Smartwatches are not only becoming great at personal coaching, but they’re outdoing them. Slowly but steadily, a new breed of tracker is evolving.
Some smartwatches provide real-time personal coaching if you’re trying to shave 10 seconds off your 5k or aren’t sure whether you’re doing enough reps. This is a motivational feature and sees millions of users start working out and keep at it. They work by monitoring your performance and offering personalised words of encouragement or tips. If you’ve got Bluetooth headphones, this can be delivered right into your ears like a conversation.
A smartwatch is with you all the time and has an intimate idea of what’s good for you. In this way, smartwatch personal coaching is superior to the human version you see once a week at the gym.
We’re going to look at those fitness tracker features that are better than a human when it comes to personal coaching.
Counting the steps
Before heart rate monitors, tracking your movements was the primary justification for wearing a watch all day. The device’s accelerometer detects acceleration, and the software converts those gestures into measures. What’s more, it takes those measurements and provides goals based on what’s best for you.
Optical heart rate monitoring was once a technology reserved for high-end trackers. Today, most wearable devices provide it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Heart rate monitoring also provides a wealth of other data, such as VO2 max and resting heart rate, which are valuable indicators of your general cardiovascular health. High-end sports trackers also use heart rate monitoring. This offers information about the impact of your workout and how long you can rest afterwards.
Several fitness trackers now allow you to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) measure from your wrist. This ECG scan will detect atrial fibrillation or an erratic pulse. This is a common occurrence that you might have checked out by the doctor if the device detects it.
Watches that can take an ECG reading can even track your pulse in real-time. This will detect unusually low or elevated heart rates, or they can warn you to do an ECG if they detect any signs of an erratic heartbeat.
Forget personal coach; your smartwatch can be a therapist, too. Fitness trackers that can monitor the heart rate variability (the interval between heartbeats) can use this information to determine how stressed you are.
Some level of physical exertion is normal, but it must be counterbalanced by rest, usually when you sleep. Stress-tracking uses the heart rate variability to calculate a stress score. This is generally a basic number out of 100 and can help determine whether you’re allowing your body to heal regularly.
Track your sleep
When it comes to your physical wellbeing, sleep is just as critical as exercise and diet. Many sleep trackers now track how long you sleep and divide it into cycles of deep, medium, and REM sleep, helping you assess your sleep quality.
This knowledge may be helpful if you pay heed to what could be causing a poor night’s sleep (e.g., alcohol) or a good one. The best gadgets will help you develop better routines by enabling you to set a reminder for a regular sleep routine.
Tracking through GPS
Because your tracker has a GPS chip inside, it will accurately record speed, distance, and elevation throughout your outdoor activities such as running and cycling. Some trackers provide a middle ground solution that attaches to your mobile and uses the GPS signal to provide more precise monitoring (called Connected GPS), but you must keep your phone with you.
Look for trackers that are compatible with the other satellite tracking devices, like GLONASS, the Russian version of GPS, or Galileo, the German Union’s satellite system, if you’re serious about pinpoint accuracy.
Workouts that can be customised
Many mid-range fitness trackers have a basic bursts feature. However, for more complicated customisable exercises, you’ll have to spend $150 and up on a sports watch. You can also set up more nuanced routines on running and triathlon watches, with work cycles dependent on benchmarks like distance, heart rate, or speed rather than just time.
Any sports watches could go even further and make recommendations on the kind of training you can do each day. The FitSpark feature on Polar watches will do this because it analyses how efficiently you recover overnight, then recommends exercises depending on how ready you are to exercise that day. Garmin’s top-of-the-line multisport watches, such as the Forerunner 745, 945 and the Fenix 6 series, also have recommended exercises.
Track your swimming
Almost all trackers are water-resistant, meaning you can run through the rain or have a shower with them. But, if you’re a swimmer, you’ll need a waterproof design and a special swim mode. Some of the less expensive swim-proof Fitbits just monitor your time in the water automatically, whereas the Apple Watch 6 will automatically log what stroke, lap time, calories, etc.
- If swimming is important to you, check out what you should be looking for here.
We think you should always go for something that automatically detects your laps. More sophisticated watches will recognise specific strokes and monitor stats like stroke rate and SWOLF score.
Triathletes would probably like a system with an open-water swimming feature that uses GPS. This is something you’ll rarely see outside of a devoted setting.
Essentially, a smartwatch is like having a personal trainer on your wrist. In some cases, where the watch offers training tips and advice, this is literal! We think there are sports watches out there dedicated to providing you with such a personalised experience based on your own bespoke goals that you’ll find it hard to return to a paid-by-the-hour gym-bod again!
Last Updated on June 7, 2021
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