your entire ski day or, in this case, one that can help you make smarter workout decisions. The Polar FT60 has been my training partner for a couple of months now and I’m amazed how far heart rate monitors have come… this one is definitely one of the most useful workout tools I’ve used.
About the Polar FT60 Training Watch
With a sea full of heart rate watches, the original and market-leader can’t sit still while innovation happens around them. Suunto and Polar are neck-and-neck in the training watch market–each with their versions of training watches. Both happen to be Finnish companies and both have a long history of producing some of the most advanced watches on the market.
The FT 60 raises the bar on training watches by simplifying measurements that were previously left only for Ph. D’s. Detailed workout analysis is now available on your wrist. And with the ability to personalize your workouts and track your performance based on your characteristics and fitness level, the FT60 can truly be your personal fitness coach.
Watch the Polar FT60 overview video on YouTube.
Features of the Polar FT 60 G1:
- WearLink heart rate transmitter
- Automatic age-based target zones
- 30m water resistant
- G1 GPS armband
- Compatible with optional S1 Footpod
- Target zones
- Historical workout summaries (100 files)
- Polar OwnCal tracks calories burned (Workout, Total, Weekly, Fat %)
- Polar Fitness Test with OwnIndex measures VO2 Max
- Polar STAR Training Program
- Dual Time
- Compatible with PolarPersonalTrainer.com
- Colors: Pink or Black (Women’s), Black/Silver/White or Black/Silver/Red (Men’s)
- MSRP: $239.95 (Watch and HR) / $139.95 for G1 GPS
Polar FT60 Training Watch Review
Out of the box, I noticed two things: 1) This watch is very stylish and clean looking, and 2) It had an intuitive setup wizard that guided me through the initial setup process for goof-proof setup. The initial setup wizard is refreshing in a world of uber-complicated training watches.This process takes you through your key stats (ladies… don’t lie about your age and weight), workout goals, fitness level and basic setup.
Like anything, the most important step is always the setup and preparation. With the FT60, you get everything configured right off the bat so you can get on with your workouts in a jiffy.
The large dot-matrix display is awesome and can display a ton of data and graphs. Unlike many designs, the entire screen uses the same display style. Some try and mix-and-match dot-matrix with LED-style and it just looks awkward. All controls are super-simple to understand and buttons are clearly marked during each function. I’ve never once referenced the manual to use all the functions–that’s how clear and logical everything is on this watch.
After some quick tightness adjustments on the WearLink heart rate transmitter, I was ready to head out. The WearLink transmitter design is a 360-degree soft band for unparalleled comfort and transmission quality. Wearing this heart rate band becomes second-nature and works well under a hydration pack.
The G1 GPS pod is comfortable to wear and is easy to use. A single button turns it on and if the watch is configured for GPS mode, the signal is picked-up in about 15 seconds. Like any GPS device, you’re always limited by the quality of the view of the sky. While trail running through mixed trees, I found it to lock onto the satellites very well, but while on a mountain bike in mixed trees, it tended to lose the signal much more often. Comfort of the G1 is excellent and can be easily adjusted on-the-fly. You can choose to wear it on your arm or waistbelt. Tossing it in your pack may or may not work–it all depends on the distance from your wrist.
Working out is where the FT60 shines. Training mode is easy to start and you’ll immediately have access to your heart rate, elapsed time, calories burned and speed and distance at the touch of a button. I wish it had an auto-scroll function to scan through all of the above, but as it stands, you’ll have to tap the button to switch views. While trail running or mountain biking, this was sometimes difficult since the buttons weren’t as tactile as I’d like.
At the end of your workout, the stored memory will give you a one-line summary of your performance. Did you overtrain? Did you improve performance? Did you improve fitness? Did you not work hard enough? The one-line workout summary will tell you–that alone is awesome! The rest of the summary data is to be expected with min/max heart rate, time in each heart rate zone, min/max speed, distance, calories burned (total and fat%) and elapsed time. Workouts are automatically grouped by week for a weekly summary.
The STAR training program offers the additional ability to have a guided workout routine with alarms (audible and on-screen) to keep you on track. It’s like having your own personal trainer on your wrist that can cater the workout to your height, weight, age and fitness level.
I used the FT60 for indoor workouts, trail running, hiking, road cycling and mountain biking and was able to track my performance effectively and easily. I loved seeing the calories burned and was often-times surprised at how much I did burn during my workouts. In the past, every heart rate watch I’ve used has quickly lost its luster, but the FT60 continues to deliver–so much so that I haven’t exercised without it.
