Annual Public Service Announcement: How to fix heart rate strap dropouts/spikes


I just wanted to put out a quick post as a reminder for folks that may be running into heart rate strap spiking or dropout issues with colder/dryer weather.  A dropout is when the strap monitoring your heart rate records/displays a significant and unlikely drop in your heart rate.  For example – you may be running steadily along at 140bpm (beats per minute), and then out of nowhere it drops to 65bpm for a few seconds.  That’s a dropout.  Conversely, a spike is when it randomly spikes from 140bpm to 180bpm or 220bpm (or similar).  In general, spikes are more common than dropouts – though both plague heart rate strap users – especially in drier and colder weather when you tend to have less sweat.  See below for an example of a heart rate spike:


In general, the Polar straps tend to be far better than Garmin straps – though, they aren’t 100% immune.  Further, the most recent Garmin straps (2nd generation soft straps) tend to be better than the first generation soft straps (or rubber straps), though still not perfect.  Most of the ANT+ straps are made in the same place and just rebranded for their respective companies, hence why they generally all act the same (companies can choose which level of strap to buy).  On the ANT+ side, the one strap that offers me the least trouble is actually the Magellan Switch/Switch Up HR strap.  In talking with them, they paid a bit extra for their strap over the standard offerings – which probably explains why I get virtually no spikes/dropouts.

On the Bluetooth Smart side, the Wahoo Blue HR strap is really solid and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any spikes/dropouts with it.  I know they spent a lot of time on the firmware of the strap itself (quite uncommon) addressing the problem.  Similarly, I haven’t seen many problems with the latest Polar Bluetooth Smart strap (H7) either.  But, back to fixing those straps you already have.

I’ve written a handful of posts in the past addressing these, so I wanted to call them out since I’ve seen a rise in queries about it lately.  In most cases, simply getting the strap wet (either via water/licking or HR gel) will fix it.  But I go into depth on all the methods out there.

Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part I


Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part II


An interim solution using the Polar strap with the Garmin transmitter (if all else fails, this almost always fixes it)


While we’re at it – if you run into issues with your heart rate strap cutting into you (causing a red mark/rash), see this post using The Girl’s methodology.

You’ll want to read the comments in some of those posts (specifically the interim solution one), as there’s also some fixes people have come up with around some tiny cuts to the rubber around the metal snaps to fix issues too.

For me personally, I tend to just use heart rate gel this time of year (except when I forget, and then I just lick the strap – which is usually awkward for all around me).  In fact I just ordered a new bottle of it (gel, not spit) and it arrived on Friday (random tidbit I learned on Friday: Amazon in France actually does same-day delivery, it’s nuts!).

Secondary side note: The stuff I bought this time is designed to be long lasting – as in, it’ll stay stuck to you (hence the adhesive part).  I found it comes right off a sweaty body with simple washing, and has WAY better conductivity than normal HR gel.


I don’t know what happened to my other bottle of heart rate gel, but as noted this one has so far been working great (actually, surprisingly better than normal).  It clearly has longer stickiness and lasting powers than some of my past bottles, which don’t quite last as long for longer workouts as they age.  For example with this new bottle, I had put some on during a ride yesterday, and found that my strap still had the gel on it today when I put it on for another ride.  Yeah, it was kinda gross.  But gross in a good way.  Again, it’s targeted as a adhesive, but so far, no issues.  Of course, my only concern is that the adhesives over time may deteriorate something on the strap.  So, if you’re concerned about the potential for that (again, no idea if that will happen), then just use the regular non-adhesive gel stuff I link to below.

A little HR gel bubble of awesomeness

For those US folks, here’s the exact bottle I’ve bought previously ($6 – non-adhesive) and the new bottle above ($6 – adhesive), and for those EU folks, here’s the exact bottle pictured above (€9 – adhesive).

With that, I now return you to your regularly scheduled program….

As always, thanks for reading!


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  1. Dwight

    Buh-Bump works for me plus I like the name.

  2. My Garming HR strap caused bad readings a lot, so I just put my ANT+ HR-dongle on a Polar strap and had no more issues.
    Seems the Polar HR strap is the cat’s miau!

    • Nicolas

      I had little success with the Polar strap, especially when it became logged with water (in triathlon on the swim for example).

      The cheapest replacement band I have found is the O-Synce Heart2Feel – it’s only about 15 Euros and compatible with Garmin and Polar pods.

