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Top 6 Garmin Watches with Heart Rate Monitors | PlayBetter Buyers Guide

GPS watches and heart rate data go hand-in-hand for active, health-conscious types. And over the last decade, Garmin has brilliantly refined both of these fitness features.

In this article, we're taking you on a quick and thorough trip through the top 6 Garmin watches with heart rate monitors, showing you how and why this technology works.

From the affordable Garmin Lily for women to the tricked-out fenix 6 sport GPS watch to the Venu 2 with the latest Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor to even an advanced golfers watch that provides heart rate data—Garmin has got you covered with the premium health-tracking features that can help you optimize your workouts and overall well-being!

Find the Best Garmin Watch (and Price) to Track Your Heart Rate

We go over details below. Short on time? Jump to the Table of Contents
or click on a watch image in the comparison table below!

Garmin Watch Heart Rate Data Features Comparison Chart

GARMIN LILY INSTINCT APPROACH S62 FORERUNNER 945 VENU 2/2S FENIX 6
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  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • Respiration rate (24/7)
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • VO2 Max (run)
  • Respiration rate
    (during exercise)
  • Body Battery™
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • Respiration rate
    (during exercise)
  • Body Battery™
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • % HRR
  • Auto max HR
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • Body Battery™
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • % HRR
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • Respiration rate (24/7)
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • VO2 Max (run)
  • Respiration rate
    (during exercise)
  • Body Battery
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • % HRR
  • Auto max HR
  • Recover time
  • Training load
  • Training effect
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • Respiration rate (24/7)
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • VO2 Max (run)
  • Respiration rate
    (during exercise)
  • Body Battery™
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Daily resting HR
  • Abnormal HR alerts
  • Respiration rate (24/7)
  • All-day stress
  • Sleep
  • HR zones
  • HR calories
  • VO2 Max (run)
  • Respiration rate
    (during exercise)
  • Body Battery
    energy monitor
  • % HR max
  • % HRR
  • Auto max HR
  • Recover time
  • Training load
  • Training effect

What Can the Garmin Elevate Heart Rate Sensor Track?

Get Basic Heart Rate Data

Go beyond with a bigger picture! All of these Garmin watches provide wrist-based heart rate (HR), daily resting HR, abnormal HR (high and low), respiration rate 24/7, and HR zones.

Sleep Tracking & HR Data

Track your total time slept in addition to durations of movement and restful sleep during rest periods. The Garmin Elevate heart rate monitor has improved that ability to better analyze sleep time, breaking down when you've had good quality snoozing.

VO2 Max

Your VO2 max score is the key to understanding your fitness level. It describes the maximum rate at which you can bring oxygen into your body, transport it to your muscles and use it for efficient aerobic energy production.

Recovery Time

Know when it's best to work out! Recovery time provides an estimate on how long it will take for you to fully recover and be ready for your next workout. This time can range from 0 hours to 4 days.

Body Battery Energy Monitor

Get insights about what drains you! Keep track of your energy levels with Body Battery, a feature that uses a combination of heart rate variability, stress, and activity to estimate a user's energy reserves throughout the day.

Training Load & Effect

Get more insight on the impact of aerobic and anaerobic training on your body with Garmin's Training Effect/Load features. You'll know if your sessions highly improved your fitness or if you didn't give yourself enough recovery time before working out again.


How Does the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor Work?

Garmin uses optical science to calculate your heart rate more precisely. Noninvasive sensors, located on the back of your watch, shine LED light on your wrist that can detect fluctuations in blood due to changing blood flow during your heart's expansion and contraction. This allows the Garmin Elevate optical sensor to calculate heart rate data from moment to moment.

Sweat, vibrations, temperature fluctuations, shifts in posture and movement, and even changes in the distance between the device and the user's skin can all produce signal noise and interference. Garmin technology uses G-sensors to filter out this external "noise" to provide you with precise readings.

Unlike many other fitness trackers, Garmin Elevate operates at two different sensing frequencies: in periods of low activity or rest the sensor operates on low-frequency sensing mode, but switches to higher-frequency sensing as soon it detects increased levels of physical activity. So no matter whether you are undertaking a high-intensity work out or enjoying a rest period, sensing functions continue to operate ceaselessly and with precision all through the day.

As you can imagine, this technology gives you more personalized heart rate data, allowing you to make better decisions about when to rest and workout and the kinds of workout you should do.

Guide to Garmin Watches with Elevate Heart Rate Monitors

Basic Heart Rate Info

All Garmin devices offer wrist-based heart rate, abnormal heart rate, daily resting heart rate, all-day stress, and sleep tracking.

Pulse Ox for Blood Oxygen Saturation

The Venu 2/2S and Venu Square, the Forerunner 245/745/945, the fēnix 6 lineup, and tactix Delta tactical watches all provide this feature.

VO2 Max Fitness Level:

All current Forerunner GPS running watches, the Venu 2/2S and Venu Square sport smartwatches, fēnix 6 outdoor fitness watches, and tactix Delta military smartwatches have this feature that gives you an in depth look at your fitness level.

Advanced Heart Rate Analytics

Features like Training Effect and Training Load come out of the box with Forerunner 245/745/945 multisport watches for runners, all fēnix 6 adventure GPS watches, and the tactix Delta models.

Best Garmin Watch with Heart Rate Monitor for Women

The Lily is an affordable fitness tracker and Garmin heart rate monitor watch designed for women.

