The best gym trackers and wearables to work out smarter

Our picks for HIIT, spinning, treadmill, strength and CrossFit training
The best wearables for the gym
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Fitness trackers and smartwatches have been notoriously underwhelming for gym-goers, but there's a new breed of wearables designed for strength, Crossfit, HIIT and gym-based workouts.

The latest gym-focused wearables can guide you on your form, exertion and reps to help you get the best results faster – and focus on the recovery you need to hit your goals.

Whether you're a die-hard gym bunny that loves spinning, or you're just looking for a way to add accurate information from your sessions to your daily activity tracking, there are wearables to better suit you.

Below are some of our favourite wearable gym aids, whether it's for HIIT, weights, spinning, treadmill training, CrossFit and even boxing.

Best wearables for HIIT training

If you're training using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) methods, it's heart rate that's your primary concern. That's because your heart rate will tell you if you're pushing yourself hard enough during your intense intervals and will let you know how much you've recovered during the rest intervals.

Whoop Strap 3.0

Price when reviewed: $25 a month subscription

Whoop Strap 3.0

The Whoop Strap 3.0 is a supremely useful wearable for HIIT training, or CrossFit and pretty much every kind of workout you can imagine. If you wear it in the right place.

Its focus isn't on tracking metrics like distance or reps. It's all about tracking recovery between workouts.

If you're a seasoned CrossFitter, you'll know that recovering between sessions is critical so you can smash your next WOD. The Whoop Strap 3.0 is a heart rate monitor you wear 24/7 on your wrist or on your upper arm thanks to a range of accessories. In our experience, the best results happen when you wear it on your bicep for workouts.

From there, it will track your heart rate during a workout, attributing a 'Strain' score to the session so you know how hard you've pushed yourself. You can also see your live heart rate, perfect for HIIT.

In between workouts, the Whoop is monitoring your resting heart rate, heart rate variability and your quality of sleep overnight. This contributes to your 'Recovery' score, which lets you know how prepared you are for your next workout. It can even give recommendations on how hard to work out based on your recovery level.

We were impressed during testing and it's since become a constant in our workout arsenal. Be sure to read our full Whoop Strap 3.0 review for more details.


Polar Verity Sense

Price when reviewed: £79.99

Polar Verity Sense

Not everyone gets on with wearing a chest-based heart rate monitor or trusts the heart rate that's fired out from their watch. So there's another solution in the form of heart rate monitor armbands and one of the best available right now is the Polar Verity Sense.

The Bluetooth and ANT+ Sense can be paired with a host of wearables and, along with real-time heart rate data, dishes out calorie burn information, too. Worn on the forearm or the upper arm, it uses optical sensor technology, but unlike putting that tech on the wrist, it can cope better with arm movement and motion that can impact on accuracy.

It's essentially based on Polar's OH1 armband, improving the strap and the case that holds it in place to prevent it from flipping over when you start moving. You'll get 20 hours of battery off a single charge and a useful 600 hours of storage when you want to workout away from your phone.

There are alternatives out there like the Wahoo Tickr Fit and the Scosche Rhythm24, but we've spent a lot of time with the Sense for HIIT and we think it does a great job of updating heart rate rapidly, which is vital for HIIT-based exercise monitoring.


Nexus

Price when reviewed: $299

Nexus

Made by the same team as the Push Band - the wearable aimed at professional athletes and sports teams to assist weightlifting - the Nexus compression sleeve instead looks to add science to CrossFit workouts.

The wearable sits inside the sleeve and provides automatic exercise detection, repetition counting, round-by-round splits, cadence, a work-to-rest ratio figure and even a power metric that calculates intensity into a raw figure.

When we spoke to Push CEO Rami Alhamad during the Kickstarter campaign for the Nexus, he described how the form factor was much more friendly for CrossFit athletes, since it isn't intrusive of the wrist.

And along with tracking the metrics above, the aim of Nexus is to essentially have a coach on your arm that feeds back into the companion app. Once a workout is completed, wearers will be able to see a breakdown of their overall performance, which also builds up over time to provide a look into long-term strengths and weakness and how workouts have varied.

Check out our Nexus review to find out how it shapes up for CrossFit training.


