As a CrossFit and endurance athlete, I know how helpful a good quality fitness tracker can be. Not long ago, fitness watches were bulky, extremely expensive, and weren’t all that accurate. I’d go for an open water swim and the watch would tell me I’d somehow swam over land!
Fitness trackers have become very affordable, and their quality has sky-rocketed. I’ll cover some cheaper CrossFit watches in this post, but if you want my own top choice, check out my post on the Apple Watch vs Whoop debate (and why I wear both at my CrossFit workouts).
Which of these watches is the “best” for you is subjective, but overall, if I had to pick just one watch for my box workouts it would be my Apple Watch Series 7. After 5 years of doing CrossFit with various Apple Watches, I can highly recommend it (pair with Whoop for super tracking!).
The Top Crossfit Watches Reviewed
Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy...
|1.27 oz||Check Price|
Apple Watch Series 7 [GPS 45mm] Smart Watch w/ Midnight Aluminum Case with...
|1.08 oz||Check Price|
Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker with Built-in GPS, Heart Rate,...
|1.06 oz||Check Price|
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active (40MM, GPS, Bluetooth) Smart Watch with Fitness...
|0.90 oz||Check Price|
HUAWEI Band 3e Smart Fitness Activity Tracker, Dual Wrist & Footwear Mode,...
|0.64 oz||Check Price|
Polar Verity Sense - Optical Heart Rate Monitor Armband for Sport - ANT+...
|3.2 oz||Check Price|
Find the Crossfit Watch for You
#1- Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker with Built-in GPS, Heart Rate, Sleep & Swim Tracking,...Check Price
Fitbit has become synonymous with quality fitness trackers. So much so, that the name Fitbit has become a catch-all term for fitness watches, like when people called every MP3 player an “iPod”. The Fitbit Charge 4 is an update to the Charge line, which comes with some excellent new features.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is a lightweight band. There are no pieces that will poke out and into your skin, making it super comfortable to wear.
The Fitbit Charge 4 tracks steps, heart rate, and sleep. It can also track other metrics during your workouts, like distance if you are running or biking. One of the best features of this watch is that you can use it for outdoor swimming workouts, which a lot of watches cannot do. The water resistant design and GPS make this a great option for open water.
You can also set the watch to buzz at certain heart rates, so you know if you are in the correct training zone or not. The Charge 4 can also read your body temperature throughout the day and during the night to monitor your recovery. Another cool feature of the Charge 4 is the 90 day free Fitbit premium trial which gives you access to different tracking features and workouts.
- Use built-in GPS to see your pace and distance on screen during outdoor runs, rides, hikes and more and see a workout intensity map in the app that shows your heart rate changes along your route
- With Active Zone Minutes, feel a buzz when you reach your target heart rate zones during exercise, and celebrate when you earn extra minutes outside of exercise
- Use 24x7 heart rate to track resting heart rate & better measure calorie burn. Syncing to mobile devices requires Bluetooth LE and internet connection. Syncs with Mac OS X 12.2 and up, iPhone 5S and...
#2- Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts,...Check Price
Garmin is a leader in the fitness watch and tracking industry. For a long time, they were the only company making high-quality, GPS-enabled watches. The Vivoactive 4 takes the same experience and quality Garmin are known for, and puts it into a smart watch.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch has a ton of different settings and capabilities. You can download music from apps like Spotify directly onto the watch. You can also customize the watch face with thousands of different options. There are many other apps you can download on the touchscreen watch, including things like Uber or banking apps.
One of the coolest features of this watch is the Pulse Ox. This measures your energy levels, using metrics like your sleep, your menstrual cycle, your breathing, your hydration, and more. This is invaluable to the Crossfit athlete as the watch can help you decide whether you are fresh to hit your next WOD, or if you should consider a rest day.
You can pair this watch with your phone, so if you get an important work text or call during a workout, you can quickly answer. The watch also comes with some really important safety features. You can set emergency contacts in the watch, so if you’re in trouble, say you get lost on a hike, the watch can send your coordinates to your emergency contact. This can give you some extra peace of mind when taking your fitness outdoors.
- Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition), respiration, menstrual cycle, stress,...
- Easily download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon music or Deezer (may require a premium subscription with a third party music provider), and connect with headphones (sold...
- Record all the ways to move with more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming and more
#3- SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active (40MM, GPS, Bluetooth) Smart Watch with Fitness Tracking, and Sleep...Check Price
A leader in technology, Samsung has come out with an Active version of their smart watch. The watch is sleek, has many different settings and capabilities, and has an affordable price point.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active automatically detects up to 7 exercises, while it can do another 39! This means that you can track your WOD, even if you have a bunch of different exercises. If you go from deadlift to rowing, the watch can still keep tracking!