    • patti theroux

      what does this mean? How do you put ant+dongle on a polar??

    • DC Rainmaker

      He means taking the transmitter pod from the ANT+ strap and snapping it into the Polar wearlink strap. More details here: link to

  3. Steve Knapp

    Polar had updated the strap they sell since your last post. This is the updated one:

    link to

    It is better made than the old wearlink+ strap, lasts longer and works better.

    • yannis

      Yes this new Polar Soft Strap is much better. However my experience is that it only works with Polar HR transmitters simply because if you try to clip the Garmin transmitter on it it will pop out. And if anyone has a solution for that I am all ears.

    • Daniel

      Mine popped out because the Garmin transmitter was a little wider then the strap is designed for. The simple solution was too cut the strap between the two connectors. This also removed the permanent heart rate drop issues I had after about on hour of use (probably due to being all sweaty)

    • Steve Knapp

      I have two of these straps and use them with both my garmin and motoactv pucks without issue. Doesn’t pop off.

  4. morey000

    You forgot to mention my favorite product to eliminate static spikes. STATIC GUARD!
    Spray it right on your tech shirt. works like magic.

  5. Robert Kniss

    My experience is that the once the garmin strap starts reading bad, it never gets better…not just intermitent spikes, but full on continuous high high HR. Today’s run had average heart rate of 235. I have gotten new straps from Garmin and tried the new transmitter on older straps and they worked fine…but once it goes, it never recovers. Are there any other models to try out?

    • Clukes

      Not true in my case. After re-pairing my HRM it worked just fine. I think the biggest reasons for my high readings were dry climate and static from my shirts. I just use water on the monitor like always and it now works fine.

    • Wendy

      I think the issue of spikes is the only one that’s fixed with the gel unfortunately. I’ve also gotten to the point where my average hr is well over 200 from the Garmin softstrap hrm. I was reviewing the comments here before choosing which hr strap to buy off of Amazon to work with the Garmin transmitter, but now it sounds like even the Wearlink won’t fit it. Anyone else able to find a cheaper fix than just buying a whole new Garmin strap?

    • KK

      I have found that consistently high spikes can happen if the snaps between the strap and the transmitter get a little bit corroded or just dirty. A 10 sec scrub with an old toothbrush totally eliminated the issue and kept me from having to buy a new strap.

  6. Devin S

    I’ve had nothing but problems with Garmin straps, especially during the first 5-10 minutes of activity. The gel seems to help a little, but the spikes are still there.

    I’ve been using a Bontrager strap while biking for a couple years now, and haven’t experienced any of those issues. I recently paired this strap with my running watch and it’s worked flawlessly for several weeks – even without gel.

    Rather than wetting the electrodes, I run my hand under the tap and rub water into my chest in the area where the electrodes sit.

  7. Thanks alot for a very helpful website 🙂

  8. Paul

    I have the Edge 500 and get constant spikes on cool days, esp if the wind is in my face. A vest or jacket that blocks the wind fixes it. Oter than that, rubbing my jersey and base layer with a dryer sheet works like a charm. The problem is static electricity, and that reduces it.

  9. Tim K

    Speaking of heart rate, I’m trying to some heart-rate based training. In doing some reading, I’m realizing that my heart rate is waaaay too high when I run. I’m 45 and routinely run with my HR in the 180-190 range for 45 minutes, and on the bike I see 180-185 quite often. So for the next while I’m going to try to focus on keeping it at 140 or below, which so far has meant walking up hills when I run, and not attacking hills on the bike. I’m expecting this to be an 9-12 week process.

    Ray, I think you’ve done HR based training for years. Does my plan make any sense? How about a post your personal experience with this?

  10. Heart Rate? just pinch yourself, then you know your alive. Happy Xmas Ray!

  11. Tyler

    I’m having the same experience as Robert. I don’t have HR spikes, just consistently high readings.
    I’m also having similar problems with my Garmin footpod recently. Both are of similar age (2 years).
    It’s not the batteries, as I changed both of them recently, with no improvement.
    I’m wondering if others have the same problems, and how to test if you have a bad unit vs. just some weather/humidity related thing.

  12. Robert Pineau

    Great stuff as usual! Given this stuff is an adhesive do you think it would give some extra hold to a polar strap while swimming? Or does the adhesive start to break down in that kind of moisture?

