Fitness trackers for CrossFit: A Buyer’s Guide

As technology advances each day, wearable technology becomes more common and does not raise eyebrows like it used to. Head to any upscale gym and you'll probably see more people with fitness bands, watches, and straps than not.  

A major consideration for CrossFit and high-intensity exercise is maximizing results in their hour-long sessions of physical activity as participants perform more than the average person would within that time frame. Exercise trackers can help quantify the results and are an important first step towards improving with maximum efficiency. The more information we have, the more informed our decisions will be. Our lives are hectic, so finding the right fitness tracker among a sea of choices should be a priority. There are different standards for fitness activity trackers, which is evident if you buy cheap ones off Wish or eBay.

Top Picks

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm) - Graphite Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport BandApple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm) – Graphite Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band
  • Ample storage space
  • Measures blood oxygen level
  • Always-on altimeter and location sharing for extra safety
  • Accurate heart rate monitor 
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SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active (40MM, GPS, Bluetooth ) Smart Watch with Fitness Tracking, and Sleep AnaSAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active (40MM, GPS, Bluetooth ) Smart Watch with Fitness Tracking, and Sleep Ana
  • HR monitor and alarm
  • Smart notifications
  • Water-resistant (50m)
  • LTE available 
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I've compiled the best options available on the market, tested them, and evaluated their pros and cons so you can compare and choose the best for your needs.

Fitness tracker sales have boomed in recent years. Nowadays, there are dozens of devices for keeping track of your fitness routine, thanks to advances in technology. It's important to note, however, that only some fitness trackers are created equal, and a number of them may be too difficult to use, too expensive, or lacking in features that CrossFitters are looking for.

Features Comparison Table

ModelBattery Connectivity ConstructionDisplay
Apple Watch Series 618 HoursWiFi – Bluetooth Aluminum – Stainless Steel – TitaniumRetina
Samsung Galaxy1 DayWiFi – Bluetooth Aluminum Super AMOLED
Fitbit Versa Lite4 DaysBluetoothAnodized Aluminum LCD
Polar Ignite17 HoursBluetooth Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer IPS TFT
Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire10 HoursBluetooth – ANTStainless Steel – DLCLCD
Suunto Spartan12 HoursBluetooth SteelMatrix

We've covered each fitness tracker's specific details in the table above. Let's deconstruct them.

1. Apple Watch Series 6 – Best Overall

The Apple Watch Series 6 is probably the most popular smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid, next to the Samsung Galaxy. Apple sensors and smart activity software provide unparalleled accuracy and innovation.

New Apple Watch Series 6

New Apple Watch Series 6

An excellent combination of style, function, and sporty elements. Always-On Retina displays are 2.5x brighter when your wrist is down, compared to the standard LCD. A bigger screen makes it easier to view your health and fitness statistics, listen to music, and stay connected with important notifications. An ECG app can show you your heart rhythm. Wi-Fi 5GHz and U1 Ultra Wideband chip. Synchronize your favorite music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Apple's watch comes with 32 GB of internal storage and a retina display similar to those found on Apple's other devices. As a result, everything you see on the watch is exceptionally clear and visible in any lighting condition.

Furthermore, this watch offers a lot of customization options, from the bands, which are designed specifically for sports so there are no pressure or sweating points, to the construction material.

Aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium models are all available, with titanium being the most durable and, therefore, the most expensive.

Apple Watch runs on iOS, a technology platform known for its usability. Adding features is as easy as installing an update. 

Additionally, the tracker monitors blood oxygen levels and resting heart rate 24/7. The Apple Watch's fall detection feature saved plenty of people from serious problems.

Battery life of 18 hours is a downside of the Apple Watch. Also, the Apple Watch can only be used with Apple devices, and considering the increasing price of Apple phones today, the total price might be out of reach for many people.

The Apple Watch is the best watch for CrossFit training with its ECG, fall detection, location sharing, and 32 GB of internet storage. However, you need to be an established fan of Apple products in order to enjoy the features offered by the watch. 

Pros
  • Ample storage space
  • Retina display
  • Measures blood oxygen level
  • Handwashing countdown for COVID-19
  • Always-on altimeter  and location sharing for extra safety
  • Accurate heart rate monitor 
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Short battery life
  • Only compatible with other Apple devices 

2. Samsung Galaxy – Budget Pick

The Samsung Galaxy Active Smart Watch comes with a price tag that won't put a massive dent in your wallet. And that's one of the compelling reasons for buying this device. However, it is perfectly capable of being used for Crossfit (as well as HIIT, F45, etc).

It supports up to 39 different exercises, along with automatic detection, which allows you to switch from one exercise to another. Moreover, it’s compatible with almost every smart device available, which gives it an edge over the Apple Watch Series 6.

The watch is made of aluminum and has a 40mm super AMOLED screen, so clarity and resolution are not compromised for durability. The device is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, so you can receive smart notifications even while underwater using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Although as far as I know, there aren't any CrossFit WODs that involve submerging yourself in water. This is a nice-to-have feature, but not an essential one.