The watch is also water resistant, and can be used for the pool.
You can download music and pair the watch with your android or Apple device, so you have control of your music wherever you’re working out. The watch will also alert you if you are heading towards being overtrained with its continuous heart rate and sleep tracking.
- Track your way to real results automatically detects up to seven exercises, while tracking up to 39 more, right from your wrist
- Resolve to rest better Helps you analyze your sleep patterns and encourages you to wind down to keep you refreshed and at your best. Compatible Devices - Samsung Smartphone, Non-Samsung Android...
- Sends you real time alerts if ever detecting a high or low heart rate, so you can be more proactive about your heart health
HUAWEI Band 3e Smart Fitness Activity Tracker, Dual Wrist & Footwear Mode, 5ATM Water Resistance for...Check Price
The Huawei Band 3e is an exceptionally affordable option in the fitness watch category. At $19.99, it is easily the most affordable option on this list.
The watch tracks heart rate and sleep, which you can see in the smartphone app. You can also track your fitness with the watch, for activities like running, biking, swimming, or free weights. The watch is water resistant, and I’ve been using mine for open water swim workouts for a couple years now with no issues.
In the newest update of the Band 3e, you can remove the watch from the band and clip it onto your shoe. While clipped onto your shoe, the watch monitors your running form, which you can check in the app later. This is great for Crossfit athletes, who typically don’t have the best running form.
The Huawei Band 3e retails for $19.99.
Polar Verity Sense - Optical Heart Rate Monitor Armband for Sport - ANT+ and Dual Bluetooth HRM -...Check Price
Along with Garmin, Polar is another giant in the wearable tech realm. The Polar Verity is a sleek, affordable option, with a trusted brand name behind it.
The Polar Verity does not have a watch face on it. So you won’t be able to see your data until you get to your phone. But sometimes, this is exactly what we need. Less distractions while we’re in the middle of a workout can be a good thing. Do you need to know that you miss that telemarketer call? Probably not.
The Polar Verity measures your heart rate, along with other metrics, during your workouts. A cool feature of the Verity is that you can clip it onto a pair of swimming goggles for pool-based workouts. If you’re doing a WOD of pushups and pool lengths, this might be the perfect watch for you.
The Polar Verity retails for $89.99.
Crossfit Watch Buying Guide
What Is a Crossfit Watch?
Fitness watches fall under the category of “wearables.” Fitness watches are wearable fitness trackers, which can track things like heart rate, sleep, recovery, training, and some even keep time!
The Benefits Of Fitness Watches
Heart Rate is an excellent metric to use for your training. You probably remember checking your heart rate in PE class using two fingers. While this works, it isn’t super accurate. It’s also tough to take your heart rate when you have little or no rest periods. By using a fitness watch to track your heart rate, you can instantly see your heart rate. This can be helpful because by knowing which heart rate zone you are currently in, you can ensure that your workout is doing what you want it to. We can put our heart rate into 5 zones. The first two zones are aerobic work, the 3rd zone is your threshold, and zones 4 and 5 go into anaerobic work. So, if you are doing a WOD, where the focus is aerobic conditioning, but you find yourself in zone 3 or 4, you know you need to back off the gas a bit. Remember, harder is not always better. If you just kill yourself every workout, you’ll burn out quick!
Heart rate can also tell us whether or not we are ready for another hard workout. This is called Heart Rate Variability, or HRV. If we normally have a resting heart rate (first thing in the morning) or 150 beats per minute, but one morning our resting heart rate is 160, this can be a signal that our body needs an extra rest day. This is an oversimplification of HRV training, but a good starting place if you haven’t used it before.
Most fitness watches now track your sleep throughout the night. Through the use of different measurements, your watch not only tells you how much sleep you’re getting, but how deeply you are sleeping. If you are noticing a lack of deep sleep over the period of days or weeks, you know you need to do some research or see a specialist to help improve your sleep. Even though I generally sleep all night, after tracking my sleep for a few nights I noticed I was getting almost zero deep sleep. I talked to my doctor, and changed my vitamin levels, and when I got more deep sleep, my workouts AND my body felt better.
This is a less common and newer function for fitness watches. Pulse Oximeters measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. They do this by emitting a light through your skin, to see the oxygen latched onto your blood cells. As we train, our bodies adapt in many ways, one of which includes the ability to use oxygen more efficiently. Therefore, as we train, we should see our oxygen efficiency increase.
We can also use a Pulse Oximeter to measure recovery. If we wake up one morning with a lower oxygen reading, and we just had a super hard workout the day before, we might be heading towards overtraining, and maybe we should just take the day off.
