It is relatively easy to find trackers that track calories burned and heart rate.
It’s much more difficult to find trackers that work well with the cross functional, high intensity demands of CrossFit. Most of the watches below have features that are now common place such as built in gps, sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring and tracking calories burned.
We’ve done the research and selected the best 5 fitness trackers for CrossFit currently on the market. These trackers should help you track your CrossFit workouts at a suitable level for you.
We’ve split into 2 categories wrist worn devices with optical heart rate sensors and chest straps which typically work better with the many movements of CrossFit. Where appropriate we have suggested a chest strap that works well with the device.
Best overall package
|Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor||$89.55||Buy on Amazon|
|Garmin fenix 5X Plus, Ultimate Multisport GPS Smartwatch, Features Color Topo Maps and Pulse Ox,...||$439.99||Buy on Amazon|
1. Garmin Fenix 5X Plus
The Fenix series of watches have always been top notch in terms of their ability to track many different activities. The Fenix 5X is no different – packing in an extensive set of features.
The Fenix 5X plus has a strength program which automatically displays the number of reps of single move once at least 4 reps have been performed. It’s good for simple routines but does require you to press the lap button between sets to active the reset time and won’t work for more complicated workouts like supersets as it only recognises one move at once.
The optical heart rate sensor on the Fenix 5X works well for running and cycling but will struggle to keep an accurate reading with the multiple movement of a Crossfit WOD. It does however support any ANT+ compatible chest strap.
Outside of CrossFit, the Fenix 5X Plus is a versatile device that will track a whole host of activities ranging from indoor running to skiing and golf to triathlon as well as the more common options of hiking, running and cycling. The device itself will display color topo and street maps with pre-loaded routes.
On the non fitness side you also get contactless payments and enough storage for 500 songs on the watch itself which can be played through Bluetooth headphones – great for running
There are 2 main drawbacks with the Fenix 5X Plus, the size which you may find a bit bulky during your workout of the day and the price. Whilst the Fenix 5X is jammed packed with functionality it does not come cheap – these watches are expensive/
If you are looking for the best fitness tracker for CrossFit the Fenix 5X plus a chest strap is the best combination around at the moment.
2. Garmin Instinct
The Instinct series offers a great combination of features, long battery life (over 7 days without GPS) and price which make it a serious contender. Made to US military standards it is rugged and durable and much smaller than its Fenix Siblings..
Other differences from the Fenix 5X plus are no contactless payments and no support for onboard music. On the plus side the monochrome 128 x 128 screen is easy to read in almost all conditions as well as multiple activity tracking options such as swimming, strength, running and cycling. As with most Garmin watches you can customise the display to your liking. So, for CrossFit you may choose to display your heart rate especially if you pair it with a external heart rate chest strap like the HRM Tri.
All in all, the Garmin Instinct is a rugged versatile tracker that offers great value. It is probably most suited to someone who does CrossFit who is also an outdoor fitness enthusiast too. If the great outdoors, isn’t your thing there are possibly better alternatives.
3. Garmin Vivoactive 4 / 4S
The Vivoactive 4 / 4S is an advanced fitness tracking device. Offering much more functionality than the Vivosmart but not as pricey as the Fenix. This touchscreen device is available in 2 sizes with the S in 4S standing for small – measuring 40 mm whilst the bigger device is 45mm.
As well as the touchscreen it is also possible to use 2 buttons on the side of the watch to move through the functions or start and stops laps or sets which comes in handy if you tracking yor reps.
The Vivoactive has the ability to track cycling, swimming, running and even golf amongst other activities. One of the interesting features of the Vivoactive is the animated workouts that shows animations of strength workouts directly on the device. There is also GPS and capacity for onboard storage of up to 500 songs.
4. Garmin Vivosmart 4
Whilst the Fenix and Instinct are designed with serious outdoor fitness enthusiasts in mind the Vivosmart 4 is the at the other end of the scale. The Vivosmart is towards the lower end of the Garmin product line and is more suited to recreational usage.
That being said it is still a very capable fitness tracker.
It is a great choice if you are looking for a tracker that is small in size and weighs in at a very light 204 grams. The downside of the small size is a small display which can sometime be difficult to read and navigation through the menu system is quite clumsy,
The small display goes along with 7 day battery life and numerous dedicated activity tracking modes including running, biking, walking, yoga and strength training. More advanced functionality includes smart phone notifications, Pulse Ox monitor and Body Battery. Body Battery measures and monitors numerous data points from your device and gives you a score of 0 – 100 with higher scores being the best time to do your workout. The perfect tool to determine when to do your WOD!
