Any athlete that does a lot of weight training will know how incredibly challenging and demanding it is to stay on top of your sets, reps, and weights at the gym. When you add tracking fitness levels to that, you could end up struggling to manage it all and it can feel overwhelming.
But a lot of fitness trackers out there haven’t been suitable for lifting weights, as they simply don’t add much value.
Now, let me say that none of them will be able to keep track of the weight you’re lifting, or whether you’re on a dumbbell or barbell.
But we tested loads of them to see how our clients that spend a lot of time on weights would benefit.
Our Top Fitness Tracker For Weightlifting (September 2023)
1 - Garmin Forerunner 935 (Editor's Choice)
We like this fitness tracker from Garmin because it could be one of the lightest watch style ones we found, making it a comfortable and practical choice.
It also has smart features like HR tracking on your wrist, or with an optional strap for the chest for more accuracy.
I've had a positive experience with this device, as it provides information about my speed, duration, and heart rate during workouts. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that the device has been around for a while, and its prices haven't seen substantial declines over time. Although I was fortunate to purchase it on sale, finding a three-digit price reduction in most stores remains challenging.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity, performance
- Weighs less than 50 grams so you should barely notice it
- Provides training feedback to help you get the intensity right
- Optional chest strap may provide more accurate HR data
- Some of the features require multiple menus to see the data
We just found that the menus might be a bit less user friendly.
2 - Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch
If you’ve used a Fitbit fitness tracker and want to move a step up to a smartwatch, then the Versa 2 could be a fantastic and worthwhile choice.
Many athletes like the mobile app that comes with it as you could use it to set and track your overall goals.
This device offers a range of features that help me stay motivated and achieve my fitness goals. The built-in workout modes and tailored coaching features allowed me to remain motivated and push myself harder at the gym.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity, sleep
- May help you analyze your rest and recovery period
- Fitbit app may help with setting and tracking your goals
- Store all your activity in one place
- GPS tracking is only available through a smartphone
It says that it would track distance and pace, but it needs your smartphone’s GPS to do that.
3 - Apple Watch Series 8
The Apple Watch Series 8, introduced in September 2022, features minimal changes from its previous generation, with the addition of notable temperature sensors, including one beneath the screen.
This watch is entirely water resistant, making it excellent for steamy weightlifting gyms with inadequate air conditioning and ventilation.
Using the Medications app on this device, I effortlessly ensured I never missed my vitamins and supplements. This is just scratching the surface – users will uncover plenty of tools, including the capability to quickly craft personalized exercise routines and track heart rate zones.
However, one of the downsides of this watch is it tends to be on the pricier side, making it not accessible for the majority of people.
- Highly functional
- Impressive sleep tracking capabilities
- Comes with different styles and color options
- Not the best budget option
4 - Fitbit Inspire HR Fitness Tracker
Another excellent and reliable option with real time heart rate monitoring is the Fitbit Inspire. A lot of people claim that it has precise measures despite being so small and reasonably priced.
The size is also probably why bodybuilders with small wrists like it for lifting heavy stuff during strength training. Fitbit is one of the best fitness trackers band in the market, as users rave about their sport watches.
In its menu section, I found a search feature like Google's search engine, offering multiple pre-saved foods for convenient access input when tracking your dietary intake.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity, calories burned, sleep
- The design makes it small and lightweight to avoid getting in your way
- One of the cheaper options with HR monitoring
- Simple rest data may help you plan better recovery periods
- Some hand movements may trigger activity tracking
One thing that still seems to be a problem with Fitbits is that some hand movements register as steps.
5 - Garmin vívomove HR
Another one from Garmin on our best fitness trackers list for weight lifting, proving their consistent quality. This Garmin fitness tracker claims to give you good V02 max info, which could be helpful for bodybuilding sets.
We also liked that it seems to be easy to get the info you need with a simple touch of the screen.
- What it measures : activity, stress, sleep, V02 Max
- May help track your aerobic performance by tracking V02 max
- Claims to have a detailed sleep tracking to stay on top of your rest phase
- Seems to be easy to select different data during weight training
- Only provides an estimated heart rate
Just keep in mind that it’s estimated heart rate tracking you get, which may not be precise enough.
6 - Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker
This fitness tracker industry is popular in many types of sports even with swimmers because it seems to have a good database of activities.
And the different strap sizes might be helpful if you have muscular forearms.
During my testing of Fitbit, I found their approach to presenting extensive data over several days particularly impressive. They've made it easy to comprehend by offering week-long charts and multiple daily views, all conveniently displayed on a single screen.
They also allow data to be exported in various formats, even to third-party applications, enabling minute-by-minute export of heart rate data, among other features.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity
- Claims to have constant and accurate HR monitoring to get details about resting rate
- Suitable for many different sports, including swimming
- Comes with different size bands for larger wrists
- Limited information available on the display
We just found that the screen doesn’t show enough info in real-time.