Strength training

If your exercises focuses around strength training, most likely what you want to be able to track is the number of reps you're lifting. There are wearables out there that can automatically detect the type of lift you're doing, such as bench press or deadlifts, then count the reps so you don't have to.

One of our picks below takes a different approach, however. It looks to actually improve your strength performance, so if you're chasing a new 1RM it could be the key to unlocking your potential.

Coros Pace 2

Price when reviewed: £179.99

gym trackers update

Both Garmin and Samsung offer some form of rep tracking for strength training and bodyweight training on a host of their watches. Newcomer Coros does too on its range of multisport watches and of the ones we've tried, it's the one that feels the most reliable if spending time with the weights is your big priority.

All of the Coros watches offer a dedicated strength mode where you it can count reps, focused on the upper body. The Pace 2 is the lightest watch in its collection if you want the most unobtrusive option. When in that strength mode you can see keep a close on sets and there's a muscle heatmap in the companion app to see which areas you've been focusing on.

While it wasn't 100% on the money for capturing every single rep, it was certainly more reliable in doing the job than Garmin and Samsung watches we've tried with similar support. The presentation of the data on the watch and off the watch is better executed and if you want something that can track runs, swims and cycles with the added bonus of rep counting, this is the best we've tried.

Have a read of our Coros Pace 2 review to see how it fared as a training companion.


Best wearables for treadmill

Tracking outdoor running is pretty easy for wearables these days. They will simply use GPS location either from a built-in sensor or piggybacking the GPS in your paired smartphone. These use satellites to detect your location and this can then be used to trace your running or cycling route, as well as your pace.

But if you do your exercise indoors on a treadmill, GPS won't work. Luckily, a treadmill will already tell you your pace and distance information. Instead, these wearables will give you information on how you run, from cadence to stride length, all in order to help improve your running.

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Price when reviewed: £299.99

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

As you'll find on pretty much all Garmin watches, there is a dedicated treadmill mode and it's one you can calibrate to make sure you get accurate data for your sessions.

We could pick the Forerunner 45 or even the 945, but the 245 is a strong option to look to for treadmill runs. The heart rate monitor holds up well on the accuracy front and you do of course have the ability to pair up an external chest strap or a footpod like Stryd to ramp up that accuracy.

You'll have those core running metrics covered and if you opt for the music version and with Connect IQ support you can look for additional data fields and watch faces that are better suited to showing off indoor running stats.

In general it's performed well for us indoors and if you can make sure you nail that first calibration, it'll help get you data you can trust.

The 245 is one of our running watch faves and its abilities for indoor running is just one of the reasons why.

Check out our Garmin Forerunner 245 review to see our comprehensive verdict.

Apple Watch Series 6

Price when reviewed: £379.99

Apple Watch Series 6

Pretty much every sports watch and most smartwatches are capable of tracking indoor runs using the same method of the onboard accelerometer motion sensor. Unlike the Garmin above, the Apple Watch Series 6 (and Watch SE) doesn't support the ability to manually calibrate it to better match your treadmill. If you do get hold of a treadmill that's compatible with Apple's GymKit, you can get the accurate tracking hit and combine it with what Apple's smartwatch to get a more complete tracking experience.

Even without that manual calibration support, we've found the Series 6 to be a good performer for indoor runs and with one of the best wrist-based heart rate monitors we've tested, it held up for steady and interval training runs well.

You also have the added bonus of app support, which can help add variety to that time spent on a treadmill. There's a host of Apple Watch running apps focused on indoor running like Aaptiv for example, that can bring some structure to treadmill runs, so that's worth keeping mind too.

While watchOS brings the same software experience to the Series 6 and the SE (and older Watches that support it), the Series 6 feels better equipped for running in general and would be the option we'd suggest going for if you're planning to train indoors and outdoors.


Best wearables for boxing

Anyone who's ever done some shadow boxing or had a sparring session will tell you that boxing is a great way to workout. It's not just about slugging it out. If you're using boxing as a way to get fit, wearables can detect everything from punching power to how many punches you throw.

PIQ Robot

Price when reviewed: £89

PIQ Robot

Following a recent deal to partner up, sports tracking joint PIQ and US-based Everlast have now launched their first wearable dedicated to boxing — the PIQ Robot.

