Our guide shows how to use the Apple Watch’s Workout app to track your cardio & other exercise sessions and produce detailed stats on heart rate, distance covered, time, speed and more
We look at the Apple Watch’s Activity app elsewhere, which tracks time spent moving, exercising, sitting and standing and helps you to aim for daily and longer-term goals. But for a specific cardio workout, you need the, er, Workout app on your Apple Watch. We show how to use all the functions of Workout in this tutorial.
We’ll show how to set a target in time, calories burned or distance, how to change the distance measurement from miles to kilometres, how to view your stats after the workout is complete and much more.
Open the Workout app. Either press the Digital Crown to go to the Home screen, then tap the green icon with the running man on it; or tap the side button, scroll through the dock until you see the Workout app and tap it.
When you open Workout you’re immediately presented with a list of workout types: they will tell you the type of activity (outdoor walk, indoor run, pool swim) and the target (calorie-, distance or time-based, or open goal). Recent workouts will appear at the top. Scroll through and tap one to start the workout. There will be a three-second countdown, and then you’ll be off.
Changing the target
Apple has really streamlined Workout since watchOS 1.0; in the olden days you had to select a target every time, but now the last-used target is chosen by default. But what if you did an open goal last time and want to set a calories target now, or vice versa? This has become a tiny bit trickier.
In the select screen, find the workout type you want, but instead of just tapping it to start, tap the little circle with three dots at the top right. This opens a new menu where you can select Open, Calories, Distance or Time. If you pick any but the open option, you will then have to set this metric (adjust the number using the Digital Crown dial, or by tapping the plus and minus buttons), and finally tap Start.
In certain cases you won’t be able to set a distance to aim for – the Apple Watch can’t tell how far you’ve gone on the rowing or elliptical machine for obvious reasons.
Changing the units
Want to know how to set a distance target on the Apple Watch in kilometres instead of miles? Press firmly on the display while you’re on the distance set screen and then tap the KM icon.
Similarly, when you’re on the calories target screen a hard press will give you the option to select Kilojoules instead.
View progress during your workout
There’s two kinds of workout views: Single Metric and Multiple Metric.
Single Metric, as the name suggests, shows only one metric as you exercise: distance covered, time elapsed or whatever. You can change which metric you see by rotating the Digital Crown.
Multiple Metric shows a small number of metrics that you cannot change on the go. You can only rotate the Digital Crown dial, which changes which of the metrics is highlighted. The others will be plain white.
If you would like to customise the metrics you see in Multiple Metric view (or switch to Single Metric view, or from Single to Multiple for that matter), you need to go into the Watch app on your companion iPhone. In the My Watch tab, scroll down and tap Workout (the last on a long list of Apple apps, starting with Activity).
At the top you’ll see an option labelled Workout View, which will say either Multiple Metric or Single Metric: tap this. Now select either Multiple or Single at the top and then (assuming you’ve picked Multiple) select a workout type for which you’d like to customise the metrics.
Tap Edit at the top right and you’ll be able to tap the red minus icon to remove a metric, tap the green plus icon to add a metric, and use the triple-line icons to change the order. Tap Done when you’re finished. Unfortunately you have to repeat this process for each workout type: it’s nice to be able to use different views on different workouts, but we’d appreciate a button that lets you set the view once and then apply to all.
Double-tap the screen during a workout to tell the app that you’ve just completed a segment. It will then be able to give you separate information about that segment in the analysis at the end.
Play or change music
During your workout you can swipe from right to left across the screen and jump to a music control screen.
Pause or finish a workout, or start a second one
Swipe from left to right across the screen during a workout and you’ll see three or four options:
- End: Ends the workout.
- Pause: Stops the workout temporarily, but you can come back and carry on later and the metrics will be continuous.
- Lock: Activates the water lock. This won’t appear on first-gen and Series 1 models of Apple Watch.
- New: The most interesting. Tap this and you’ll be able to start a new workout type – jump from treadmill to exercise bike, say. The metrics will be combined at the end (but you’ll get individual info for each segment).
Get your summary
When you tap End, you’ll see the summary screen, which lists the time, distance, calories, average pace and so on for your workout. Scroll down to the bottom and tap Done when you’ve read enough. (You no longer get the option of saving or not saving the data – it all goes to the Health app now.)
A more detailed summary of your workout, including a map of your progress if you’ve got GPS, can be found by opening the Activity app on the companion iPhone and selecting the Workouts tab.
Do I need to take my iPhone with me on my workout?
If you’ve got a first-gen or Series 1 model, Apple recommends that you take the companion iPhone along on runs a few times to improve accuracy. After you’ve done a few runs with both iPhone and Apple Watch, the latter will start to learn your stride length and running style and will be able to make more accurate estimates of distance.
The Apple Watch Series 2 and later have built-in GPS, so don’t need any help from the iPhone.