We don’t know anyone out there who actually enjoys wearing a chest heartrate monitor. It’s just plain uncomfortable most of the time, no matter what you do. Fortunately for us, there are other options out there. And we recently had the pleasure of testing a particularly comfortable option—the RHYTHM+, an armband heart rate monitor from Scosche.
If you’re familiar with wrist-based heart rate monitors, this is somewhat similar. Of course, the RHYTHM+ straps onto your arm rather than your wrist. It reads your heart rate through your skin via an optical sensor on the back of the unit, and it pairs with any compatible Bluetooth Smart or ANT+ device.
When you unbox the RHYTHM+, you’ll notice that it’s a fairly simple device made up of two parts—the monitor itself and the neoprene strap (Scosche includes two straps—a small and a large). The primary tester for the RHYTHM+ was our multisport editor, Tracy. She used the small-sized strap for the entirety of testing. And of course, you’ll find a USB charging cradle in there as well.
Using the RHYTHM + was super easy. As we’d mentioned earlier, it can connect to any ANT+ device that supports heart rate data, like our Garmin. Or, it can also connect to any Bluetooth Smart device, like your smartphone (using a fitness app that supports Bluetooth Smart sensors, of course). To turn it on and/or pair, you just push the rubber top, which has a button embedded inside. The indicator light would flash blue and red until it had a connection and was ready to go. If you’re pairing the RHYTHM + for the first time, you’d just search for the sensor on your device, and then save it. If you’re turning it on after it’s already been paired, you’ll know that the device is ready once it starts flashing steadily/slowly blue.
To strap on the armband, you just select which size is best for you, and then thread the ends of the band through the slits on the side of the monitor itself. Each strap has a Velcro end, so you can easily tighten/loosen as needed, even while running or mid-ride. Obviously, you really can’t do that with a chest strap heart rate monitor. The RHYTHM + is meant to be warm fairly high on your forearm, pretty close to your elbow. We found that we did have to tighten it pretty securely to ensure it stayed put during particularly tough run efforts where we’d be pumping our arms a lot. We discovered this one day when the RHYTHM + started to shimmy down our arm in the middle of a quarter-mile repeat workout. Fortunately, we were able to simply scoot it back in place and retighten the strap. After that, we just made sure to tighten it just a bit more when prepping for an intense speed session.
The RHYTHM + is waterproof and sweat proof, which meant we could easily wear it for racing and training days when we had a swim/run or swim/bike planned.
As for accuracy, we found the RHYTHM + to provide accurate heart rate readings for all of our cycling and running activities. In fact, we found it to be more reliable than other wrist-based heart rate monitors we’d tried in the past. What’s more, it was also very comparable to our chest-based heart rate monitor. When we wore each for similar workouts, each provided readings right in line with each other.
As for battery life, Scosche claims that the RHYTHM + will last up to 8 hours of workout time. That would certainly meet your needs for a 70.3 distance race or below. And while this monitor won’t last for an entire IM, that’s honestly fine for us. During an Iron-distance race, we’d mainly be concerned with having heart rate data available on the bike in case our power meter was to die. Otherwise, we would utilize our power data primarily. For us, we tend to leverage heart rate as more of a training tool.
If you’re on the market for a new heart rate monitor option, we’d highly recommend the RHYTHM +. It provides reliable data, comfort for hours, and is very easy to use. You can pick one up for yourself on Scosche’s website for $79.99 in four color options—black, green, blue, or pink.