The Vivosmart 4 covers all the usual basics like steps taken, calories burned and sleep tracking but comes up short for tracking runs as it doesn’t have an onboard GPS or the capability to tether to the GPS on your phone.
Overall, the Vivosmart 4 is a capable fitness tracker and will suit CrossFit activities if your needs are very basic. More advanced users would benefit from some of the other devices mentioned.
5. Polar Vantage V – best fitness tracker for athletes
The Polar Vantage V is Polar’s serious fitness watch. It is targeted to people who are really into their performance and analyzing their workout data.
I have a Polar M430 Wrist Watch that I pair with my Polar H10 chest strap for workouts…yeah, I’m a big data nerd.
Polar are often recognised as having the best wrist based heart rate sensors and the Vantage V is no different – equipped with 9 wrist sensors, complete bioimpedance electrodes and an algorithm that can deal with missing data point – it is reputed to be the best wrist based heart rate sensor currently available. It even works underwater.
Does that mean you can ditch the chest strap?
Not quite yet. For fitness activities with a lot of dynamic movement like CrossFit it will still be best to have a chest strap such as the Polar H10. Using the Vantage V with the H10 will also give you access to orthostatic test that allows you to monitor the balance between training and recovery.
The device is touchscreen but also has 5 physical buttons to navigate with the touch screen being disabled during exercise. Batery life on the Vantage V comes in at about 40 hours with GPS operational or 100 hours in the battery saving mode. In terms of tracking there are hundreds of options and you can choose which 20 you want to display on the watch in the app.
Where the Polar Vantage V really shines is the integration with the Polar FLOW platform. Your workouts are analysed and different metrics can be calculated such as Muscle Load, Perceived Load and Cardio Load which is the most useful for CrossFit. To the extent that it can all be combined to create a bespoke daily training guide as the video shows.
The best wrist-based optical HR sensor (Precision Prime); and
The Vantage V is the best wrist based optical HR sensor you can get at the moment. Couple with the Polar Flow app and it is a great device for athletes are serious about performance. For the best CrossFit results you would probably want to couple it with the H10 chest strap.
On the negative side, the combination of the buttons and touch screen can be a bit confusing and the sleep tracking, smart watch features are a little bit lacking towards other devices.
Chest straps / heart rate monitors
As has previously been mentioned wrist based heart rate sensors struggle to get accurate readings in CrossFit. The sheer range of dynamic movements means quite often the sensor is not in contract with your wrist.
Whilst devices like the Polar Vanatge V are covering this gap all the time, there is still no better alternative than a chest heart rate monitor to get accurate readings.
Look out for chest straps that support the ANT+ standard as these are compatible with a large amount of fitness trackers across many brands and manufacturers. Once you have configured your tracker it will the take the reading from your chest strap in precedence to the wrist sensor.
We’ve listed 3 different chest monitors below:
The Garmin Tri comes with onboard memory so you can either wear it with your watch or alternatively leave your watch somewhere else and record the workout directly on the Tri and sync it later. A great way to not worry about your watch or damaging it whilst working out.
If you use the Garmin Tri with Garmin devices the software also opens up specific metrics such as vertical oscillation and cadence when running.
Polar have long had a great reputation when it comes to heart rate monitoring and the H10 is no different. Reliable and will stay in place when you’re doing CrossFit movements such as kettlebell swings. It can connect easily to other devices such as the Fenix or an Apple Watch
Not as renowned as the Garmin or Polar offerings the Wahoo Tickr-X does a similar job. It can store data without the need for a watch or companion app that works with Bluetooth & ANT+ – so it can be used with compatible devices. It might not be as fully featured as some of the other devices on offer but is a great value for money option.
What is the best fitness tracker for crossfit?
Tracking CrossFit has always been a struggle for fitness tracker manufacturers. The simple facts are that wrist based heart rate monitoring has limits when combined with lots of movements like bar bell grips or kettle bell snatches – as the sensor struggles to keep in contact with the skin. So, if accuracy of tracking your workout is important to you invest in a heart rate monitor chest strap.
If you are not so concerned with accuracy and just want to track what days of the week you did a CrossFit exercise then most of the trackers available will track heart rate, calories and distance and you will need to decide what features are important to you to to get a good idea of your best choices.
Indeed with a simple tracker and an app like Garmin Connect you could easily rename one of the exercise options as CrossFit record your workout and take a picture of the workout board, which would work really well as an accountability tacker.
Last update on 2021-02-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API