You can track you wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, respiration rate (24/7), and get abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor all-day stress and stay informed about the quality of your beauty sleep.

Heart rate zones, VO2 Max, and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you extra insights into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's optimal to workout and when you should rest, take it easy, get better sleep, or eat/hydrate more.

Plus the ability to track women's health and get smart notifications on your wrist make this a highly useful and affordable Garmin watch for ladies who want to dial into their daily routine on every level.

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

Garmin Watches for Women

Best Garmin Golf Watches for Women

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Best Heart Rate Monitor Watch for Men

The rugged Instinct GPS tactical watch packs all the essential heart rate data alongside great sport and adventure features in one wearable perfect for active men.

Not only is this durable watch built to military standard and loaded with GPS oomph, you can track you wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, and get abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor all-day stress and stay informed about your sleep quality.

Heart rate zones and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you extra insight into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's optimal to push it and when you should rest, take it easy, get better sleep, or eat/hydrate more.

This premium GPS watch is ideal for hunters tracking dogs or using bows and those who like to train or hike in more challenging environments—all for a not-so-premium price!

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

Best Garmin Hiking Watches

Best Tactical Watches

Garmin Military Tactical Watches FAQ

Best Garmin Military Watches


Best Golfers Watch for Tracking Your Heart Rate

Pair premium golfing features with the Garmin Approach S62 golf watch that gives you valuable heart rate data, on and off the course.

Not only does this 1.3" touchscreen display GPS golf watch integrate critical information and mapping on the course, you can get critical data about your overall health with wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, and abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor all-day stress and stay informed about your sleep quality.

Heart rate zones, Pulse Ox, and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you extra insight into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's optimal to push it and when you should rest, take it easy, or get better sleep.

The Approach S62 is perfect for golfers who want to go into a round—and even their daily routine—with all cylinders firing!

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

Approach S12 vs S42 vs S62

Introducing the Approach S12

Introducing the Approach S42

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Best Garmin Watch with Heart Rate Monitor for Runners

If you're a runner, the Forerunner 945 offers the most advanced heart rate data that the Garmin Elevate optical sensor can provide.

Like all Garmin watches, you can track wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, respiration rate (24/7), and get abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor all-day stress and how your sleep quality is affecting your training.

Heart rate zones, VO2 Max, Pulse Ox, and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you extra insight into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's optimal to workout and when you should rest, take it easy, get better sleep, or eat/hydrate more.

Furthermore, advanced features like Training Effect and Training Load, give you an even more robust picture of how your body is supercompensating after workouts, to know over a period of time when your body benefits more from more intense workouts.

While the Forerunner 945 provides the ultimate in running analytics, the 245 and 745 offer the same advanced heart rate data. For more information, read our suggested blogs below or visit our the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 745 on PlayBetter.

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

Best Garmin Running Watch

Garmin Running Watch FAQ

Garmin Forerunner vs Apple Watch 6 vs Fitbit

5 Best Garmin Running Watches


Best Overall Watch with Garmin Elevate Optical Sensor

Why is the Venu 2/2S the best watch with heart rate monitor? Because it's the first watch to be packaged with the new Garmin Elevate 4 optical sensor technology.

With more infrared sensors and sensor paths added, it has greater accuracy with heart rate, sleep tracking, and Pulse Ox. When we had our partner at Chase the Summit review the Venu 2, he found the heart rate monitor to be very accurate after taking it out on several runs along with the Garmin fēnix 6S and the Polar H9 chest strap. Notably, the Venu 2 kept up with the chest strap better than the fēnix! So, even if you're not an avid runner, you'll know that this GPS smartwatch with gorgeous AMOLED display has been put to the test!

With the Venu 2/2S you can track you wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, respiration rate (24/7), and get abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor all-day stress and stay informed about the quality of your beauty sleep, which has proven to be more accurate in several reviews.

Heart rate zones, VO2 Max, Pulse Ox, and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you added insight into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's the best time to workout and when you should rest, take it easy, get better sleep, or eat/hydrate more.

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

Venu 2/2S Sports Watch Upgrade Review

Venu 2/2S vs Original Venu and Vívoactive 4

Venu 2 vs the Apple Watch Series 6

Garmin Venu 2/2S FAQ

 

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Best Garmin Fitness GPS Watch for Tracking Your Heart Rate

The fēnix 6 outdoor multisport watch offers the most advanced heart rate analytics that the Garmin Elevate optical sensor can provide. So, you can get valuable fitness data and use it to your advantage, even when you're pushing yourself to the limits.

Like all Garmin watches, you can track wrist-based heart rate, daily resting heart rate, respiration rate (24/7), and get abnormal heart rate alerts. Plus monitor stress throughout the day and how your sleep quality is affecting your training.

Heart rate zones, VO2 Max, Pulse Ox, and the Body Battery energy monitor also give you additional perspectives into your workout levels, stress levels, and when it's best to workout and when you should rest, take it easy, get better sleep, or eat/hydrate more.

Furthermore, advanced features like Training Effect and Training Load, give you an even more robust picture of how your body is supercompensating after workouts, to know over a period of time when your body benefits more from more intense workouts.

Get more details from the PlayBetter blog:

fēnix 6/6X vs fēnix 5X Plus

Should You Buy a fēnix 6/6S/6X Multisport GPS Watch?

Garmin fēnix 6 vs Apple Watch 6 vs Fitbit

5 Best Garmin Running Watches


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