Lightweight and compact, the watch's weight won't bother you and won't catch on equipment.

Additionally, it comes with Tizen OS, which is highly user-friendly and easy to learn. It also comes with a highly accurate heart rate monitor that works around the clock as well as automatic alarms in case anything in your health profile looks abnormal.

This Samsung model is one of the best hybrids you can buy for exercise fans. It brings smart notifications, health alarms, sleep tracking, automatic exercise detection, and shifting, all in a sleek, lightweight, 40mm wearable technology creation.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • HR monitor and alarm
  • Smart notifications
  • Water-resistant (50m)
  • LTE available
Cons
  • No fall detection
  • No ECG

3. Fitbit Versa Lite – Best for Beginners

The Fitbit Versa Lite combines an anodized aluminum design and an ergonomic one-button interface with an intuitive LCD display to make it the perfect companion for new athletes.

Fitbit Versa Lite Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa Lite Smartwatch

Compatible with most iPhones and iPad, Android phones, and Windows 10 devices. 15+ exercise modes, on screen workouts with Fitbit Coach, female health tracking, goal setting. Sync your watch with your phone's GPS for precise real-time pace and distance of outdoor workouts. Track all-day activity, calories burned, steps taken, floors climbed, and get personalized guidance.

With a Corning Gorilla Glass screen protecting the LCD, this simple, sleek design is quite durable. The Fitbit app makes it simple to manage; with the continuous updates, you'll always have something interesting to do!

FitBit requires only two hours of charging time to keep you active for four full days. It is also waterproof up to 50 meters below the surface. 

Smart notifications provide you with constant contact with the outside world, but the Versa Lite's interface allows you to train without sacrificing connectivity.

Moreover, it supports sleep tracking and women's health tracking, so it's an excellent choice for ladies who want to plan their exercise sessions better.

With 15+ exercise modes, you will be able to select the type of training you prefer, all while using the PurePulse feature, which offers continuous heart rate monitoring to enhance your real and raw fitness level and calorie burn across different days.

Sadly, the phone comes with no internal storage, which means you have to always carry a smart device on you.

Pros
  • 15+ exercise modes
  • Water-resistant (50m)
  • Ergonomic design
  • Sleep and women’s health tracking
  • Fitbit App connection
  • Long battery life
  • Continuous heart rate tracking
Cons
  • No internal storage 

4. Polar Ignite – Stand-Alone Choice 

Want a wearable fitness tracker that allows you to focus all of your energy and concentration during your workout? The Polar Ignite Fitness Watch has a standalone mode that makes it possible for it to operate just like that. 

The Polar's glass-reinforced polymer build makes it affordable and highly durable, in addition to being highly ergonomic. The tracker also has an impressive battery life of 17 hours when working full-speed with all of its functions turned on. 

The Ignite's sleep tracking function, called the Nightly Recharge, is interesting because it informs you of your sleep stage quality and how long you were present in each one of them. This information, along with specific measurements from your autonomic nervous system, is processed and used to deliver valuable feedback. Find out if your body has recovered from your previous workout session and how long your next one should be in order to avoid injury or exhaustion. 

Guided breathing with the FitSpark daily training guide is another neat feature that can really help CrossFit athletes feel more in tune with their bodies. Proper breathing is vital for good performance. 

This activity tracking device also has Polar BLE sensors, which give you swimming, running, and calories burned metrics, as they cover heart rate data, VO2Max, pace, strokes, distance, etc. 

Its low internal storage capacity means it can't download much.

Pros
  • Sturdy build
  • In-depth health analysis around the clock
  • Guided Breathing feature
  • Supports GPS/GLONASS
  • Highly sensitive sensors
  • Affordable 
Cons
  • Minimal internal storage
  • Only six watch faces

5. Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire 

Taking a look at the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire, you'll see why we've chosen to call it the experts' choice. It's like getting the last piece of the training puzzle. Why? 

The Garmin fitness watch is extremely robust due to its titanium, stainless steel, or DLC coatings. The screen is made of scratch-resistant sapphire, which houses an LCD with an always-on function, so you don't miss any important details, notifications, or (God forbid) health alarms.

Garmin fenix 6 Sapphire

Garmin fenix 6 Sapphire

This Fitness Tracker is to the serious athlete what the Rolex is to a successful CEO. It's water-rated to 100 meters and rugged enough to handle the roughest conditions, but also stylish enough to make a fashion statement. The always-on 1.3” sunlight-readable display uses electronic ink to show you data from up to 15 preloaded sports apps including hiking, cycling, running, swimming, skiing and more. While this watch was designed for those who spend their time in nature, it's also perfect for CrossFitters

Another great feature of this fitness watch is that it has a wider range of sports than other fitness trackers. It features over 2,000 maps of ski resorts around the world, for instance.

You can also use Pulse Ox for all of your workout sessions, including skiing and strength training. The continuous heart monitoring ensures that you're safe before, during, and after your exercise.