While most Crossfit gyms have their own clocks, we can’t always use them. Sometimes Bill is hogging the clock for his 90 minute EMOM. Sometimes the clock is running and maybe you’re not great at math. Having your own watch allows you to easily track your own rest and work times. A variable we can change, other than just the weight on the bar, is our rest time. If we can’t add any more weight on the bar, we can cut our rest times down. But if we don’t know what our current rest times are, we can’t change them effectively.
We’re always looking for ways to make our fitness more functional outside of the gym, right? Shouldn’t our fitness gear be the same? Fitness watches today can look super sleek and fashionable, so you can wear it straight from the gym to your date and still keep track of time.
What To Look For When Purchasing A Fitness Watch
What do you need your watch for? Do you just want to keep track of time? Do you want to monitor your heart rate and sleep? Are you concerned with increasing your aerobic capacity? Are you looking for more metrics to monitor and aid recovery? Are you wanting to take your watch into the water? Or long bike rides?
You should ask yourself all the questions above, and that will help you narrow down which watch is best suited to your needs.
Just as important as function is the fit. A fitness watch is something that you will be wearing during your workouts, and potentially the other 22 hours of your day, including your sleep! You don’t want something that will leave marks on your skin when you wake up or something you need to fiddle with during your work day. Fit is tough when buying online, so check the company’s return policy before buying. Also, read reviews and see if anyone comments with a similar body type. For example, if you have tiny wrists, and someone writes a review about how that watch doesn’t fit on skinny wrists, you should take notice.
One bonus to fitness watches is that almost all of them come with adjustable bands. So unless you have abnormally large or small wrists, you should be fine.
Look both at the manufacturer’s specs as well as the reviews online. You want to look at the watch’s battery life when it’s new, and after a few months. Also, do you need a watch that can track workouts over 6 hours? If you’re an ultra-marathon runner, maybe, but I doubt most Crossfit athletes do. Transversally, you don’t want your watch dying on you half way through the day.
Aesthetics surely shouldn’t be your top priority when buying any fitness equipment, but we know that we are more likely to exercise when we feel good about it, and looking good is going to make us feel good. If we feel cool when we workout, we’re more likely to do more of that.
Additionally, because you might be wearing your fitness watch all day, it might be more important than some other fitness equipment items in terms of how it looks. You don’t want to head into an important work meeting with a garish neon pink goliath strapped to your wrist. But make sure you prioritize function over form.
Are there apps or functions you’d like your watch to be able to handle outside fitness needs? Do you want to be able to receive calls and texts or use other apps on your watch. If you’re looking for functions outside general fitness needs, you’re likely looking at a higher end watch.
Some fitness watches also come with programmed workouts. If you’re looking for something like that, Fitbit might be your best bet.
FAQs for Crossfit Watches
Can Fitness Watches Track Open Water Swims?
Some of them can. For example, the Huawei Band 3e can track open water workouts.
Can Fitness Watches Improve My Sleep?
Fitness Watches can help you see if you have a current problem with your sleep, but they won’t fix the issue on their own. Used in combination with other methods, fitness watches can be very effective in improving your sleep.
How Do Fitness Watches Help in Recovery?
Fitness watches measure a number of metrics which can tell you how well you are recovering from your workouts. These include heart rate, sleep quality, and oxygen levels. You can check these metrics each morning, and see whether or not this is a good day to train hard.
How Long Will My Fitness Watch Last?
It depends on the company, the model, and how you take care of your watch. I’ve been using my Huawei Band 3e for the past few years with no issues. I use it for open water swimming, gym workouts, running, and sleep tracking. I have a friend with the same watch and theirs broke after one year.
Can Fitness Watches Track Different Exercises At the Same Time?
It depends on the watch. Some fitness watches will only record the activity you tell them you are doing. If you select “weightlifting” and start running, the watch will continue thinking you are lifting. Other watches can automatically tell which exercise you are performing, but even then this is a limited technology, only available in higher-end watches.
Do I Need A Fitness Watch?
Absolutely not. Fitness watches, as popular as they are becoming, are just a tool like anything else. Do you need a weight belt? No, but it will help you lift more and put more stress on your muscles. Do you need an expensive pair of shoes? No, but they might make your workouts more comfortable and therefore more enjoyable. Fitness watches are great for tracking metrics and optimizing your workouts, but they are far from required. Although, a watch might be helpful to ensure you get to your Crossfit class on time!
Other Wearable Tech
Maybe a watch isn’t your thing. Maybe you don’t want to be wearing a watch all day every day. You just want to track some key metrics from your workout and live the rest of your life unencumbered by technology strapped to your wrist. Here are a few other pieces of wearable fitness tech to consider:
Misfit Wearables Flash
- Splashproof disc with red LED progress and time display
- Smart button enabled to control connected household devices
- Automatically tracks steps, distance, calories, and light and heavy sleep
Misfit Wearables have a reputation for sleek, simple wearable tech. They look like a watch, but the face has no display, other than a light to tell you it’s working. The Flash tracks distance, steps, sleep, and calories and will sync its information to your smartphone. The Misfit Flash is water resistant, but not intended for swimming.