- Stylish and comfortable enough for daily wear
- Separate GPS device reduces bulk
- Very intuitive design
- Initial setup wizard is great
- Ability to connect HRM, GPS or Footpod
- Smart training programs analyze your workouts
- Simple review of previous workouts and performance
- Comfortable HRM
- Tracks VO2 max over time
- Buttons can be hard to press while running or biking
- No auto-scan feature to see rotating activity data (you have to push a button to view different data points mid-activity)
- No lap tracking
- G1 GPS tends to lose signal in the trees
- Can be cumbersome to wear multiple devices, but you don’t wear the GPS on every workout
The Bottom Line: Polar FT60
With catered workout measurement and on-the-fly training, the Polar FT60 has been an awesome workout partner that has truly helped me maximize my workouts. If you are looking for a heart rate monitor and training watch that actually delivers, the FT60 is hard to beat. Ditch “Hans the Trainer” and switch to the Polar FT60 to measure your workout performance.
Buy Now: Find Polar Watches at REI.com
This is a great blog and an excellent review of the watch. Thanks
I just posted a review of the Suunto t4c, which is Suunto’s version of the Polar FT60. After the initial steep learning curve, the t4c ended up working very well. The GPS sensor is more powerful than Polar’s.
I still prefer the ease-of-use provided by the FT60, but both are suitable as training watches. Given the choice, I think I’d still go with the FT60.
Read my review of the Suunto t4c…
Which watch has the better software/online program to monitor workouts and progress? Additionally, I am a Mac user and was wondering if these are Mac compatible. Thanks.
I have no idea since they only work on PC’s. Sorry.
Do you know wich one would be better if i have no idea about training, wich one do you think will be better the suunto t4c coach or the polar star training?
The Polar FT60 is hands-down much simpler. Setting it up and getting it rolling is much easier. Once you get used to the t4’s quirks, it’s not bad, but the Polar FT60 is definitely easier overall.
The Polar FT60 heart rate monitor has a good set of features for its price. It’s available in 2 packages, ethier with or without the Polar G1 GPS sensor. If the GPS functionality is too limited for you, rather look at the Garmin Forerunner 405. However, for those wanting a heart rate monitor for gym training or general exercise, you can’t go wrong with the Polar FT60. Also read buyer guide at http://www.coolcheapest.com/HeartRateMonitors.aspx
Hello, i just have a silly question, if i want to see the distance and speed i run, i must use the GPS? the watch doesn’t have an acelerometer or any other device to measure this?
Yes, you have to use the separate GPS pod. But, you only need to use that every so often when mapping new routes or training based on speed/distance. It’s nice to have a wearable watch to use on other training runs or around town.
I am just wondering about the GPS unit. When it loses it signal will it still keep an accurate distance measurement?? Thanks
Unfortunately, when the GPS loses its fix, you also lose both your MPH and distance measurements until it re-acquires the signal.
I just got the FT60 and im thrilled! What an awesome little machine! Its the first time that I’m using that kind of device while training and I am pleased : it became a part of my workout equipment just like putting on my running shoes! I didnt buy the GPS cause I see no use for it at the moment : I dont mind not knowing the distance and I usually run on a track or on a treadmil. I agree with the comment about the buttons which are hard to push in the moment of intense training but then I simply don’t push them, I only refer to my heartbeat. The only cons FOR ME is that using the FT60 I have learned that my trainings were too intenses. Which is odd : I like training intensely and pushing myself to the max for the longest time, is it bad and if it is, why? in which way? I don’t care about not burning as much fat as if I was lightly jogging…! I train for fun and for the passion of it! They should have a program for people who like to stay in the 3rd zone and barely go in the 1rst or 2nd!
Most athletes do not train SMART. By working out hard you improve for a while then plateau, any further improvement is hard to come by and most give up. POLAR is rightly getting athletes to increase their aerobic capacity which requires lower heart rate (but not always easier!!) training. Trust it and you will see the improvement. For more detailed analysis look at the info on mcmillanrunning.com
I choked when I read that the FT-60’s setup was “intuitive” and “goof-proof”. If initial setup is interrupted then it is very difficult for the new user to get back to it. I had such difficulty with mine that I took it to my personal trainer who had asked me to get a training watch. She also was unable to get the watch programmed. We tried to follow along in the manual but it is poorly written and needs revision to make the instructions clearer for exercise watch newbies. I’m still very confused as to how to make the watch work but at least I got it to tune into my heartbeat so it has been minimally useful so far.
