Polar Vantage M fitness watch review

Since my Apple Watch is acting funny, I decided to go back to my faithful watch, the Polar Vantage M

I love it because I can comfortably wear this watch all day for daily activity tracking, as well as in the gym for strength training and out on my runs.

woman with polar vantage m watch on arm

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I sort of gave it up a little more than a year ago because someone bought me an Apple Watch and I wanted to join in on all the fun that comes along with it.

It’s been the best running watch and for tracking my workouts in the gym with the heart rate monitor. If you’re unsure if a running watch or fitness watch is even the right thing for you, keep reading.

I work out about five times a week year-round. And depending on the season, I also log quite a few miles a week running. Today, I’m sharing my Polar Vantage M review, what key features I use and why I haven’t splurged for a model with more bells and whistles.

I’ve worn a Polar running watch for more than five years and I’ve loved it. I temporarily switched out and wore Apple Watch for almost two years until it died all of a sudden.

Here are the main reasons I think it’s a must-have whether you spend a majority of your time in the gym, running or biking once you start to set some goals with your training. 


Track your current pace, average pace and lap pace

These features are a must-have for my running, especially when you area training for a race and logging workouts where you want to hit a specific pace or specific interval distances. 

You can change the view depending on the type of workout you are doing so sometimes you can show your overall pace or have it show that it shows your current lap pace.

Sports features

Polar M can track more than 100 sports and workouts. Each profile has customized data fields, calorie burn metrics, and a slew of other settings.

polar vantage m sports profile strength training (1)
polar vantage m sports profile HIIT
polar vantage m sports profile running

There are a lot of the workouts and profiles you would expect like running, high-intensity interval training, outdoor walking, spinning and swimming. But you will find others including boxing, dancing, hiking, martial arts, pilates, horseback riding and yoga.

The sport profiles are controlled on Polar Flow, either via the smartphone app or website.

Program workouts intervals

Whether you are running or doing a high-intensity interval workout, you can set the intervals. 

You can program that into the watch and it vibrates when you need to start the next interval or recover. It also has a text on the screen telling you what distance and pace you need to run. 

This feature is handy so you don’t have to constantly look at my watch to see if your repeat is done yet or hit the lap button after each repeat.

Daily activity

polar vantage m overall activity

Being an activity tracker, it’ll track most of the metrics you’d expect. You can toggle through different views to see steps, % of activity against daily goal and calories.  

It also shares if my workout load is more than usual and tells me to rest. It’s up to you to follow or not by looking at the breakdown of why it is recommending you to stop for the day.

Track steps and vibrates when I sit for too long

I have a bad habit of barely moving during the work day once I get in front of the computer. It vibrates when I should get up and take a little walk break.

Battery life

You know how some batteries seem to wear out over time? (cough, cough, Apple Watch). This hasn’t happened with my the Vantage M. 

The Vantage M comes with a disc-shaped cradle charger that snaps onto the back of the watch magnetically and charges using a USB connection.

When fully charged, the watch lasts up to 30 hours in training mode. I can go about five days before having to recharge it. That’s with two tracked workouts a day, five days a week and continuous heart rate tracking when I sleep.

Sleep tracking

You can track your sleep with the continuous HR turned on. It will give you information about your sleep.

polar vantage m sleep tracking
polar vantage m sleep tracking data
polar vantage m sleep tracking results

I have my watch set for continuous heart rate tracking starting at 9 p.m. and it turns off when I wake up. this allows for a visual graph of my sleep.

The Nightly Recharge measurements will give you a closer look at how you’ve recovered from your previous day. It will let you know if you’ve had a good recovery during sleep and will give you the nod to train again.

Sync with your phone and connect to Strava, MyFitnessPal, Nike+

You can track all of your workouts with Strava, MyFitnessPal, Nike+ and others

Strava will let you track your miles, splits, see how you’re doing on a specific route vs. previous runs and more. 


It doesn’t hold your music 

Polar does have newer watches that can hold your playlist and allow you to answer calls mid-run. While it would be nice to leave my phone at home and still be able to listen to music, it hasn’t been enough of a pain to me to upgrade to the Polar Vantage M2 or the Polar Vantage V2.

Can’t answer phone or reply to notifications

You can receive text notifications from your synched Apple and Android phones to your watch, but you can’t answer your phone or reply to text messages.

Workout recommendations

Each day your watch will give you a suggested cardio workout. Once you complete it, it’ll give you a supportive or strength workout. These aren’t tied to a specific training plan (like building towards a half marathon), but rather, aimed at giving you a ‘Workout of the day’ concept. And doing so in a way that doesn’t get you injured.

polar vantage m workout recommendations

Depending on the type of workout you choose it’ll give you the specific steps and guidance in the watch itself. There are cardio-focused running workouts with different intensities. And then there are core type workouts too, and for those, it’ll give you the specific moves to do, along with animations and text for each one.

If you’re on a structured training plan, this isn’t for you. It’s best for those who don’t have a specific training plan, but just want to keep active in an endurance-sports focused manner.

The Polar FLOW App

polar vantage m strength training breakdown

There is a lot of information you can get from your watch and the app. You can keep it really simple or get really granular.

This is just one view of a strength training workout. You can learn a lot about each of your workouts.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to wear a heart rate monitor?

No.  The watch is enabled with wrist-based heart rate monitoring. You can buy the Polar H10 heart rate monitor because a chest strap will always be the most accurate, but it is not required.
Buy the Polar H10 heart rate monitor. You can pair it with your Peloton bike or tred.

Can I swim with it?

It’s water resistant. You can swim in a pool and open water with it (but not scuba dive since it doesn’t have that water testing/rating level).

Is Polar a good triathlon watch?

The Polar Vantage M and Polar Vantage M2 are good triathlon watches that are suitable for beginners and advanced competitors.

Wrap  up

The Polar Vantage M is a multisport fitness tracker that most will use for running. It has a built in GPS, so you can go for runs without your phone.

I love it because it supports and provides information/data for more than 100 different sports/activities including swimming, cycling, spinning, yoga, fitness dancing and more. 

It does lack some of the big smartwatch features that you will find in a similarly priced Garmin. But if you want a great tracking experience, Vantage series is one option for you.

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