I’ve used the Polar FT60 in the past, and currently use the FT80. The software that comes with them tracks your stats at PolarPersonalTrainer.com – which I’ve been using for tracking my indoor non-GPS workouts for a few years.
To be totally honest, both watches have all kinds of features I’ve never used, and probably never will. I’m really a simple person when it comes to tracking indoor workouts. I don’t set targets and goals, don’t want to hear beeps and tones for when I should start my next weight training set, don’t want to know if I should roll over and go back to sleep or work easy, moderate, or hard. Between these two watches those are all features you might want to use. I myself just want to record my heart rate over time, store it, and transfer it up to the internet so I can see all the cool charts and graphs. I’m not being even slightly facetious here either.
The watches store about 99 workouts, so if you train once a day, you should really upload your files about 4 times a year to prevent them from being overwritten. If you are training with intent and purpose though, you’ll probably want to upload them about once a week, so you can review your week and see your own highs and lows and progress. If you’ve been doing this for a while and have a good idea of your own weaknesses, you won’t need to upload so often. I normally do it about once a month and just glance back to see if some of my suppositions were correct or validated with data.
To upload you set the watches in a little USB dongle that looks something like a small cup-warmer. The lights flash, stuff happens, and shortly your browser will open up at the Personal Trainer website so you can log in. Then you get a page similar to the above, a weekly summary with start time, duration, heart rate stats, and calorie burn. For a lot of you this would be good enough. Just the Cliff-Notes version.
I like to click the link for Diary View, which puts something similar into a calendar grid and you can scroll through it by week with a little weekly summary beside it. This is a great way to scroll through your weeks at a glance to verify your own progress. If you are doing any kind of split training with multiple times per day, those will show up by hour in the grid, like a calendar app. Notice the Fitness Zone Summary. I am using custom zones, based on a mix of the watch’s fitness test, my training hours per week, and training goals. For yourself, unless you know some reason to change them, let the watch set them for you. Additional to that, this info is also used in calculating your calorie burn, which is a bit more accurate than the display on machines, since the watch knows your age, weight, height, and athletic level.
The next most useful feature, IMHO, is the Training Load Graph. Based on your heart rate stats and time in each zone, the website calculates how much “overwork” you might have done, and estimates the time required to recover and train as hard again. I myself do not use this to plan rest days, which I think was intended to help you out, but rather to look back over the week to see if my estimates were correct in planning my own lighter and heavier days. Sometimes I get a “DOH!” moment – when I say “Oh, yeah, that’s why I wanted to hit the snooze button that day”
In my Training Load you’ll notice how low my load was for a while when I was in maintenance mode and recovery mode between outside training sessions, which I record elsewhere. Hence the gaps – when I was outside that day. You’ll also notice how high my training load was as I increased my time and vertical speed in preparation and testing to see if I should do Elbrus Race 2012.
If you are interested, there is a social side with friends and sharing and stuff, but I’m not really that kind of person, so I don’t know what those are like. If anyone does, please, write comments below, or put them on the Seven Summits Body Facebook Page (if they’re too long blog it and put up a link there). For something that’s free with the watch, it’s okay, and I do use it on a regular basis to compare my stats to my perception as a reality check – we all need that now and then.