Garmin HRM-Pro review: a premium heart rate monitor for athletes

The Garmin HRM-Pro is a solid investment for Garmin watch wearing, data-hungry runners, triathletes and cyclists

T3 Platinum Award
Close-up view of the Garmin HRM-Pro heart rate monitor
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Garmin HRM-Pro is an expensive piece of tech, but also a clever one. Capable of tracking advanced running metrics, the HRM-Pro gives specific insights into whether you are overstriding, your step turnover is too slow and how long your feet are contacting the ground. And it's helluva precise, too.

Reasons to buy
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    Will connect to multiple devices via both ANT+ and Bluetooth

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    Provides detailed running metrics

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    Specific, more detailed insights if you’re training to heart rate zones

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    Swimming data uploads instantly

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    One-year battery life

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    Compact form factor

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Running metrics only available to Garmin watch users

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    Expensive

In this Garmin HRM-Pro review, we’ll analyse what this clever heart rate monitor strap has to offer, how it works, how comfortable it is to wear and more.

The HRM-Pro is the best heart rate monitor on the market today and offers dual transmission and advanced running dynamics for the not-so-low asking price. Basically, it’s a very clever heart rate strap giving you everything you could want in terms of workout data.

For swimmers, being able to gather all your data while you aren’t wearing your watch is also a major advantage. Once the strap is on it gathers all your general activity stats as well as your training; even if your Garmin watch is on the charge, you still get your steps. If you would never consider doing any kind of workout without your Garmin watch, this would be a worthwhile investment.

Garmin HRM-Pro review: Price and availability

The Garmin HRM-Pro is available to buy now (went on sale in September 2020) at Garmin for a recommended retail price of £119.99/$129.99/AU$159.99.

Garmin HRM-Pro review: Features

One of the main features the Pro offers you, is transmitting your real-time heart rate data over both ANT+ and Bluetooth, giving you access to it on multiple devices at the same time, including Zwift. More impressive, the HRM-Pro captures your running metrics, giving you the option to improve your running technique.

You’ll be able to look up your ground contact time, cadence, and stride length. However, if you don’t already own a Garmin watch, you can’t access this feature, making it a very clever marketing tool when it comes to increasing this brands’ sales. 

The device has enough storage to collect your heart rate data during swimming or other activities while your watch is out of range, then send it to your watch when your activity is finished. You don’t have to wait for the strap to catch up with your watch. By the time you get out of the water, the sync will have already happened. It has 18 hours of internal storage, so you can get in a lot of workouts before it begins to overwrite your workouts.

It will also store your steps, calories, and intensity minutes, then sync them to your watch as well. However, it doesn’t create a workout file, as you get from Strava when you start an activity. It will store all your personal activity data and the data of your activity, but it won’t give you a workout to upload to Strava. This means, if you still want this to happen, you are going to have to switch your GPS watch on and off; some will find this faffy. 

Close-up view of the Garmin HRM-Pro heart rate monitor

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin HRM-Pro review: Build quality and ergonomics

HRM-Pro features a small, lightweight heart rate monitoring module that is no wider than the width of the soft, comfortable strap. It’s very easy to use the clasp to get a fit that is right for you, and you can make it very big, or very small, so it will work well on younger athletes and more petite women. The monitor is housed in plastic, which will make you sweat in warmer weather. This is a good thing as this type of tech works better when your skin is damp.

It’s low maintenance, with the coin cell battery lasting for up to one year and you can keep an eye on the battery status of the strap within your Garmin Connect app. You’ll never really be bothered about how clean the unit is, or uncomfortable; once you’ve established the habit of putting it on before you work out, you’ve then just got to stop thinking about it.

It doesn’t take long; within a few workouts, you won’t pay much attention to it. This is easier for women as you can tuck the strap under the band on your sports bra and it won’t budge and feels comfortable. It’s also going to be easier for women to use in the pool, as it's under your swimming costume; men may find that the strap moves around more.

I haven’t used it enough to see if excessive pool use may corrode the strap-like it does swimwear but compared to older HRM on straps this one is streamlined and hardly noticeable.

Close-up view of the Garmin HRM-Pro heart rate monitor

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin HRM-Pro review: Verdict

The Garmin HRM-Pro is going to give you much more accurate heart rate data than wrist-based wearables, making it essential for serious athletes. It might also appeal to those athletes who can’t wear a watch during their sport, such as water sports, team sports and martial arts.

By also storing your steps and calories burned it’s giving you a seamless insight into your day if you do abandon your watch. For those in the Garmin ecosystem who are serious about their stats and improving technique, this offers an alternative, cheaper option than visiting a sports science lab.

It’s probably unlikely that anyone is going to keep it on all day, although someone somewhere will find it that addictive! But if you are already a Garmin fan and have a Garmin watch, the HRM-Pro will give you even more data than ever before. For those who don’t want to be tied to their watch, it quickly becomes addictive, and if you’re a multi-eventer it’s worth getting. 

Garmin HRM-Pro review: Also consider

If you simply want data on your running and nothing more, invest in the cheaper Garmin HRM-RUN, or the Wahoo Tickr X, which comes in at half the price. If you don’t have a Garmin watch the HRM-Pro is going to be less attractive, although of course, this could be an excuse to buy a new triathlon watch

Tina Chantrey
Tina Chantrey

Tina is fitness editor for Women’s Running magazine and published two books in 2020, The Little Book of Zen and Reflexology: Your Personal Guide. She is a UKA running coach, England Athletics Mental Health Champion and has her own running group, #runTLC. Follow her on Instagram @runtlc.uk