CSX Heart Rate Monitor Review

CSX C536X Heart Rate Monitor Review
CSX C536X Heart Rate Monitor Review
A heart rate monitor (HRM) is a really handy piece of kit for anyone who wants to track their fitness level and the calorie-burns of their workouts. 

I've been using HRMs for the last four years. I saw it as an upgrade from a pedometer, as it took into account my exertion, rather than simply my steps. For this reason I favour wearing my HRM over a standard activity tracker to calculate the calories burned in cardio and weights sessions. 

The CSX C536X HRM is a great device for beginners, as well as more advance users who wish to set specific heart rate zones to train in. Read on for my full review. 

First impressions
The Pros:

  • Very easy to set up. The instruction manual is easy to understand and there are also online videos on the CSX website to guide you through the process. 
  • There are three different set up modes. I recommend that you use the 'pro' mode, as you can input your weight in this mode to improve the accuracy of the calorie burn reading (kg or lb).
  • The chest strap is very adjustable (size small to large), comfortable, feels durable, isn't too thick and doesn't feel like it's in the way. It also stays in place, even in the sweatiest of workouts.
  • The watch is also comfortable to wear, has a durable strap,the buttons are easy to press but at the same time, won't be pressed accidentally when working out. large screen, clear reading.
  • It's backlit for night time runs!
  • It's water resistant for working out in rain (but its not waterproof)
  • There's a handy LED light on the right hand side of the watch screen to indicate when you are working in and out of the target heart rate zone you have selected.
  • CSX have produced a free eBook "Heart Rate Training", with information on how to carry out a heart rate stress test, plus which heart rate zones you should be aiming for in order to meet your particular training goals. The download link for the eBook, is on the front of the instruction manual. 
  • I really like the fitness level mode to show recovery time. One of my fitness goals is to boost my recovery time so this provides me with a way to measure my progress!

CSX Heart Rate Training eBook
The CSX Heart Rate Training eBook
The Cons:

  • There's no feature to add height though, this makes me question impact on accuracy.
  • Setting up the different heart rate zones and alarms felt like quite a long and confusing process. I'm very glad there are instructional videos for this!

Setting up the C536X
The watch has just four buttons - 'mode', 'light', 'set' and select ('sel'). For the initial set up, you will only use set and select buttons. Select will be used to choose a value and set will be used to confirm.

I decided to set my watch up in pro-mode as I wanted to have all the settings and features accessible. If you choose the basic mode, then no user input is required and the default settings will be used. This of course means that you're calorie burn and heart rate zone is not adjusted for your individual age and weight. In 'normal' mode, you will be able to add your age (DOB) and gender but not your weight. As I'm sure you've figured out by now, if you want to set up the watch in Pro mode, you will need to know your weight in advance of starting the set up process. You can input your weight in either kg or lbs.   

For setting up in Pro mode, the sequence is as follows: 
  • Choose language - German or English are the only options 
  • Set the time - including the 12h/24h setting
  • Set the date - year, month then date 
  • Input your date of birth. This is used to calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) and your suggested heart rate zones for more info see the eBook), 
  • select your gender, 
  • confirm your maximum heart rate. This is automatically calculated using the formula: 220 - your age. I recommend using the default, especially if you're new to working out, unless you have carried out a heart rate stress test. This is covered in the eBook.
  • input your weight after choosing which units you prefer.
  • Choose to enable LED indicator. This is situated on the right hand side of the watch, next to the screen. It will light up green when in you are training in your desired HR zone and red when you are out of zone.  
  • Choose to switch button tones on or off.
If you want to change the settings at any time once the watch is set up, simply press and hold 'light' button for about 4 seconds.

The initial set-up process for the pro mode took me about 6 minutes. I didn't feel like I needed the set-up video, although it's certainly handy that the people at CSX have made one! In fact, I didn't even use the manual, although this too is very clear and easy to follow. I'm impressed by how easy it is to set up straight out of the box, particularly when compared to other HRM models. 