  13. Damien

    Hi Ray, FYI, EU folks get a dead link 🙁
    But thanks for your article.

  14. Eli

    Seems like dropouts and spikes are caused by a poor electrical connection between the strap and the skin, correct? This makes it seem like the Wahoo Blue HR strap’s firmware just doesn’t report hr outliers it detects while other straps report what data it detects

  15. yannis

    Just to pile on here: all my different Garmin (ANT+) straps suck compared to the Polar ones.
    As soon as Ray mentioned he had fewer issues with the Magellan HR strap I checked out the product. I would like to find a good ANT+ strap but the pictures of the Magellan that I found online show it to be (externally) identical to the 4iiiis HR strap which I own and I have many problems with.
    Also NIcolas mentioned an HR strap by o-Synce. That company has decided it does not want to do business in the US so I can not buy the strap from their online store.

    One last thing from the Polar website: “In demanding cases, if your strap has plastic electrodes, use conductive electrode lotion or gel to improve the contact. After using lotion or gel, it is very important to wash the heart rate sensor carefully. If your strap has textile electrodes, do not use conductive lotion or gel as it can block the electrode areas.” I guess that is not an issue in the ANT world but some Polar straps do not like ze gel.

  16. Great post Ray!

    We find that maintenance is key to avoiding some of the issues (or at least prolonging them). What a lot of people don’t realize is the straps are consumable pieces. They wear out. On all straps you should be washing them per the instructions(many are different). Washing them will eliminate premature death, because your sweat won’t eat away at the electrodes. But eventually, the wear/washing will wear down the electrodes to the point where they will no longer conduct. With our Soft Straps, this is like 1.5-3 years. But all brands/types will be different.

    One thing to note: we actually invented the wireless heart rate strap in 1977. So we have a little experience ensuring they last as long as possible. We are still family owned, and own all of our factories. Don’t mean to shill, that’s simply the difference in why many of you are experiencing better results with our straps.

    • Tyler

      This is a thoughtful post, Chris, and makes sense.
      This would be good info for all mfgs to include with the straps to educate us consumers who tend to think of these items as indestructrable as long as the fabric is intact.

      I’ve always thought that the electrode part of the strap gets exposed to limited moisture (seems to have a vinyl/plastic coating in area of body contact), and so had less exposure from sweat (only by wicking from surrounding material) than it would to moisture/soap with a thorough washing.
      So, I’ve tended to wash them delicately, especially around the electrodes. More aggressively elsewhere to discourage odor.
      I probably didn’t help the lifespan.

  17. Lee

    Can you recommend an edible heart rate gel?

  18. Rob

    Edible heart rate gel? Saliva. Spit is free and works a charm, at least for me.

  19. Milessio

    Try the Cardiosport Biovest (as reviewed by Ray) which integrates the heart rate strap into a undervest. It’s well made, comfortable & I’ve not seen any spikes during use. I bought mine for £43.99 in UK. I do still lick the conductive pads once I have it on, but have to use a finger as my tongue won’t reach 🙂

    Has anybody ever tried using the adhesive electrodes used for ECGs? A pity some form of link with press-studs would be needed. Might be worth the effort for hot and/or long races?

  20. Ted

    I have a Wahoo BlueHR and never had any problems with it.

    About 8 months ago, I switched to a Garmin/soft strap setup so I stopped using the BlueHR pod, but I preferred the Wahoo strap to the Garmin one.

    It has performed well, and I have just started to have spiking problems with the readings. I’m not surprised as I NEVER do any proper maintenance or washing of the strap.

    I checked and Wahoo sells extra straps for $19.95 each… if anyone is looking for a replacement soft strap, I can recommend the wahoo one.


  21. Sara Baker

    I noticed that Wahoo fitness is selling extra HR straps (just the strap, not the transmitter pod). Does anyone know if this is compatible with the Garmin transmitter pod? I think my transmitter is fine, but I need a new strap – $15 seems like a better deal than paying for a whole new thing.

    • John S.

      I purchased one of these straps last summer when my Garmin soft strap with the hook on the side went on the fritz. I did what you are asking about, which is to clip my Garmin HR pod onto the Wahoo strap. It worked fine for me. As far as I can tell, this is the same strap that Garmin sold before coming out with the current design with the clip on the side and is the same strap that most other companies are selling. (Polar seems to be the exception.) The Wahoo strap lasted roughly 6 months before going bad. That’s pretty much on par with how long Garmin soft straps have lasted for me in the past.

