I have a plastic tote in my garage filled with an old car radio, a cordless house phone, and lots of stereo speaker wire. I had almost given up on getting any sort of accurate heart rate readings from my Garmin 310XT, but I decided to make one last call to Garmin before relegating this device to the garage.
My Garmin 310XT has served me well for the past 3 years, but the inaccurate heart rate readings coming from the Premium Heart Rate Strap almost caused me to switch to a different device. After all, I use heart rate as the key monitoring tool for all of my training and I needed this function to work.
When I first received the 310XT the heart rate monitor worked ok, not perfect, but manageable. As the device aged something started to go wrong…
My heart rate readings would jump up to 200+ bpm and then suddenly drop to 140 bpm. Sometimes it would get stuck at high heart rate readings of 230 bpm or a low heart rate reading of 92 bpm. Sometimes the watch wouldn't even detect the heart rate monitor.
Let me also add that I live in probably one of the worst climates for monitoring your heart rate. The Nevada desert averages only 18% humidity and, in the winter, your clothes can't escape the static electricity. In addition, we have lots of overhead, high voltage power lines which I'm told can affect a heart rate monitor.
I had tried the suggested fixes such as:
- Shifting the strap sensors to the back
- Shifting the strap sensors to the side
- Applying ultrasound gel before my workout – this helps until it wears off
When I made my second call to Garmin I told the rep my frustrations and that I had tried the suggested fixes. He admitted that some older models had seen problems and sent me a free updated model of the Premium Heart Rate Monitor (Soft Strap). I really didn't know if this would help, but I tried it and…night and day difference!
Take a look at the pictures below comparing the design of the old premium soft strap to the new premium soft strap design. The new strap doesn't allow the metal buttons to touch the skin and instead connects with a hook closure on the side. This new design prevents the metal fastener joints from wiggling whereas, on the old model, the metal buttons had to be used to secure the strap around your chest and overtime this created a bad connection for monitoring.
Did it work? Well on my very first run the watch read a smooth accurate heart rate graph and has continued to function well for the past 5 months. Below I've summarized my experience with the Garmin 310XT Heart Rate functions based on using the Updated Premium Soft Strap. If you have an old model I suggest you call Garmin and ask for a replacement.
My Troubleshooting Tips:
- You'll notice a huge improvement upon switching to the new style of premium soft strap.
- Heart rate readings are still greatly affected by clothing so if you run on a windy day expect the monitor to register extra bpm when your loose shirt flaps against the strap. The best practice would be to wear tight fitting workout shirts, jogging bras, tri tops, or tri suits.
- The first 10 minutes of your workout can still result in jagged readings until your heart rate moves into a higher range.
- If you have an old Garmin strap remove the battery so the watch reads the new strap instead of the old one.
- If the watch continues to have trouble detecting your heart rate monitor then turn off the heart rate antenna in the watch settings, remove the battery from the strap for 10 minutes, then reinsert the battery, put on the strap, and turn the heart rate antenna back on in your watch.
- Always make sure the heart rate strap is tight and positioned under just the pecs at the bottom of the sternum.
Special thanks for Garmin for sending me a free updated strap.
Check out this review by DC Rainmaker for a detailed review of all 310XT features.
The Garmin 310XT is still available at a lower price while the 910XT is now Garmin's top of the line multi-sport watch. Both models use the same premium heart rate strap and appear to have the same heart rate features.
Old style of Garmin premium heart rate monitor strap