Fitness trackers and smartwatches are enjoying huge success at the moment. With 1 in 3 people set to own one within a few years, it's important you know how to make the most of yours! More companies than ever are hopping onto the bandwagon, with giants like Apple, Garmin and even Epson getting involved, it seems everyone wants a slice of the action. If you have a tracker wrapped around your wrist, here are some top tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your device.
1. Wear the watch on your less dominant arm
Whilst a lot of fitness watches have apps where you can enter which hand you're wearing the watch on, there are multiple advantages to wearing your watch on the less dominant hand. Fitness trackers can be an expensive investment, so placing it on your less dominant hand means it is less likely to get bashed and bumped while you move. Your less dominant arm moves less, which means you are less likely to get incorrect data from your tracker thinking you're taking steps when you're not, for example. Finally, wearing your fitness tracker on your less dominant hand can provide more accurate sleep data.
2. Make sure you can connect your wearable via Bluetooth
If you find that your fitness tracker is struggling to connect to your phone via Bluetooth, make sure your phone is not also connected to lots of other apps via Bluetooth (ie car speakers or wireless headphones.)
3. Don’t be fooled by inaccurate data readings
It's important to take your fitness readings with a pinch of salt. Particularly if your tracker has a built-in heart rate monitor, it will never be as accurate as a chest strap. Your step count may be slightly out and your calories too, so just make sure you are relaxed about your readings and don't let them affect the rest of your training and your nutrition.
4. Keep it charged
Never start the day with low battery because you know by the time you make it to the gym, your battery is going to have died. Many wearables will have settings in the app which can optimise your battery usage, such as switching off all-day sync or swapping to battery saving mode, but really it's a matter of scheduling an appropriate time to add into your routine for wearable charging. If your watch isn’t waterproof, why not charge your watch when you're in the shower? It will help you to remember to take it off before showering and prevent breaking it as well as getting you into the routine of charging it regularly.
5. Utilise and sync with other apps
Leading fitness apps such as Myfitnesspal, Strava and Map my Run work with most fitness wearables to give you a more rounded picture of your health and can enhance your tracker’s data to help you reach your full potential. If you really want to get the most out of your tracker, sync with other apps to enhance your experience.
6. Create an accurate user profile
With most wearables apps, you're asked to set up your user account before using the device. Data such as your age, weight, height and gender are entered before you can get started so that your tracker can analyse your profile and give you accurate readings. Make sure that you keep your measurements as accurate as possible so that you can get the most from your tracker - if you're not sure of your weight, go and weigh yourself, if you're not sure of your height, ask someone to measure you. It'll be worth it!
7. Be consistent
The more data you give to your tracker, the more accurate the analysis will be. If you have an all-day activity tracker with built-in heart rate monitor, step counter, sleep tracker etc then make sure you do wear it all day and make the most of the features. The more you run, bike, and walk, the more your tracker will be able to analyse your habits and give you a clearer picture of your health and fitness stats. For example, Garmin trackers that offer VO2 Max readings will need you to run consistently to get an accurate reading and they can offer race predictions after a few consistent training runs.
8. Add friends
Sharing your progress with friends can inspire you to work harder, and can incentivise them to get involved too! Most fitness apps allow you to add friends so that you can view each other's progress, but not only that, you can get competitive and race against each other. Start competitions or challenges and go head to head with friends or running club buddies to encourage you to stay consistent with your training and push yourself harder than if you were training alone.
9. Update your progress
As you gain or lose weight, your training stats will change. For example, if your starting weight is 140lbs but you drop to 120lbs, you will be burning fewer calories by doing the same things. Make sure you let your tracker/app know when you have lost or gained weight, had a birthday, anything that may affect your training stats.
10. Remember to wear it
As mentioned above, consistency is key. It'd be a shame to get a good streak going and then forget to wear your watch. Try to wear it every day (and every night if it tracks sleep) so that you can make the most of the data. However, remember that the stats are just a guide and try not to get too bogged down! It's all for fun and is supposed to help you lead a healthier life, not get stressed because you're constantly checking your heart rate or sleep pattern.
Looking for a new smartwatch or fitness tracker? Check out our ‘Wearables Review’ section to get the latest info on which watch is right for you!
Claire Steels is a professional duathlete and has a World Champion title to her name. She gives Sundried a snapshot of a training session along with all the stats and data so you can see what it's really like to train as a pro.
2 x (10 x 10 seconds effort : 50 seconds recovery)
The majority of the training I have done on the bike is for TT (time trial) type efforts, however as I am looking to move into road racing I need to develop a bit more explosive power.
This sessions was aimed at developing such power and improving my sprint speed.
Short, sharp efforts with a longer recovery sounds okay, but by the end of the set the 50 seconds recovery feels far too short!
I did this session on the Wattbike and then uploaded the data to Strava.
The screenshots attached show my speed, heart rate and then the last shot shows speed, heart rate, power and cadence.
Speed, power and cadence are fairly consistent across all of the efforts, although they drop a little towards the end. Heart rate spikes for each of the efforts but also gradually increases across the whole session.
I find sessions like this challenging and frustrating but in a strange way it means I enjoy them more! Weird I know!