      The reason I was reading this post was that I’m going to order an extra strap to be prepared when my current Garmin strap dies. I was hoping that someone would have posted something about a new and improved strap, but since that isn’t the case, it looks like I’ll be ordering another Wahoo strap. I prefer the Garmin strap with the side clip, but its hard to justify paying $40 for a strap when I can spend $20 on one that does the same job.

  22. Just got the Spectra360 on Amazon for a few bucks. I have to admit I’m surprised it’s such a big tube…8.5oz – this baby will probably last several winter seasons!

  23. Will

    Great post! Is it typically the strap or the transmitter that goes bad? My garmin is giving me lots of problems. Just bought the polar soft strap set (the one just released) and electrode gel but that doesn’t seem to have solved the problem. Which strap/transmitter would be best for my garmin 500?


    • DC Rainmaker

      Typically the strap, or more specifically, the connection point between the strap and the pod, and then teh sensor strips themselves. See Chris’s suggestion above (he’s from Polar) – but it’s valid across every strap. I simply take mine into the shower after a run and give the strap a light rinse, then hang it up to dry.

  24. Will

    Also – when you say that the Magellan strap is best – is that the strap or the transmitter or both? Thanks!

  25. MaciekZ


    Thanks to your recommendation, I’ve become a happy user of Garmin 310xt. I have some questions about the Premium Heartrate Monitor and I’ve thought that this would be the best place to ask 🙂

    1. Could you please provide some pictures of how to properly wear a HRM?

    This may seem obvious, but when I wear mine the way I always did (between the chest and ribs in front and below shoulder blades on back), it gets wrinkled in the middle of its width just behind the left electrode. That does not really bother me when running but I’m affraid it might lead to damage in the future.

    I also wonder if it makes any difference where the electrodes and the sensor are placed (in the middle or to the left of the torso)? There are different images in the Web and I’m not really sure if that matters.

    2. Could you please provide some information on how you care for your HRMs?

    The Garmin’s manual says: To prolong the life of your heart rate monitor, unsnap the module when not in use. Unfortunatelly it doesn’t say what “when not in use” means (after every workout, when not used for longer period?). I’ve already saw in one of the comments that you do not do that and it works fine. I think that’s more reasonable because the snaps would get damaged pretty quickly.

    The manual also says to rinse the strap after each use and wash it every 7 uses. Right now I’m simply rinsing it with some cold running water but I’m not sure if it’s safe to leave the module on when doing that – won’t there be some faster oxidation?

    As you’re very experienced with using sports technology, I hope you can give me some pointers and best practices 🙂 I already saw How I manage 15+ Heart Rate Straps – a great idea although I only have 1, so I won’t need something like that just yet 😉

    Best regards,

  26. Marco

    I have been having some issues with my Garmin Heart Rate strap over the past years and wanted to know what brand of strap you would recommend. For the past 2 years I have used 2 of them, both broke the same way. It started showing HUGE spikes in its reading for no reason, resting heart rate at 215, even when I would not be wearing a shirt. After that I would change the battery to see if it was just that it was running low on battery and it did not work. The first time Garmin sent me a new strap since it was under warranty, the second time, not so much. Is there a brand that is more durable that the other? what is the life span of those straps? I usually rinse it of after a work out and shower with it to put a little bit of soap on it after long and hard days.

    Thanks for your help,


  27. Robert Lendvai

    I took your advice and got some Electro gel from my local medical supply store. Unfortunately, I’m still getting spikes with both my PowerCal and the Wahoo BLE HR strap. Unlike your example my spikes seem to occur towards the end of my indoor rides or treadmill runs. I’m beginning to suspect it has something to do with my shirt getting soaked from sweat. Have you seen this issue?

    • DC Rainmaker

      Indeed, I’ve seen that a few times where everything is so drenched – primarily on the exact scenario you describe – indoor runs with no fan.

      The trick I found was to take a towel and every 15-20m or so do a quick wipe of my chest under my shirt. Essentially to try and get rid of some of the excess sweat. I found that it wasn’t so much the excess sweat in my shirt, as it was the near standing water on my chest that was causing issues.