Pairing with the chest strap 
CSX C536X Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
CSX HRM Chest Strap
To open the chest strap, release one of the side tabs by twisting and pulling it out. Before putting it on, be sure to wet the sensors on strap - I recommend a couple of drips from a tap. be mindful not to wet the battery flap. Then place the belt directly on your skin, wrap it around your chest with the HRM in the middle, and reclip the tab into the strap. If you need a demo, see video 2 for this.

Once you have the strap in place (I wear mine directly underneath my sport's bra band), press the mode button to put the watch in heart rate mode. It will only take a few moments to pair with the strap and then it will show you your pulse. If all is well with the strap and the signal to the watch is strong, the heart symbol on the left will flash. 

In this mode, the watch will show you what percentage of your MHR your pulse is currently at, the LED will indicate which zone you are in (if you had this enabled during set up). The time will also be displayed at the top of the screen

The five different function modes
CSX C536X Heart Rate Monitor Watch
You will use the 'mode' button can be used to cycle through the various functions of the CSX HRM:
1. Time screen
2. Heart rate training screen - starts with time at the top, HR in middle, % of MHR at bottom.
You will use this mode the most while working out and simply scroll between sub-functions and simply use the select button to cycle through the sub functions.
3. Stop watch,
4. Countdown timer (press set button for a few seconds to change the hour, select button to change it, set to move onto mins)
5. Alarm

The 5 sub functions of HR mode
1. Stop watch (used to show how long you were training for)
2. Memory (highest, lowest, average HR of workout)
3. Training zone section & zone alarms (allowing you to set your heart rate zone and alarms for when you are in the zone, or above/below it). 
4. Fitness level (to check your recovery rate at the end of the workout)
5. Calories burned and Fat burned. (I tend not to pay too much attention to the fat burned reading and just log the calories)

Confession time: I don't personally use these as I bought a HRM just to log calories burned in my workouts, as well as time how long my workout is. I can however see how this would be really handy for long distance running, as you could use the LED indicator, alarms and target heart rate zone to check that you're not flagging or going to hard, making it a great tool to use for building endurance. For those who do want to use this feature, I highly recommend watching video 3 and reading the free eBook, as these both provide much more info on heart rate zones, recovery times and heart stress testing. 

How I have it set up 
Before training I press and hold set button to reset values for Calories burned and the stop watch. At the start of my workout, I select the stop watch sub mode on the HR screen to start it going and then I put the calorie burn sub function on and leave this on for the rest of my workout. At the end of the workout, I use select to go to the stop watch function (select button) and press set to start/stop. I then go back to the calories burned sub function and record this, as well as my last my workout time in MyFitnessPal. 

Carrying out the fitness level test after working out
Directly after your workout, use the select button to get into the FIT-LV sub mode (ensure you're still on the HR screen). Press the set button to start a 5 minute countdown directly after working out. After this countdown, your heart rate will be shown. 

A number below 100 is Level 1, this is very fit as it means your HR has dropped to below 100bpm - meaning you've made a fast recovery. Level 6 is a HR greater than 130bpm, this requires improvement and would be a great fitness goal to set. 

Overall impression:

The CSX HRM is very simple to initially set up, even in Pro mode. I feel it's the setting up of custom heart rate zones, alarms and count down timers before workouts which begin to complicate things, but it is possible to use the HRM without these features and simply use it to track your calorie burn and workout time without them.

It's very comfortable to wear. Currently priced at £36.99, It's significantly cheaper than it's higher-end competitors but still offers just as many features, offering great value for money. 

It does have a vast amount of features, though I don't feel like I'm utilising them all to their best advantage, as I like to keep things very simple. I can see how the additional features would come in very handy for anyone who is training for endurance events, such as a marathon and I highly recommend using the instructional videos and the free eBook to get a more in-depth idea of the usefulness heart rate zones and heart stress tests. 

Where to buy: 

The CSX C536X Heart Rate Monitor costs just £36.99, and is available from Amazon.co.uk (affiliate link)

Disclosure: I was sent this product to review, but as always my opinions are honest and my own 

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