Suunto 3 Fitness – Another new Suunto

Suunto 3 Fitness

Suunto today announced the Suunto 3 Fitness, which is a variant on the Suunto SPARTAN Sport WHR (ish). Historically Suunto have created many product variants from a ‘master’ format. No doubt they will continue to do that.

I’ve not yet dug deeply enough to discover all the nuances of the Suunto 3 Fitness as January will also see some new firmware additions and notable moves forward with the Movescount app. So new features in the Suunto 3 Fitness may well come to other SPARTANs too.Here is the Suunto 3 Fitness lineup:
Suunto 3 Fitness

That picture looked familiar to me so I dug back to the press shots from the Suunto SPARTAN TRAINER release from August 2017 and found the one below. The Suunto 3 Fitness is clearly NOT a re-formatted TRAINER. It’s a different FORM with no antennae lug.

Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

The Suunto 3 Fitness comes with Valencell’s optical HRM so that’s why I initially thought it was, instead, a variant on the SPARTAN SPORT WHR. Or is it?

Look more closely at the way the strap is attached to the main body of the watch. The Suunto 3 is like the SPARTAN SPORT WHR BARO. Not many people spotted that the BARO had that change to the band compared to the SPORT WHR. Or maybe they did and it wasn’t so interesting in itself!

The BARO has a ‘featured’ bezel and the Suunto 3 Fitness has the smoother stainless steel bezel.

Suunto Spartan Baro Review

So let’s say the Suunto 3 Fitness is a slightly more dressy version of the WHR BARO?

Except that’s not right either. If you look below you will see an image of the Suunto 3 that has 5 buttons. Like the Spartan Trainer. We’re back where we started!

Oh. And apparently it’s a bit smaller than the SPARTAN SPORT/ULTRA too. So that would make it SPARTAN trainer-sized.


OK, so it’s a new watch format! 😉 Albeit with SPARTAN firmware. Or a WHR BARO with a nice bezel and 2 more buttons!

Here is an interesting screenshot from about the same watch.

Suunto 3 Fitness Firstbeat
Look !! 5 Buttons

Suunto are also now starting to mention their hook-up with Firstbeat. Firstbeat provide several heart-rate based pieces of individual functionality to a variety of watch companies ranging from PulseOn to Garmin. And Suunto.

First-up, Suunto are providing a new piece of training GUIDANCE. Look at this image

Suunto 3 Fitness Gold


OK. It’s not overly exciting in itself. But Suunto are today saying that they are providing ADAPTIVE TRAINING guidance.

Training with Suunto 3 Fitness is easy. The watch automatically creates seven-day training plans, using the user’s fitness level and overall exercise history as a base. However, if the user misses an exercise, or does more than planned, Suunto 3 Fitness automatically adapts the training plan accordingly. Additional real-time guidance with heart rate zones help ensure the right intensity. Source: Suunto

IF the mechanics of that are physiologically sound across all age groups and abilities, then that is probably THE best approach for MOST people to train to achieve the most benefit. I looked at adaptive training methods a few years back in quite some detail for non-the5krunner stuff and ithlete did some studies recently in the same field.

The objection from athletes would be that they would much prefer complex, structured WORKOUT integration. ie they want detailed daily instructions for an overall (coached-) plan that they are following. The Suunto adaptive training seems to give more generic, high-level daily targets for an adaptive weekly schedule. Not quite the same thing.

HOWEVER. Let’s hold fire for now.

Firstbeat’s Personalized Training Plans rely on the combination of expert training advice and ongoing analysis of your personal training data. Your goals and training ambitions are interpreted in light of your personal background information, current VO2max fitness level, and training history. Training Effect is utilized to guide your daily activity prescriptions towards the perfect level for you. Recovery Time feedback ensures you receive the maximum benefit of your efforts with a healthy, balanced approach. The result is a highly personalized method of training prescription that automatically adapts based on your individual needs.” Source: Firstbeat

Indeed the adaptive training guidance algorithm may well derive from the once excellent, but now withdrawn Firstbeat Athlete consumer software. (Edit: Firstbeat confirm THIS IS TRUE)

So maybe I can move from an intially grumpy “Where’s my complex, structured workouts’ to ‘Cool! it’s got state-of-the-art adaptive training’. That’s a big MAYBE.