7 - TicWatch Pro 4G LTE Cellular Smartwatch
What’s cool about the TicWatch is that it doesn’t rely on your phone to receive messages.
But the reason we put it on the list is that it claims to have military-grade toughness.
You’ll know why that’s important if you’ve ever hit your watch off a barbell.
Despite being slightly thicker than most competitors, I felt that this watch maintains a surprising level of lightness and comfort when worn. It served as an alternative to my phone, particularly during workouts.
I effortlessly connected it via Verizon Number Share, enabling me to make and receive phone calls and exchange text messages, all without the need for my phone to be nearby or even powered on.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity, sleep
- Claims to use smart sleep tracking to better assess your rest time
- Military-grade durability should protect from knocks at a weight rack
- Water resistant design also makes it suitable for swimming
- It’s not one of the smallest fitness watches
For some people, it might just be a bit on the large side.
8 - Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband
If you just need a fitness tracker to measure your heart rate, then we would recommend this armband.
It’s comfortable, precise, and synced up easily with other devices and fitness apps. Notably, the heart monitor provides remarkably accurate readings.
- What it measures : heart rate
- The comfortable strap shouldn’t get in the way of your lifting
- Reviews highlight that it seems to provide accurate HR info
- Syncs with many popular fitness apps
- Might not be suitable for tracking HR all-day
You might not want to be wearing it all day, though, as some find the band annoying after a while.
9 - Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
This is another watch that has a range of sport mode settings to cover different activities at the gym.
And the goal-setting in the app should allow you to keep on top of your daily routines.
After using the device for approximately three weeks, I've found that it accurately measures resting heart rate and heart rate during low activities. I've even taken manual pulse checks while at rest to compare with the reading from Fitbit, and they aligned perfectly.
As many reviewers have pointed out, during intense activities, it may be more inaccurate, which is common for optical HR monitors.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity
- Should work well for many different sports
- Fitbit app allows you to set certain goals for the week
- Continuous HR tracking should help you get to the right intensity
- The watch face is quite large
We did find it quite a bit larger than most other devices.
10 - Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Smartwatch Fitness Band
The final fitness tracker we put on our recommended list is this Samsung one.
The small display feature could be ideal, as it provides detailed training information that seems easy to read.
One standout feature I appreciated during my testing of this device was the Samsung Health app's capability to measure blood oxygen levels using the rear of the phone (the app provides guidance on finger placement for accuracy).
Additionally, the GPS functionality impressively tracks my workouts independently, eliminating the need for a connection to my phone.
- What it measures : heart rate, activity, calories, GPS
- Small display with clear training information
- Comes with built-in GPS to map your runs
- Watch straps may be swapped out easily for larger wrists
- May require multiple apps for all features
We just found it a bit annoying that some exercises required switching between apps.
Gym Wearable Key Considerations
1 - Range Of Activities Tracked
Fitness trackers have come a long way since the days where they just counted your steps.
There are some devices that should be able to track dozens of unique workouts, including things like yoga and pilates.
2 - Display And Strap Size
Some people like to have a fitness device with all the smart features possible.
While technology has made this possible, these products still tend to be a bit bigger.
We generally advise avoiding a larger device, as it could get in the way of strength and endurance training. Even when it's not through the tactile feeling of these devices, the sheer size could distract you from focusing on the rhythm of your exercises.
3 - Heart Rate Monitor
The good news is that wrist-based heart rate monitoring has become a lot more reliable.
“Another way to gauge your exercise intensity is to see how hard your heart is beating during physical activity. To use this method, you first have to figure out your maximum heart rate — the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.”
Most of the above fitness trackers should give you real-time information, which you could use to adjust what intensity and heart zone you target .
4 - GPS
Fitness trackers with GPS started off as a pure gimmick as they were pretty unreliable.
However, if you do a lot of running or cycling, then modern technology could help you keep better track of your pace and distance.
You can check out our article on the best fitness trackers for cycling.
Do Fitness Trackers Work for Weightlifting?
No, fitness trackers don’t work for weightlifting in the sense that they would automatically record the amount and types of moves you make. But they may still work to tell you how intense your workout was, based on your heart rate.
Are Fitbits Good for Weightlifting?
Yes, most Fitbits are good for weightlifting, especially if they have a built-in HR monitor. The small size of the activity tracker is what many bodybuilders favor as it doesn’t tend to get in the way during workouts.
Our #1 Recommended Fitness Tracker for Weightlifting
A debate over the best budget fitness tracker usually ends up with most of our team favoring the Garmin 935. If you do a lot of strength training and exercise routines, then you need technology that is precise more than anything.
The Garmin Forerunner fills that need very well, and there are tons of apps that would support the different exercises you do.
Let us know on social media what device works best for you.
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