Also included with the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire is the PacePro feature, which counts your steps and rounds up the results of your exercise at the end of the day.

Now for the bad news: In addition to the limited battery life, the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire has limited smartwatch features, as it's mostly designed for fitness tracking, so notifications can be erratic.

Pros
  • Always-on LCD
  • Durable, high-end coating
  • Garmin Pay available
  • Supports GPS/GLONASS
  • 24/7 heart rate tracking
  • Overall activity tracking and rounding
  • Supports Spotify 
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Only 10 hours of battery life
  • Weak smartwatch features

6. Suunto Spartan Fitness Tracker

We’re definitely ending on a high note with the Suunto Spartan. This tracker covers 80 different sports and allows you to jump from one sport to another with ease. There's even a triathlon mode. 

Suunto Spartan Sport (Wrist – Hr), Black

Suunto Spartan Sport (Wrist - Hr), Black

The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is the perfect fitness tracker for the person who likes to do it all. This smartwatch offers 12 hours of battery life while training, GPS, over 80 recognized sports, and an extended battery while using GPS and motion detection. It also has racing and interval modes, basic music controls and more.

With a steel build and mineral crystal glass which sits atop a matrix display that’s swiftly and easily readable in various lighting conditions, there's a sense of quality and durability. 

It can be connected to your smart device via Bluetooth, as well as using its magnetic USB charger. One charging session gets you about 12 hours of continuous GPS/GLONASS activity tracking, along with smart notifications. You also get a sleep tracking feature and heart rate variability monitor to help you decide if you're rested enough for that tough WOD or strength training session. 

Pros
  • Over 80 recognized sports
  • GPS/GLONAS
  • Smart notifications
  • Sleep tracking
  • Affordable
  • Visible display
  • POI support
Cons
  • Silicone loop strap
  • Inaccurate heart rate measurement 

How to Pick the Best Fitness Tracker for CrossFit

Here's what to look for:

Material

Stainless steel or aluminum are good choices if you want something durable yet affordable. On the other hand, titanium or ceramic are durable enough that might even outlive you, but be prepared for a jaw-dropping price tag.

Water Resistance

Sometimes CrossFitters hit the water. Not a lot but those WODs on the beach are memorable. And remember that the CrossFit Games events occasionally involve paddling or swimming. If you're going to spend time in the water or you just want to wear your device outside of the CrossFit Box, choose something with good water-resistant qualities.

Weight & Ergonomics

Ergonomic design can also make all the difference between a good and a bad workout session. You need a slim design, along with a band that fits snugly without suffocating your wrist. Also, the band shouldn’t create any pressure point on you at any given time. And while weight doesn't play a huge factor, every bit of optimization helps.

Heart Monitoring

Continuous, around-the-clock heart monitoring is desirable when it comes to fitness trackers for CrossFit. Learn how your body reacts to workouts, sleep, and rest. Train in your optimal zone and make sure you don't work too hard or overtrain with accurate heart monitoring

GPS

The gym isn't the only place for a workout. Get out in nature once in a while and do some true functional training (not that pretend stuff in the gym). I could tell you to get lost in nature but CrossFitters have a tendency to go the extra mile. And well, this could lead to people truly getting lost. Accurate GPS/GLONASS services will help you find your way back to the post-workout snack bar.

Fall Detection

People of all ages have benefited from the availability of fall detection technology. 

In simple terms, the tracker will detect sudden stops in movement, or sudden changes in health indicators and even altimeter readings. If it determines that the wearer has fallen and requires immediate attention, the system will notify the emergency contact and emergency services in the area to assist them immediately.

Battery Life

Excellent battery life is another essential feature of fitness trackers. Fitness trackers need to keep up with you all day long without falling asleep. 

Even better if it can stay with you for a few days. It's especially pertinent for outdoor sports that can involve spending a few nights away from home in the wild. When you travel and want to keep on top of all the important fitness tracking metrics, long battery life is the difference between a great product and a frustrating one.

Accuracy

The accuracy of a fitness tracker is measured by its ability to accurately measure the distance you have traveled, your heart rate, and other metrics. This is where price really does play a part. In general, more expensive trackers are more accurate. 

Final Thoughts

Fitness trackers can be a great way to stay on top of your workout routine and maximize your time in the gym. The data they provide can be helpful during a workout, but they can also help to show how your fitness stack up against others.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is my overall “best choice.” In addition to the 32GB of storage for all of your favorite media, this smartwatch/fitness tracker is equipped with an ECG, heart rate monitor, and blood oxygen sensor.

Next is the Samsung Galaxy, another smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid. This one can support LTE, is water-resistant up to 50m underwater, and comes with an affordable price tag for its user-friendly Tizen OS developed specifically by Samsung.

The Fitbit Versa Light is great for beginner athletes with its 15+ exercise modes, 4-day battery life, connection to the Fitbit smartphone app which opens up countless opportunities, and great durability.

If you're looking for more fitness apps and you're more of a CrossFit fan, check out our guide to CrossFit apps.

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