    • Fernando

      Hi Ray,

      Do you think this issue is solved with a Polar strap? I’m getting this also in outside runs (long ones), in the last 2/3 miles on sunny days, particularly when using a compression under layer. I’m using a 910xt with a premium strap. Quite annoying! I wonder why Garmin don’t solve these issues around HR measuring once and for all! I’ve seen so many customers talking about it for so long!


    • DC Rainmaker

      The Polar strap solves it for many people, but not everyone (just as even on Polar devices, it’s not 100% solved). But, it’s one of the best bets today otherwise.

  28. Grant

    Here’s what I do to eliminate the issue with spiking. Prior to a ride I use chamois cream on my bits – then I rinse my hand under lukewarm water. The combination of water and chamois cream then gets schmeared (smeared) on my chest and the contacts. That’s it. Cheap, easy and works a treat.

    Hope that helps.

  29. Wendy

    I know you have special deals with Amazon and Clever Training, so it’d be really helpful if at the bottom of pages like this, where there’s so many recommendations about different brands of heart rate straps, that you include direct links to them. My quick searching still hasn’t found me a link to just purchase the Magellan strap without the entire watch. Thanks!

  30. Chris

    I found that dialectic grease on the snaps seem to work well with the older comfort strap from Garmin. I still need a couple more runs to prove this out. It is silver in color so DON’T use alot. Mine was spiking just about every run. I have gone 3 runs with no spikes at all. The first time my heart-rate went to 220, I thought I was having heart trouble.

  31. Chip Aycock

    I have had all the same problems as others have posted using the HRM with my Edge 500. It seemed that over time the strap would just go bad and no amount of washing it and applying electrode grease would prevent the spikes and drops. I simply bought another strap, but the same problem cropped up again in about 4 months. Then something occurred to me: If the salts in sweat can build up over time and cause issues, could not the same problem occur when washing it with the extremely hard water tht comes out of my tap? As an experiment, I washed it normally, but with distilled water. Then I let it soak in distilled water for a few hours (assuming osmosis would draw the deposits from the strap to the water). Then dried the contact portions with a towel and hung it to dry. Next ride was 50 miles and it worked perfectly for the first time in months. I did the same treatment to my other “bad” strap and now it works too. I now wash them this way every couple of weeks (about every 300 miles or so) and I have not had a problem since.

  32. Al

    Has anyone had success (or failure) using Polar straps with a Wahoo pod? Just got a Kinetic inRide, I’d like to use my extra straps.

  33. JLM

    This just in TODAY from Garmin. There is a 3RD generation softstrap that has an extra contact pad to eliminate the HR spikes due to static. They are shipping me one tomorrow so will we see.

    Ray if you read this I will email a pic once I get it.

  34. Scott

    I was having spike/incorrect reading (too high) issues with mine whenever I was in aero on the bike or just starting out on the ride – the strap worked perfect everywhere else. It definitely seemed like it was a static electricity issue, so I took a dryer sheet and rubbed the outside of the plastic part of the strap and all my issues went away. 🙂

  35. Fernando

    Hi all, just got a new unit for replacement of my faulty one (after RMA request). This is a brand new model (version 3, according to the description). From a physical point of view, it’s completely different. In fact the look of it signals higher quality w/o a doubt! Let’s see how it goes “out there”! But for starters, feeling real optimistic about it!

  36. Mario

    Thanks for the review, it’s been very enlightening.

    I have a Wahoo BlueHR and as others have reported, it works flawlessly.

    Does anyone know if the Wahoo ANT+ heart rate strap have any spiking problems with readings? Does anybody know if it has a similar firmware as the BlueHR?

    If it does, it might just be one of the better options available, don’t you think?

  37. kevin

    Hi.Really enjoyed reading the comments regarding the soft Garmin straps and how changing to the Polar wearlink helped.
    I had all sorts of trouble with the Polar wearlink – in fact I bought 5 and most lasted a few weeks before becoming useless.
    I have a Keiser M3 spin bike that only works with a Polar HR.I changed the Polar strap to a soft Garmin strap and it works perfectly – the completely opposite situation!
    Maybe the factory has the Polar and Garmin strap orders mixed up.

  38. mytmous

    Woot! This saved me some $$ on buying a new strap. Mine has been acting up lately and spiking from 115bpm to 260+. Checked the manual, as someone else suggested and sure enough, you’ve gotta clean the thing. I washed the contacts with a little dish soap and now it works like a champ. Once again, this site has saved me some money and headaches.