Wellue Oxyfit Fingertip Health Monitor
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Maybe you were intrigued by the Pulse Oximeter feature of the Garmin Vivoactive 4, but you didn’t want to shell out a couple hundred dollars? The Wellue Oxyfit is a pulse oximeter that slides over your finger. You can measure your oxygen levels each morning, and track change over time. This can help determine how well you are recovering from your workouts. The Oxyfit Fingertip Health Monitor comes in just below $100, making it one of the more affordable options for tracking oxygen levels.
Form Swim Goggle
- SMART DISPLAY: Built right into the goggle lens. See activity metrics without obstructing your vision.
- FORM Swim App FREE: on iPhone and Android. Sync your swims and review your metrics out of the water. Can sync swims to Apple Watch and Garmin Watch. Share your swims on popular fitness apps like...
- PREMIUM DESIGN: Chemical-resistant coating, anti-fog, replaceable silicone eye seals, custom nose bridge sizes, and adjustable silicone strap. Waterproof up to 32 feet (10 meters). 1-year limited...
As a swimmer, I geeked out hard when I first saw the Form Swim Goggle. These goggles have a built in display that show you metrics while you are swimming, in a way that does not hamper your ability to see where you’re going. You can use Form Swim Goggles for pool WODs, and you can see your distance, laps, and heart rate, as well as feedback on your stroke. In the open water, you can pair your Form Swim Goggles with a Garmin or Apple smartwatch to track distance and feedback for your strokes. At $200, these will be the most expensive goggles you ever buy, but they might just be worth your money.
- Use the Magene H64 heart rate monitor to accurately track heart rate, cadence, and calories burned during your workouts. Connects to your ANT+ & Bluetooth 4.0 devices to provide data in your favorite...
- Use the Magene Utility App for initial set up. Then the H64 is compatible with ANT+ devices including Garmin, Peloton, ZWIFT, ONELAP, & more. Also works with Bluetooth connections such as Wahoo, Nike,...
- Adjustable chest strap is easy to set up and use. Finely woven elastic strap is soft, durable, and light. The inner layer protects the sensor from moisture to ensure accurate measurements. Strap...
Before fitness watches, there were chest strap monitors. Like the name suggests, the monitor is worn on a chest strap. There’s no display on these monitors, they pair with another device, nowadays this is your smartphone. You can also pair a chest monitor with a fitness watch like a Garmin. You might wonder why you would need the chest strap if you already have a fitness watch, and the reason is that the data from a chest strap is thought to be more accurate and reliable than devices worn elsewhere. You can pick up a strap for less than $40.
Apps For Tracking Metrics
When I first started tracking workout metrics, I put all of my data into a spreadsheet. This created a messy, chaotic Excel document that was a nightmare to open. Luckily, there are alternatives now! One of the best options out there is Training Peaks. You can enter your training data from almost any activity, and Training Peaks will give you a Training Stress Score (TSS). This score allows you to see how fresh you are, and whether you should be hitting a hard workout, doing some recovery work, or simply taking a rest day.
When choosing a fitness watch, there are many factors to consider. What do you need your watch for? What metrics do you want to track? What activities do you want to track?
However, out of the options we tested, the MorePro Smart Watch is our all-around favourite option. The MorePro Smart Watch has all the basic fitness watch metrics. It tracks heart rate, sleep, and a variety of activities including running and biking. The MorePro Smart Watch has a great battery life, and an even better price tag at $53.99. This is significantly better than the most expensive watch on our list, the Garmin Vivoactive 4, and all you are losing is the ability to track open water swim workouts and Pulse Oximeter functions.
If you want the open water distance tracking, we suggest the Huawei Band 3e, which you can attach directly to your goggles. This also happens to be the most affordable option on our list, at around $20 USD. One downside to the Huawei band is that it will not sync up with Strava or Training Peaks, which a lot of fitness enthusiasts like. Instead, Huawei will make you use their own app. But for an entry level watch, the Band 3e has a ton of great features for the price tag.
If you want the Pulse Oximeter to measure your oxygen levels, we recommend the Garmin Vivoactive 4. The Vivoactive 4 will also sync to Training Peaks or Strava, so this is a great option for more serious/invested athletes.
If you don’t want to be constantly distracted by the watch beeping or flashing, you might want to consider the Polar Verity Sense. This wearable has no watch face, so you won’t be distracted. You simply throw the band on, start the tracking on your phone, and go. When you finish your workout, you can see the metrics on your smartphone.