HR Zones

Heart Rate Zones: In today’s press release Suunto have announced that they are supporting heart rate zones “real-time guidance with heart rate zones help ensure the right intensity.”  More details will follow on that next week.

Exciting times.

Sleep Quality & VO2max

Suunto developed sleep quality tracking, as well as fitness level indicator and adaptive training guidance in cooperation with Firstbeat Technologies. Source: Suunto

Suunto 3 Fitness FirstbeatSo it also looks like Suunto are implementing 3 of these (link to: standard Firstbeat features/algorithms.

VERY interestingly at this link to FirstbeatSleep Quality Assessment,you will see that this particular metric uses HRV. So, I reckon that Suunto are using resting levels of HRV from the Valencell sensor. I know Valencell were working on that a few years ago and that some other oHRM makers can record HRV at rest. So…why not here? (TBC, obviously)

Less interesting is the VO2max. Lot’s of people do that now. On the other hand, though, it bodes well for the future of Suunto’s watches as a lot fo other Firstbeat ‘stuff’ can then be bolted on once the basic measures are established.

no GPS

And finally we come to the noGPS feature. Yep that really means zero GPS. So it’s either aimed at indoor use OR people who don’t care about GPS or, perhaps, a GPS linkup via a smartphone is planned

Me being creditable: If you can pair this cheaper device with a cheap Milestone pod then who needs GPS? You get a lightweight running watch with a great battery life as it hasn’t got to power the GPS. Add in to that the use of a HR strap to avoid using the oHRM and the battery will last even longer. Maybe it can be geared towards indoor gym classes and treadmill running?

Me being less than creditable: Despite any contrived logic, excluding GPS is crazy. PLEASE TELL ME I AM WRONG, below. Ray seems to think the jury is out on this in some way and says “The question becomes will the Suunto 3 Fitness be able to achieve [happy customers/value for money] without GPS“. ?!?

Jeez…Accurate GPS was one of THE KEY AREAS where Suunto (& Polar) easily beat Garmin. At least there are some software bits that Garmin hasn’t quite yet got in the Suunto 3. Suunto’s strength has broadly been towards premium- and mid-priced watches…is the low-feature end with a mid-price point their forte?


A rather bland press release turns out, in fact, to be quite interesting.

At least I thought so


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23 thoughts on “Suunto 3 Fitness – Another new Suunto

  1. Maybe I got it wrong but for me this watch does not have a GPS module:

    Quote: “Accelerometer-based speed, pace and distance for walking and running”
    And you can’t find the word “GPS” within the whole product description at Suunto’s site.

    So I would not call it related to any of the current Spartan models.

  2. Ray just put a preview online: No GPS inside. It will be interesting to see which market-acceptance they will get.

  3. Doesn’t Polar already have a adaptive training programs for 10K, Half-marathon and for full marathon?

    Regarding GPS ….. just a big facepalm. Seriously, it’s 2018 and you guys are releasing a sports watch without GPS …. and it costs 200 eur ? Even 50 eur no name Chinese watches have GPS and OLED screens. And Suunto could have hit home run with it, if it would have had GPS inside.

      1. the adaptive training is from Firstbeat. firstbeat introduced adaptive training at least as early as 2007 with their Firstbeat Athlete software.
        I suspect it will be HRV-based (resting ohr) and I would doubt if that was in the F11 in 2005.
        the broad concept of adapting training must surely date back decades before these products…maybe not based on HR maybe not programatic
        and maybe none of them are quite as foolproof as we might hope 🙂

      2. I owned the Polar F11, F55 and FT80. I lost 7 kg with the F11 over 2 years, so I’m quite sure about these features.

        The F11’s program created daily execises (man, how did I hated that Short1 program :)) and placed them in specific days, just like this Suunto clone is doing. Any YES, it was based on the resting HR (Polar called it OwnIndex).