  39. Richard

    I have used several Garmin Wearlink straps over the years and found they start giving abnormal readings after about 800km (even when washed after workout, used contact gel, etc)
    I have used other straps that are ANT+ compatible and less expensive like the Adidas miCoach strap, but this one last only 700Km, even when washed after every workout.
    Now I have ordered the latest Polar Wearlink strap to use with the Garmin ANT+ transmitter, no idea if it will work but It’s only 17 Euro’s so why not give it a try.
    Polar mentioned a lifetime between 1.5-3 years for their strap, but more usefull would be to know how many hours/Km’s/Miles a strap will last.

  40. Richard

    I have ordered the latest Polar Soft strap (link to to use with a Garmin and Adidas Ant+ transmitter, but this combo doesn’t workt as the transmitter keeps snapping out of the contacts.
    As Ray already tested the Polar Wearlink+ with a Garmin transmitter I’ve ordered the Wearlink+ model to see how this one holds up over time.

  41. r00b

    Have you tested with the TomTom Multisport in the cold yet? I had to take the month of October off due to a broken bone and now when I run I see huge spikes at the start of the run that look very similar to your graph. Wondering if the cold is the issue or if its something else I should see a doctor for. I didn’t see spikes before but it was warm outside.

    • It uses a pretty similar OEM’d Bluetooth Strap as other companies, nothing special there from what I’ve seen unfortunately. Given it’s cold now, it’s likely the same problem (it’s not the watch, it’s the strap). I’d start with wetting it, and then beyond that try the gel.

  42. brent

    Its time to replace my garmin HRM strap for my 910. After all the reading I’ve done on your site and elsewhere I want to go with the Magellan Switch/Switch Up HR strap. Trouble is I can’t find just the strap for sale without the pod. Any ideas? My back up was the Polar Wearlink strap but seems you can’t finds that one with out the pod either, just Polar’s “soft strap” witch is wearlink compatible but not the same strap as you get when you purchase it with the pod. I want this next strap to not only work but also last and be comfortable I’ve seen booth of the these straps in person and they seem a cut above the others in quality if I can just find one with out the added cost of being included with a pod. Any help would be greatly appreciated. thx

    • Hmm…I’d ring up Magellan Support, they may be able to help out.

      That said, check out the new HRM3 straps, anything made after July 2013 is dramatically better. The challenge is that it’s mostly a firmware issue. You may have some minor success in calling Garmin up to get a replacement strap if you’re is being problematic…

  43. jimbo

    I have an edge 500 and after multiple HR issues, I found this great forum. I started using gel and bought the polar strap, which worked for a couple of months. Now, either the sensor isn’t detected or if it is, the numbers are way too high. I’ve replaced the battery multiple times, put a piece of metal between the contacts to try to ‘reset’ it, etc…with no improvements. It drives me crazy.

  44. Pete

    So many similar issues, so may solutions. My H7 worked fine for a week but has now started spiking and dropping. It was very humid and I sweated up a storm, but even after cooling down and having a shower it was still spiking and dropping when I put it back on to try fix the issue. I know there is a lot of discussion on the strap, cleaning it, contact with the body etc – but, I also have a standard coded Polar dongle. Same strap, same fit, just change the unit from H7 to coded, and it works perfectly.
    So it cant be the strap in this instance, or the H7 connectors to the straps as it’s brand new?

    I do maintain and wash the straps, but again the H7 strap is only a week old.

    Ive pinged Polar – lets see if I get anything from them??

  45. Paul

    Ray, in your opinion what is currently the most reliable ANT+ strap and sensor combination for reduced drop-outs in cold weather?

  46. Ted W

    Thanks for the link to this post. That Tensive adhesive style you have. Is that still your preferred? Where do you place it on say the HRM3. just on the smooth contact strip or on the grey woven area also? I read that its sticky. if its sticky does it cause any chaffing? I think since I have so many dropouts and spikes, I think I will try something out. Trying to decide on the Parker Labs Tensive adhesive or the Spectra 360 you also have used.

    • It’s preferred, only because it’s just what I happen to have. Both work fine. I put it just on the smooth part (the part that touches you), not the woven area. No issues with chaffing and sticky (actually, it reduces it, since it keeps it from moving, which is the cause of chaffing).

  47. Filipe Santos

    Hi, Ray! Thanks for the amazing blog. It really helps many newbies like me!

