If you are a fan of indoor cycling, you might be wondering how your Apple Watch measures your performance and tracks your progress. Indoor cycling is a great way to stay fit, burn calories, and improve your cardiovascular health. But how does your Apple Watch know how hard you are working and how far you are going?
In this blog post, we will explain how the Apple Watch measures indoor cycling, what metrics it tracks, and how you can use them to optimize your workouts. We will also share some tips on how to get the most out of your Apple Watch when cycling indoors.
How the Apple Watch Measures Heart Rate
One of the most important metrics that the Apple Watch tracks for indoor cycling is your heart rate. Your heart rate reflects how hard your heart is working to pump blood and oxygen to your muscles and organs. It also indicates how intense your exercise is and how many calories you are burning.
The Apple Watch uses optical sensors on the back of the device to measure your heart rate during exercise sessions. The sensors emit green light that penetrates your skin and reflects off your blood vessels. The amount of light that is reflected varies depending on how much blood is flowing through your wrist. The sensors detect these changes and use them to calculate your heart rate.
The Apple Watch also has built-in algorithms explicitly designed for cyclists, which help it accurately detect changes in effort levels throughout a ride. The algorithms use data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and GPS (if available) to determine when you are pedaling, coasting, or braking.
They also use data from the barometer (if available) to determine when you are climbing or descending. These data help the Apple Watch adjust the heart rate measurement accordingly and provide more accurate feedback.
What Metrics Does the Apple Watch Track for Cycling?
Besides heart rate, the Apple Watch tracks the following metrics for cycling:
- Time: The duration of your indoor cycling session.
- Active Calories: The estimated number of calories you burn from physical activity during your indoor cycling session.
- Distance: The estimated distance you cover during your indoor cycling session (based on GPS data from your iPhone).
- Speed: The estimated average and maximum speed during your indoor cycling session (based on GPS data from your iPhone).
You can view these metrics on your Apple Watch during and after your cycling session by swiping left or right on the screen. You can also view them on your iPhone by opening the Activity app and tapping on the Workout tab.
For indoor cycling, you can only get the time, calories burned and heart rate when using the native workout app. However, you can pair a speed sensor and/or cadence sensor to your Apple Watch so you can get speed and/or cadence data during your workout.
Likewise, you can also connect your Apple Watch to a power meter or compatible trainer to get even more cycling data.
How to Connect Compatible Bluetooth Accessories for Cycling Workouts
This is how to connect your speed sensor, cadence sensor, power meter, or trainer to your Apple Watch, according to Apple Support.
- Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
- Tap Bluetooth, then below Health Devices, tap the sensor you want to connect.
- Below Set Up Device, tap next to an option to change the wheel size or crank length.
After setting up the accessory, it automatically connects to your Apple Watch when you start a cycling workout.
How to Use the Metrics to Optimize Your Indoor Cycling Workouts
The metrics that the Apple Watch tracks for indoor cycling can help you monitor your performance and progress over time. You can use them to set goals, track trends, and adjust your intensity level according to your fitness level and desired outcome.
Here are some tips on how to use the metrics to optimize your indoor cycling workouts:
- Time: Set a time goal for each indoor cycling session and try to stick to it. You can also vary the duration of your sessions depending on your schedule and energy level. For example, you can do shorter sessions with higher intensity or longer sessions with lower intensity.
- Heart Rate: Use your heart rate as a guide to adjust your intensity level during your indoor cycling session. You can use the heart rate zones feature on your Apple Watch to see which zone you are in and how hard you are working. The zones are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. The zones are:
- Zone 1 (Below 50%): Very light effort, good for warm-up and cool-down.
- Zone 2 (50% to 70%): Light to moderate effort, good for endurance training and fat burning.
- Zone 3 (70% to 85%): Moderate to hard effort, good for improving aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health.
- Zone 4 (85% to 95%): Hard to very hard effort, good for improving anaerobic fitness and power.
- Zone 5 (Above 95%): Very hard to maximal effort, good for short bursts of speed and strength. You can aim to spend more time in higher zones as you get fitter and stronger, or vary the zones depending on your training plan and goals.
- Active Calories: Set a calorie goal for each indoor cycling session and try to achieve it. You can also track how many calories you burn over time and see how it affects your weight and body composition. However, keep in mind that the calorie estimates are not very accurate and depend on many factors, such as your metabolism, body type, diet, hydration level, etc. Therefore, do not rely solely on them to measure your progress or adjust your nutrition.
- Total Calories: Track your total calorie burn over time and see how it affects your weight and body composition. However, as mentioned above, do not rely solely on them to measure your progress or adjust your nutrition.
- Distance: Track your distance over time and see how it affects your speed and endurance. However, as mentioned above, do not rely solely on them to measure your progress or adjust your intensity, as they are not very accurate when cycling indoors.
- Speed: Track your speed over time and see how it affects your distance and power. However, as mentioned above, do not rely solely on them to measure your progress or adjust your intensity, as they are not very accurate when cycling indoors.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Apple Watch When Cycling Indoors
The Apple Watch is a great device for tracking your indoor cycling workouts, but it can be even better if you use some additional features and accessories. Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of your Apple Watch when cycling indoors:
Use a third-party app
The Apple Watch comes with a built-in Workout app that offers indoor cycling as one of the options. However, you can also use a third-party app that offers more features and customization for indoor cycling. Some of the popular apps for indoor cycling are:
- Zwift: A virtual cycling app that lets you ride with other cyclists from around the world on realistic 3D courses. You can join races, group rides, workouts, and challenges, and earn rewards and achievements. You can also sync your Apple Watch with Zwift to track your heart rate and control the app from your wrist.
- Peloton: A fitness app that offers live and on-demand indoor cycling classes led by professional instructors. You can choose from thousands of classes with different music, styles, and difficulty levels. You can also sync your Apple Watch with Peloton to track your heart rate and control the app from your wrist.
- Strava: A social fitness app that lets you track, analyze, and share your indoor cycling workouts with other athletes. You can also join clubs, challenges, and events, and compete with other cyclists on leaderboards and segments. You can also sync your Apple Watch with Strava to track your heart rate and control the app from your wrist.
Use an external sensor
The Apple Watch can track some basic metrics for indoor cycling, but it cannot track some advanced metrics, such as cadence (pedal revolutions per minute), power (watts), or torque (force applied to the pedals). If you want to track these metrics, you will need to use an external sensor that can connect to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth. Some of the popular sensors for indoor cycling are:
- Wahoo RPM Cadence Sensor: A wireless sensor that attaches to your shoe or crank arm and measures your cadence. It can connect to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth and display your cadence on the screen.
- Wahoo RPM Speed Sensor: A wireless sensor that attaches to your wheel hub and measures your speed. It can connect to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth and display your speed on the screen.
- Wahoo KICKR Power Meter: A wireless sensor that attaches to your bike trainer and measures your power. It can connect to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth and display your power on the screen.
In conclusion, the Apple Watch is a great tool for tracking your performance and progress during indoor cycling workouts. With its built-in sensors and algorithms, it can accurately measure your heart rate, duration, calories burned, distance, and speed. By using these metrics, you can optimize your workouts, set goals, and monitor your fitness level over time. Additionally, by connecting compatible Bluetooth accessories, you can get more cycling data and improve the accuracy of your metrics. So, if you’re a fan of indoor cycling, don’t hesitate to use your Apple Watch to take your workouts to the next level.