AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into Polar RC3
The RC3 is Polar’s first integrated GPS and heart rate monitor (HRM) sports watch. It is not quite as technical as the Polar RCX5 being more similar to the RCX3, but with a convenient internal GPS sensor. The Polar RC3 is packed full of features that enable you to get more from your training. These include Sports Zones (5 x autoset heart rate zones based on age set or manually entered max heart rate)
The Sports Zones help you train at the right intensity and Training Benefit that gives you instant feedback after every session, so you can monitor your progress each and every time. If you want to save on GPS battery, then you can pair the RC3 with the WIND bike speed and pedal cadence sensors to give accurate speed, distance and pedal RPM data.
Who Is It For?
The Polar RC3 is NOT a highly technical watch like the Polar V800. It does not have interval timers nor does it have data field customisation. So, if you are a very technical athlete, please consider the V800. What it is a competent training aid for anyone who cycles, runs or similar outdoor aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times per week – someone who wants to know how far, how fast and at what intensity, and importantly, providing what training benefit.
This is a great training watch to keep an eye on their training intensity, making sure you are not overtraining. At the same time as giving objective feedback about each session, it will give you the hard facts, how far, how fast and how hard. In summary it is suitable for MOST recreational / moderately competitive athletes who want an all in one GPS speed and distance heart rate monitor
Polar started selling heart rate monitors in 1976. CardioCritic have tested & reviewed most of the Polar heart rate monitors & fitness trackers released since 1996
Main Features and Functions
RC3 and Cycling:
You select between RUN, CYCLE or OTHER each time you train. When running it will display RUN specific data, similarly, when CYCLING it will provide bike specific data like SPEED in MPH instead of minutes per mile.
It provides bike speed from either the integrated GPS within the unit or a wireless WIND bike speed sensor. If you want pedal cadence, then there is also an option to add a Polar WIND cadence sensor to the crank (magnet) and chainstay / seat tube For people with more than one bike it can store setting for 2 bikes (wheel size, cadence on/off etc).
The RC3 is designed for all aerobic exercisers, not just running and cycling. In the “other sports” mode you still get the essential data views like, heart rate, calories, speed and distance (if enabled), training time etc.
In the “other sports” mode it will NOT pair for a bike speed sensor, nor a cadence sensor or a stride sensor – it will only pair with the heart rate belt and the G5 GPS unit. We found this “other sports” mode was useful for sports like swimming, gym training, walking etc.
The Polar RC3 is IPX7 water resistant. This means it cannot be used for swimming. It is fine to get SPLASHED while running, biking etc, but it should NOT be swam in.
The RC3 GPS multisport watch provides motivating feedback that’s delivered straight to you immediately after exercise is something we can all benefit from. If you want to know the trianing effect of different training sessions, this feature will tell you exactly what you need to know.
You get a quick overview after each session, and for more detailed feedback, you can either check your training file or you can get further in-depth analysis at polarpersonaltrainer.com.
For anyone who is looking to improve their fitness and wants to keep up to date with how well you’re doing, the Smart Fitness Test will tell you exactly what you need to know in just five minutes. By regularly comparing your test results, you can see what progress you are making and how your fitness is improving.
The Training Load helps you to find the perfect balance between rest and training. Find out your training load status at polarpersonaltrainer.com.
It shows you at a glance your cumulative training load for every day, advising if and when rest days are needed and when it’s best to train harder in order to maintain your performance improvement.
The Polar Zone Optimiser feature ensures that you always train at the right intensity. Knowing how hard to train can be a challenge.
By using ZoneOptimizer, you can get the exact training effect you’re looking for as the feature adjusts your five heart rate training zones to perfectly match your body’s current physiological condition
This is the most accurate calorie counter on the market. It calculates the number of calories expended during a training session based on your weight, height, age, gender, your individual maximum heart rate (HRmax) and how hard you’re training.
Body Measurement Features
- Average and maximum heart rate of each lap
- Average, minimum and maximum heart rate of training
- Heart rate – bpm / %
- HRmax (age-based)
- HRmax (user set)
- Polar Fitness Test
- Polar OwnCal® – calorie expenditure with fat percentage
- Polar OwnCode® (2.4 GHz W.I.N.D.) – coded transmission
- Polar sport zones
- Polar ZoneOptimizer – personalized sport zones
- Polar Training Benefit
- Compatible with Mac (Intel-based) via USB cable
- Compatible with PC via USB cable
- Compatible with polarpersonaltrainer.com via USB cable
- Training files (with summaries) – 99
- Weekly history
- Automatic lap recording
- Graphical target zone indicator
- Number of laps – 99
- Sport Profiles (5 fixed sport profiles)
- Time of day (12/24h) with alarm and snooze
- Date and weekday indicator
- Dual time zone
- Water resistant – IPX7
- Low battery indicator
- Rechargeable battery
- Display text in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish
What’s In The box ??
- Polar RC3 GPS watch (black)
- Charging and data transfer cable
- “Getting Started Guide”
- OPTIONAL HRM strap
- OPTIONAL Bike Speed and Cadence sensors
During this review of the Polar RC3 we had to take it outside and put it through it’s paces. This way we get to learn about the watch as a genuine user. We always give ourselves two or three sessions during a test before we come to any conclusions. Our inability to operate a watch is not necessarily a negative.
The RC3 is however, one of the easiest GPS running watches that we have had the pleasure to test and review. When running with the Polar RC3 you can toggle between 7 data screens. It can be configured to give either 2 or 3 lines of data per screen, depending on your preference (and eyesight).
When in RUNNING MODE it displays speed as PACE, i.e. minutes per mile or min/km as required. The 7 data lines displayed cannot be changed, but between the 7 screens, there is pretty much everything we wanted to see at hand in a convenient format (we would like to see average lap pace, when autolapping during a race for example).
These data fields include all the essential fields like : lap time, lap distance, total time – total distance, live heart rate (displayed either as BPM or %MAX), HR zones, and running pace (or bike speed)
It also has an autolap feature which will automatically store the lap data every “x” miles. I normally set this to 1 mile when running and 3 miles while biking.
After the session you can review your auto saved mile times with associated heart rate data. At the end of the run session, you can check your Running Index.
Running Index score is calculated automatically after every run, based on your heart rate and from the speed data collected from your GPS or stride sensor. A higher reading indicates that you can run faster with less effort
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