Hmmm… yeah, the first-time setup process only happens once and then you’re on your own. Even at that, getting into the menus to set things up is still pretty much straightforward, here’s how:
From standard watch setting, do the following:
1. Press the upper-right button 3 times until “Settings” appears with little gears
2. Press the middle-right button to go into Settings
3. Press the upper-right button again 3 times until you get to “User Information”
4. From there, you just input your height, weight, activity levels, etc.
5. Your zones should automatically adjust from your personal settings, I believe
I wonder if you pulled the battery and let the watch reset if it would go back through the setup wizard? Might be worth a try, if you want.
Was that the settings you were struggling with? If you need help setting target heart rate zones, I’m sure if you did a google search you could find all kinds of charts, etc. that will help you based on your age, weight and activity level.
Can you comment on the how the FT60 squares up to the Garmin 305?
I know that the 305 has inbuilt GPS, but that means the battery life is only about 11hrs.
How does the FT60 connect up to your PC… Wifi / USB??
I read the 305 trainer has a “virtual training partner”… so you can train against previous runs I guess. Does the FT60 have anything similar?
The FT60 is a much more wearable watch for everyday use and gym use (if that’s important to you). Not having to wear additional devices is a bonus with the Garmin, but you do have to wear a large watch.
It does feature the STAR training program that will suggest workout intensities, etc. To transfer your data to your PC (not Mac-compatible), you must purchase the optional Flowlink device, or opt for the FT80, which includes it:
Thanks a bunch for your info provided above on 10/1/09. Yes, I got my FT60 watch working – also the flowlink. I’m now using the PolarTrainer web site with the workouts I do updated from my watch to the web working flawlessly. The flowlink really makes the FT60 shine – highly recommend it and it works so easily. I love the Star training ability / program.
So all working very well although I’m sure the watch probably does more than I know (will learn more as I keep using it no doubt) but I do have a question still:
Is it possible to have the FT60 display my heart rate without having it run a training session? I would like it to display heart rate instead of (or as well as) the time. That would be so helpful as I am an oncology nurse and work keeps me so stressed that I usually become tachycardic (which is quite damaging long term) so I would love to be able to monitor heart rate so I could modify work patterns to stay within normal heart rate.
Anyway, thanks again – and to readers looking for a review – if you have the FT80 or FT60 – get the flowlink – it’s such a useful tool. 🙂
This is copied from the T4c review:
For Mac users…If you utilize iSMARTtrain http://www.ismarttrain.com/ you can use a Mac. Their newest release handles most of the models of the best brands. Some of their site needs to be updated…but Suunto watches are supported. Read their blog and forums. Polar watches are the primary brand supported…just because this is the brand the developer started with. He’s branched out significantly since then but Polar still has a “head start” in his software.
Great review on the FT60. I’m also considering the Timex Race Trainer which seems very comparable to the Polar FT 60. Do you have any experience with that watch? How does it really compare to the Polar? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Does the FT60 only display 3 zones? I saw some of the polar HRMs display 5 zones… would think it a bit odd if it only had the option of displaying zones 1-3.
@Carla… It’s similar to the Timex Race Trainer, but Polar is a far superior unit. Timex makes good, inexpensive products, but the FT60 is truly a one-of-a-kind watch. I used to sell Timex products, but not the Race Trainer, and Polar is far superior.
@Lia… I’ll have to check to see if they can monitor more than three zones. I believe it can, but I’m not 100% sure.
No, it uses POLAR zones 2-4, but calls them 1 2 and 3 just to confuse us! Polar Zone 1 (50-60%) is very low aerobic zone and used by endurance athletes for ‘recovery jogs’ Zone 5 (90-100%) is only really used by top end athletes ‘peaking’ for competition, and also by us mere mortals in our races – not really advised for training. As the old adage goes “I train TO race, not race in training”. Polar Zones 2-4 are 60-70%, 70-80% and 80-90% respectively
I also have the same question as Alistair. “Is it possible to have the FT60 display my heart rate without having it run a training session?”. I like to do sets of pushups and situps when I wake up in the morning. Even though its a minimal training session is it something the ft60 would track?.. or would it tell me to work harder or something?
One more thing. I have a small bone structure and usually the female watches fit me better. Do you know if I purchased a female watch if I could still program it for male use?
@Adam… Yes, it does show the heart rate outside of starting an actual training session. You just have to enter training mode, but don’t have to start a session. I believe that the Women’s watch should function the same with the same features, etc. as the Men’s. However, they may have stuff pre-programmed for Women that I’m unaware of (highly unlikely, but possible). I’d check with Polar or an Polar authorized dealer first.
I was considering the Timex and the Polar both. I ended up buying the Timex out of convenience and am so disappointed that I’m returning it tomorrow so I can get the Polar instead. I’m very not impressed with the training software, the ANT (to upload to my computer) doesn’t work, and I like the fact that the Polar has a estimated calories burned. I don’t have the Polar yet so I can’t say how it works in comparison but I can say I’m not thrilled with the Timex.