        Then, Polar improved on the program a bit with the F55 iteration (excercises were not assigned to days and you could choose which one to do in a specific day) + added gym sessions (zero added value btw).

        Finally, the best version was called “STAR Training Program” and simplified a lot the entire program by creating the weekly targets in terms of time and calories. You could work out as much as you wanted towards the weekly goal, not bound by some strict HR zone targets.

        I am very disappointed with Polar to have dumped the STAR program in the V800 and replaced it with generic crap everyone has today to a certain degree. Since I have purchased the V800 I am looking for a decent equivalent of the STAR program from the FT80 with no success; seems the entire industry went full retard: cramming more and more “features” in the watch but not looking at the main purpose of it (for me that would be a smart long term fitness companion).

        I would gladly go back to the FT80 if the screen on it was not as bad and if I could use the bluetooth Polar OH1 (my skin gets grazed by the chest strap) HRM.

        BTW, I have created an online petition to keep the online companion for legacy Polar equipment ( but seems people do not care :).

  4. Know what makes it worse…no mention of “Connected GPS”

    As it seems right now you can’t even piggy back GPS from a phone. Its direct polar competitor the M430….built in GPS.

    Even some of early 2017 Fitbit models had connected GPS, the Ionic came bundled with one.

    100% agree with you, Giant Face-palm.

  5. If it means better integration with phone for spartan overall I’ll be happy as it’s pretty basic right now.

  6. Those adaptive training plans sound really interesting, do any of the other Suunto watches have them? No gps = no interest where I’m concerned as think we all know if a run isn’t logged somewhere then it’s as if it never happened 🙂

    1. i hope it will come to all watches but i do not know
      there will be a licencing/cost issue
      but if you own a spartan ultra i’d imagine youthink it strange a premium feature goes to the lowest watch in the series

  7. Will stick to my Baro thanks, very happy with that investment although not had a Fenix 5 to compare against.

  8. Thanks for the informative article.

    I am looking for a ‘Fitness’ watch for some time now. Since i like the Suunto brand from my scuba diving days Suunto was my main focus.

    I am not the sporty type anymore but will do something to achieve a certain level of fitness. So, after looking and reading about all the watches available I was about to settle on a Spartan Wrist HR.

    Main reasons being: relatively small (compared to Ambit and higher ups Spartans) and the HR monitoring built in. I know of the issues that in certain conditions the HR monitoring is a bit flawed but since I might never look at any recorded data I don’t care. If it is a few seconds behind in HR change – no problem.

    The only thing the Spartan WHR has I also do not need is: GPS.

    I do not intend to do a certain mileage (kilometers here where I live) in a better time.
    All I want is to see if my HR drops (during exercises and during regeneration) after so an so many workouts and to exercise in a certain HR ‘window’.
    Whatever these workouts might be. Mostly cycling in my case. And yes I do have a good cycling computer with HR strap, cadence pod and all that stuff.

    What I want is CONSTANT HR montoring during the day in a nice package that might inspire me to do more workouts.

    This much said, typed rather, the Suunto 3 Fitness (in all black please) might be just what I WANT. And from my point of view there might be more potential buyers like me out there than there are people that really NEED and really use all the functionality – including GPS – of the ‘big wathes’.

    If the Fitness variant works well and they get their marketing right it could generate quite some revenue. And an upgrade path to higher end watches.

    So, me sitting ’round now and waiting for the release of the 3 Fitness and the infamous early Suunto firmware that come with their new watches.

    1. thank you for that feedback. I am INTERESTED to hear from people like you with NO NEED for GPS. That was my main worry for the Suunto 3. But hey!! you people exist !!!

      I have no updates on availability of loan devices for me or general availability of the Suunto 3 at this stage.
      Watches are normally released before the weather starts to get warm….so should not be too long to wait.

      1. You’re welcome. This was my first post on sport watches due to the lack of experience…
        Instead of GPS barometrics would be nice to have though.
        Not for elevation tracking but for a ‘warning’ on rapid weather changes 😉

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