There’s no disputing that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is one of the best sports watches available, and the Apple Watch Series 9 is among the top fitness smartwatches. That’s partly down to Apple continuing to update the software on the watches to improve its sports features.
One of the major updates in watchOS 10 was Apple opening up the native Workout app to third parties, so it’s possible to sync structured workouts from other platforms to the Workout app to use with an Apple Watch.
When Apple announced the feature, one of the services Apple chose to illustrate the possibilities this change opened up was TrainingPeaks, and for good reason. TrainingPeaks is an advanced and incredibly popular training platform, used by tens of thousands of coaches to set plans for their clients, and many more athletes who use the workout builder and training analysis tools TrainingPeaks provides.
The TrainingPeaks integration with Apple Watch is now live, and I have been testing it out for a week ahead of its launch. I’m a keen runner who has worked with a coach for several years, but this is the first time I’ve used TrainingPeaks (although I have experienced its training analysis before because Suunto uses it in its watches, such as the Suunto Race).
At first, TrainingPeaks can feel a little overwhelming. The user interface isn’t the most elegant and not especially intuitive. Once you get your eye in, however, keen athletes will welcome the depth of features available.
If you manage your own training load you can create all your workouts on TrainingPeaks, fine-tuned to the last details, using targets based on things like your heart rate, power or threshold pace zones.
These workouts can now be set to automatically (or manually) sync over to the Apple Watch, where they appear in the Workout app as a structured workout. On the day you’ve planned to do the workout it will appear at the top of the app, and you can also see upcoming and past workouts from TrainingPeaks in the Workout app. Tap the workout to start and follow it exactly as if you were following a structured workout created in Apple’s app.
When I tested the integration I could send running and cycling workouts over, and in time you’ll be able to do this with any sports profile in the Workout app that allows structured workouts. Notably this doesn’t currently include swimming, so you won’t be able to send swimming workouts from TrainingPeaks.
The integration with TrainingPeaks means that it’s now much easier to use the Apple Watch with one of the most sophisticated training platforms out there and will help the Apple Watch Ultra 2 in particular continue to establish itself as a rival to top sports watches like the Garmin Fenix 7.
One area where Apple does not attempt to compete with sports brands directly is through training analysis, and so linking up the watch to TrainingPeaks, which does extensive training analysis, adds an important and useful feature to the watch.
You can also find coaches and training plans on the platform to guide your training, in which case the scheduled workouts will automatically fill your calendar and be sent to the Apple Watch to follow each day.
You will need a premium account on TrainingPeaks to get the most from the service, which costs $19.95 a month or $124.99 a year, but there is a 14-day free trial you can try first. If you have an Apple Watch and are a keen runner or triathlete, it’s definitely worth trying this out to see if the extra tools and analysis you get from TrainingPeaks will improve your sports tracking experience on the watch.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.