The sensor-packed wearable actually shares its form its tennis tracking sibling, allowing you to get a grasp on punch speed, G-force at impact and retraction time for punches. Since AI tech is also on board for the fight, it means throws are analysed in real-time on the companion app to provide you with feedback on how to punch harder, faster and more efficiently.

Wareable verdict: PIQ Robot review

You can even track those shadow boxing sessions in front of the mirror, as well as bag work and sparring sessions. Like Moov's option, this is designed for fitness boxing, as opposed to heavyweight battles inside the ring.


FightCamp

Price when reviewed: From $439 ($39 monthly subscription)

FightCamp

From the same startup that brought us the Hykso punch trackers, the outfit has taken those impressive boxing wearables and built it into a boxing-powered fitness platform that currently only works on iOS only devices.

Whether you just pick up the trackers because you already have your own punch bag and gloves or you go all in on the full Fightcamp experience, you'll need to pay up to the monthly subscription service. In return you'll get to jump into classes that cover total body and core strength-style workouts.

Classes range in duration and will incorporate time hitting the back introducing you to key boxing punches and uses the trackers to monitor your performance. You'll be able to see punch count, punch rate and output in real-time to make sure you're keeping up with your trainer.

Workouts are regularly added to its library to make sure there's plenty of variety and the workouts will do you make you sweat. If you prefer to get your fitness fix through punching things, Fightcamp is a great way to do it.

We put it to the test at launch and you can give our Fightcamp review a read to find out what we made of it.

Best wearables for spinning/indoor bike

Like High Intensity Interval Training, Spinning is often based around heart rate data. In fact a lot of HIIT training is integrated into your spin classes.

Wahoo Tickr X (2020)

Price when reviewed: £64.99

Wahoo Tickr X

When you're on a bike, a static one at that, attaching them to other parts of your body can be a whole lot more effective. That's where the Wahoo Tickr X, a heart rate monitoring chest strap with added smarts, comes in.

As well as offering unwavering heart rate tracking, the Tickr X plays host to its own sensors that when running can measure distance, and in a spinning class can keep tabs on your cadence, a favourite and relatable metric of cyclists.

The upgraded version has an improved design to make it lighter to wear, has storage space for 50 hours of workouts and will go for 500 hours before the battery needs changing.

Yes, there are many who don't like wearing chest straps, but we found the Tickr X to be pleasingly comfortable and in no way restrictive during our tests. The strap is easily adjustable, and you don't need to have it uncomfortably tight for the sensors to pick up a solid reading.


Moov Now

Price when reviewed: £47.95

Moov Now

It's an oldie, but the Moov Now is a Wareable favorite and still going, giving you the option to track and receive coaching in a number of sports and exercises at a high level of consistency.

We loved it for running and swimming, but it's also great for indoor cycling. Especially if you have the Moov Sweat HR headband to combine it with as well.

Once you've placed the sensor around your ankle like you do for run tracking, it can be used for HIIT cycling where it will tell you to increase cadence or intensity to be able to comfortably get up to the next target interval zone.

We've used this one a lot and it really will make sure you push yourself to get the most out of your indoor cycling session. It's also powered by a standard coin cell battery so you won't have to replace it for at least six months.

Wareable verdict: Moov Now review


Best wearables for yoga

Just because Yoga takes a slower pace than most other workouts, it doesn't mean it can't still be intense. There are also a lot of metrics you'll want to keep tabs on, from your breathing to your form.

NadiX

Price when reviewed: $249

NadiX

There are a bunch of yoga apps for the Apple Watch while fitness trackers from the likes of Fitbit offer limited support for yoga tracking. So if you want something built for yoga, these smart leggings could be a good fit.

Wearable X's Nadi X Pants and Pulse are a line of yoga clothes that react to your body. They're embedded with technology that senses how you're moving and uses haptic vibrations to correct your movements.

So, for example, if your form is off around your hips or knees, the vibrations there will signal to you that you need to tighten up, or move a certain way. Everything syncs to your smartphone app, iOS or Android, and the pants basically work by themselves.

The clothes are available in four sizes and four colours – midnight, midnight grey, black and white, and navy grey.

Wareable verdict: Nadi X review