    I believe my problem is a bit different. The heart beats fall too much for an extended period of time. I replaced the battery but it did not work. Have you seen this problem before? Thank you in advance!

    link to

    Obs.: I’m from Brazil and I needed a bit of help from google translator

  48. Matthew

    Has anyone tried Tensive adhesive conductive gel, also from Parker Labs? Claims to eliminate need for tape and is designed for eeg, so perhaps a good fit. Also seems like it would also reduce the load on the strap by sticking the pod directly.

  49. Marco

    Question for Ray and other experienced HR strap users.

    My training is based on HR (using Sporttracks and TrainingLoad plugin). It is very annoying to deal with spikes/drops/failure of the HR strap as it colors the data and introduces extra work (correcting the data).

    I have experience with Garmin HR straps, that is: HRM1, HRM2 (2nd generation), HRM3.

    All these straps work fine for the first year or so. After that they _all_ start to fail randomly. I understand this is most likely related to build up of invisible salty sweat residu? But since HRM2 I am always: rinsing/wetting before use, rinsing after use, machine-wash after several times of use.

    What can I do? Is it worth to invest again in another Garmin HRM-run HR strap? Or step over to optical HR straps? Are they reliable? Or maybe just stop using Garmin and step over to Polar/Suunto?

    • That’s pretty much all you can do to be honest. For the most part, the straps are all build by the same companies for ANT+ straps. The Polar strap is a bit thicker, and thus might last a bit longer.

  50. Jon Niehof

    Marco, I’ve just been in conversation with Garmin and they’re sending me a new strap, since they’re warranted for one year. They tend to start acting up for me at four months and reach the point of unusable in six to eight.

    Garmin is now recommending “don’t use with synthetic clothing” (right, I’m going to run in cotton), “radio transmitters nearby may interfere with the strap picking up the heart impulses” (like the transmitter right on the strap?) Also, based on my experience, I expect them to start suggesting “don’t use while sweaty” (seriously, sweat makes it lose contact) and “don’t bounce while wearing” (it does seem to be a bit better on the bike.)

    CleverTraining just emailed me that my RHYTHM+ shipped. I am SO looking forward to it. It makes the newer Garmin watches with the HRV tracking and HRM+ features less useful, but I guess that means I won’t be spending money on a new Garmin. Hopefully by the time I’m up to iron distance there will be something with better battery life (does suck for long hikes in the meantime).

    • Jon Niehof

      Oh, I should also say: Garmin told me that there have been no updates to the transmitter proper from HRM1 to HRM2 to HRM3, just the strap, so you can buy just the strap and get as good as it’s going to get. (Which contradicts what I thought Ray had said at some point.)

  51. Fábio

    Hi Ray, I bought the garmin forerunner 610 hrm3-ss in 2013, and a short time ago I started having problems with the hrm, often do not read the pulse, and sometimes th3 pulse is not correct. At the time i replaced the battery and remained the same. Which solutions i have to this problem?

    Best regards


  52. Fábio

    Hi Ray, I bought the garmin forerunner 610 hrm3-ss in 2013, and a short time ago I started having problems with the hrm, often do not read the pulse, and sometimes th3 pulse is not correct. At the time i replaced the battery and remained the same. Which solutions i have to this problem?

  53. Brad

    My Garmin strap was ok for 2-3 years and I finally replaced it with a new one. That one was ok for 3-4 MONTHS, and it has been useless lately. All super high readings. Amazing how we can send a ship to the far reaches of space, but can’t develop a decent heart rate monitor!…sorry, just frustrated.

  54. Russell

    Gel didn’t help me. Only answer seems to be to buy a new H& every 4 or 5 weeks. On my third one now. Same issue starting again. Works fine for about a month then starts getting really stupid. Zero changes in routine or care. The junk just stops working.

    • Ted W

      Swear I had same problem. managed to get some replacements from Garmin. what did work is the Ethyl alcohol bath mentioned in comments above. only a couple bucks, give it a try.

  55. Frustrated

    I have a hard time believing that it is a conductivity problem when I am literally pouring sweat. It only happens occasionally. Will aloe work as a conductive gel?

    • Not sure about aloe, I’d just look to buy regular gel. I’ve seen cases where pooling sweat can cause issues (hot/humid summer days). When that happens, I just do a quick and simple swipe under the strap and it seems to solve it. Obviously, easier for a guy than a gal.

