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Running Power From the Wrist: Polar Vantage Measures Watts

Polar Vantage
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The Polar Vantage running power display lets athletes now see hard they’re working — a cool complement to standard heart rate tracking.

Right on your wrist, you can now see how many watts your body is using when training with the Polar Vantage smartwatches. Polar says no other watchmaker is doing exactly that.

“Are you training at the right intensity? What is your tolerance level to see gains in your fitness level?” asked Marco Suvilaakso, Polar’s chief strategy officer, during a demo of the new watch.

Ultimately, the measurement should help athletes figure out how to train smarter toward achieving maximum performance.

Polar Vantage V

The recently released Polar Vantage fitness watch comes in two versions. The Vantage V ($500) and Vantage M ($280) both come with Polar’s iconic big displays, plus some new output and input trackers that people who regularly train with tech will like.

Inside the Polar Vantage Tech

For example, the watch comes with Precision Prime, the only wrist-based heart rate technology to integrate three sensors for faster and more accurate readings, according to the brand.

Vantage V

The technology uses nine optical channels, a 3D “accelerometer,” and four electrode sensors to measure skin contact. It’s hard to wrap our brains around that, let alone our wrists, but it sounds promising.

Polar Vantage V inside

There are also built-in visual smart-coaching tools. One tool called Load Pro shows up on the Polar Vantage watch as a visual cue to help athletes see when they’re under-training, training with particular efficiency, or are at risk for injury by over-training.

Polar Vantage V

The big difference between the two models is the Vantage V comes with an added feature to measure running “power.” Polar uses an algorithm based on GPS and barometer data to calculate it. From there, the Vantage V can show muscle load, or how much stress you’re putting on the muscular and skeletal systems.

That’s a big benefit for athletes who constantly check heart rate and other data in an attempt to calculate how hard they’re actually working. Because it responds to changes in intensity faster than heart rate, running power is helpful for maintaining a steady effort level during intervals, hill training, or in a paced race, for example.

The Vantage V also comes with a big boost in battery life compared to previous models — up to 40 hours when using full heart rate and GPS features.

Polar Vantage M

The Vantage M is a step down but still worth considering if you’re serious about measured training. It’s an affordable multisport option for athletes who compete and want to improve performance by the numbers.

The watch has over 130 sport options from strength training to outdoor swimming, and you can save up to 20 profiles to bounce between activities.

Polar Vantage M colors

While it doesn’t have the optical tracking for running power, it’s solid on battery (30 hours) and pretty light (40 grams) for such a bold display. The Vantage M model comes with changeable straps, too, for those who care about style.

Polar Vantage M wristband

Both Go With Polar Flow

All data on both Vantages syncs with the brand’s training application, Polar Flow. So instead of downloading and manually sending numbers to a trainer, everyone can get on the same page from one watch.

Coaches can create workouts within Polar Flow and add them to an athlete’s training calendar. Athletes can upload daily training sessions, follow along via the watch, and sync with Flow to share data with the coach or trainer.

Plus, the Vantage watches work with the most popular fitness apps like Strava.

Polar Vantage

The Polar Vantage V ($500 in black, white, and orange) and Vantage M ($280 in black, white, and red) are available for pre-order now. Shipping starts on October 1.

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