Every company has their shortcomings, but there’s a reason why Timex is the lowest price… I’ll leave it at that. I hope you enjoy the FT60 as it is a great training watch for the money.
Hi Jason! Loved the review. I agree with you about the buttons! I just wondered if you knew about the ‘heart touch’ feature? You can change the display on the watch by bringing it up close to the chest strap. It’ll display the next screen. That way you don’t need to use the buttons! Works great while running but it isn’t so useful when the watch is strapped to a bike handlebar…
Hi Jason thanks for a really great review on this model. I actually had a look at the FT 60 today and was a bit frustrated as the dealer couldent tell me anything about the watch. Im convinced after reading this review that I will be buying a very good product, but just have a quick question: in the ‘cons’ you state:’No scan feature to see HRM, Speed, Distance and Elapsed time’, am i understanding correctly that during the run one cannot check to see how far, fast and for how long one has been running? That is a very important function and actually one that I would use all the time to see how Im progressing. Am I understanding this correctly. Thanks Sharon
Sorry for the confusion there. What I meant to say is that it lacks an auto-scan feature that will display those items in a rotating sequence. All that data is viewable mid-activity, you just have to press a button or two to see the different data points.
But, of course you can see that data mid-activity.
Thanks Jason, I will be purchasing one tomorrow!!
I’m really struggling with setting up and using my new Polar FT60.
I have managed to get the time set up but can’t get both the time and my heart rate to appear on the watch at the same time. Will this only happen when I am working out with the chest strap on?
Thank you for being here to help us gadget challenged older folks.
@Judy – Adding to what WillC replied. I own the FT60, the feature to see the time when you are working out is called “heart touch”. You enable the feature in the settings. When you are working out, you bring the watch up and ‘touch’ it to the HRM transmitter and the watch will display the time for a few seconds. I’ve never tried to do that motion multiple times in succession to see if it will show other screens as WillC seems to say that it does.
Hi and thanks for the review!
I did have a question that I hope you as an FT60 owner can answer.
If I don’t buy the Flowlink device, would it be possible for me to just access the workout data stored on the device manually and perhaps even enter into the the online PolarTraining website manually ?
I would like to assume that any data that flowlink would sync from the watch could be accessed through reviewing data memory in the watch manually, But before I make the decision to buy the whole package, I just want to know if I will be missing out on being able to analyze my data with the PolarTraining website by not purchasing the Flowlink.
That’s true, but you will lose the detailed info transferred via flowlink ie hr info DURING exercise, this is used by the polar website to gauge your improvement and suggest training changes.
You can view your summary data manually, yes. That way you can input it manually into the online Web site.
I’m looking to get the FT60 next week. In regards to your reply on 13 Jan 2010, in addition to showing your current heart rate, does the FT60 also display how many calories burnt without starting a training session?
Thanks in advance =)
Calories only show during or after a workout session.
Have you had any issues with your Polar not registering a correct heart rate? Or not being really sensitive to interference? I’ve sent mine in for work and they keep telling me it’s fine. Yet in a 35 min time span my heart rate jumped around like crazy then told me it couldn’t find a heart rate. (I don’t have arrhythmia.) Have you heard of any one having these issues?
If you are wearing it in the office their are numerous elctro magnetic fields which may be interfering. Also the chest band needs to be moist in order to pick up the tiny electrical impulses from the heart. Without exercising, you are probably not producing enough sweat to maintain the connection – try licking the electrodes and see if that helps, at least for 1/2 hour or so.
Sorry to hear about your issues, Elena. No, I have not experienced those issues. I have since passed the watch to my wife and she uses it daily and has not mentioned anything of the sort. Have you tried pairing it with a new HRM band? They aren’t cheap, but it may be worth a try. I’m sure you’ve done this, but a fresh set of batteries in both the watch and HR band may be in order.
I bought the FT60 about 3 months ago. I have learned that my trainings were too intenses. Which is odd : I like training intensely and pushing myself to the max for the longest time, is it bad and if it is, why?
I just got my Polar FT60 and I do love all the features but it doesn’t register the calories burned correctly. It only registers half the actual calories burned, I have compared the numbers to others in my circuit training class. Do you know why this might be?
These numbers need to be taken cautiously, each persons metabolic rate affects calorie burn, so unless you have it analysed via testing in a lab, the figures could be way out. x2 is not beyond belief…
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does this have bluetooth
It does not. This is a pretty old watch, so connectivity is limited.