    • NickMN

      I found an article about just that… using aloe (green sunburn stuff) as a conductive gel in the winter or dry conditions. Has a lot of positive(minor) attributes for skin and antseptic properties, compared to a normal gel as well.

      I am going to try Aloe Vera gel this weekend – already have it, one less thing to be laying around the house. They said you could mix a dash of salt if you wanted to up the ante on conductivity.

      Otherwise typically a splash of water from the tap works for me (plus a little on shirt for static) – if i really want accurate early HR readings it would be nice to have a better option.

    • Bailey

      Did the aloe vera gel work well for you?

  56. Ted W

    I am not a chemist, but for me (lose alot of salt when I sweat) that I suspect there’s some type of buildup that simple hour water soak of washing machine doesn’t help. but the Ethyl alcohol cleared it right up. as for friction and chaffing which is on /off problem) the 3M micropore tape is awespme

  57. Gianmaria

    I followed dcrainmaker advice and start using a polar strap with my garmin forerunner 410. It worked well for few months and then the spikes returned. Tried to wash well each time, with plain water and then with water and soap. Tried also to wash with alcohol. This sometimes worked but just for one single workout.

    But finally I found a real working solution. Before running I dip the strap in a glass of water. I keep the strap in water about ten minutes, the time I need to dress up. I don’t put all the strap in water, just the part of the strap with the sensors (electrode). My polar strap is 18 months old. I used this trick each time for the last twelve runs in the last month and the problems are definitely disappeared. I run about 4 times a week about one hour at ~10 degrees.

    Now after run, I didn’t wash it (I did it only once in the last month) and I dry it like always on a radiator until the next day/run.

    My hypothesis is that with aging the sensor lost the capacity to absorb water as a new one and licking or putting some water is no more enough. But dipping it in the water before run fix the issue.

  58. Eric

    I have a slightly different issue than those reported here. My heart rate readings will be pretty good for the first 30 minutes or so of a run, maybe ranging between 150-180 bpm, but maybe 30 minutes in to my run, the bpm’s will start dropping and hit as low as 70. It never recovers from there. Any thoughts?

  59. Ryan

    How do you guys know that your HRM is in error and that your heart isn’t actually doing that?

  60. Sue

    I use a Polar Bluetooth strap, with a Polar V800, and I get heart rate spikes later in the workout. The early part of workouts read fine, and the problems start later. This doesn’t make any sense to me in terms of sweat for conduction… I am sweatier later in the workout. Thoughts?

  61. John

    For four years, I have been using the Polar H7 with my iPhone to record my heart rate all day long. I have had atrial fibrillation (now fixed), but continue irregular heart rate. So I monitor to ensure that the atrial fibrillation has not returned (I am asymptomatic). The upshot is that the H7 measures heart rate both during exercise and not exercising (most of the time). I use Buh-Bump cream. This system works very well…most of the time.

    Here is the important part. After about a year of use, the sensor belt starts sending spurious high values. Sometimes they are the majority of readings. Solution: buy a new belt when it starts to send bad values.

  62. Beth

    Ray, I’ve been using a new Wahoo TICKR with Tacx 2 and connect to my Garmin 935 to compare. From the start (Nov) all heart rate Zwift rides results as viewed in Garmin Connect show virtually no drop outs while the same rides as recorded by the watch all show an inconceivable amount of drop outs.

    The watch is also connected to the Tacx but to no other Bluetooth devices. I am running the app on an iPhone 8 with the hdmi adapter cables to the tv, so no other Bluetooth devices are in the same room.

    I recorded a Zwift run at the gym, same dual recording with the TICKR to the iPhone & watch, and there are no heart rate drop outs.

    Any ideas??? As always, thanks for your awesome site!

  63. Oddrain

    I rode with a Polar H10 this morning in Bangkok. Temperatures were over 30C and I was dripping. Strap was tight, just below my chest muscle, but HR still was in a dropped out state for about 60% of the ride. The unit had just been replaced by Polar, but it was still the same strap. Had the same issue with 3 Wahoo units and one Bontrager. They always last 3 to 6 months and start to fail. I have tried conductive gel, but that doesn’t help. Are these things just fickle in higher temperatures, is there salt build up on the strap despite being rinsed after every ride, is something else going on, or is it just me?