In his previous article, Frank Smuts delved into the benefits of using TrainingPeaks to improve your training methods and up your competitive game. This time around the veteran triathlete explains how using Garmin’s TrainingPeaks App helps make your regular training sessions that much easier.

Garmin has added TrainingPeaks as a preloaded or downloadable app to a selection of their GPS-enabled sports devices. But the question is, what exactly does it do for you? Would it add substantial value to your training program and fitness goals? The short answer is one big categoric yes. The bottom line is this great app from Garmin allows your TrainingPeaks training program to be synced daily to your Garmin device, without you ever having to lift a finger. The end result: You never need to check your TrainingPeaks website or mobile app to know what your training day looks like. The moment you get out of bed, just sync your sportswatch or bike computer with your smartphone, and your session will be waiting for you on your Garmin device. Just press start and go!

Why you should be using TrainingPeaks
TrainingPeaks makes managing and executing your daily training schedule extremely easy. Since your program gets loaded onto your watch as a structured workout, you never have to memorise any details like sets, distances or heart rate zones. Any intricate swim, run or cycling session will be laid out step by step as a workout. If you’ve ever programmed a workout in Garmin Connect, you’ll know exactly what it looks like. You’ll only be prompted to select the type of sport and, once you press the start button, you’ll be guided through the entire workout. If you’re in charge of your own program, the details of each session will be less of a problem. But if you make use of a coach, the benefit of using this format cannot be overstated.

When you start your session, the first screen you see will be TrainingPeaks’ default display indicating the pre-selected heart rate zone within which you have to stay for that session. You’ll even get alerts if you’re under or over the required HR zone. However, take note: These prompts are custom alerts (as programmed for every workout), not the zones you’ve set on your watch as per the Garmin manual. So in a way it’s as if your coach is running with you. This default, three-data field screen also includes a timer to countdown the distance of each session, along with your current speed or pace. This proprietary TrainingPeaks screen is there to guide you. But if you prefer the familiarity of your regular main screen, no problem – just one down-cursor press will take you there.

To activate this app, first make sure you have a premium TrainingPeaks account. Then open the app on your device or watch, and you’ll be guided through the connecting steps. It’s truly easier than making tea. Check out the shots below. Just four quick steps and it’s done!

The first time you open the TrainingPeaks app on your Edge 520/820/1000, Forerunner 735XT/935 or Fenix 5/5S/5X you’ll be guided step-by-step through the very easy authorization process.

How to build a workout
If you’re a coached athlete with a premium TrainingPeaks account, there’s no need for you to understand anything about constructing workouts. You’ll simply open up the app each morning to find your program for the day, ready and waiting courtesy of your coach. However, if you’re in charge of your own program, there are a few aspects you need to know about.

The main thing you need to be aware of is your workouts have to be built using TrainingPeaks’ workout builder. That’s because, if you construct a workout in the original-style TrainingPeaks dialogue box, it won’t upload. That said, if you have some mental resistance against another new learning curve, grin and bear it – your persistence will pay off, I promise. The workout builder is advantageous in ways you’ll only come to understand once you get used to it. Here’s a tip: To make life easier for future planning, always drag your workouts into your workout library. That way you won’t have to create new workouts all the time from scratch. Just drag existing workouts onto your calendar and edit them to your liking.

You construct a training session by putting a number of segments together (anything from one to infinity). Each segment can then be individually set in terms of duration or distance, along with other attributes including warm up, work or recovery. For example, if a segment is meant for recovery, duration would be your favoured setting, as you won’t be under pressure to deliver pace.

Once your TrainingPeaks account has been authorized to communicate directly with your Garmin account, your session will upload automatically to your watch. However, to make this happen your training sessions need to be constructed using the TrainingPeaks workout builder.

All the variables of a regular training session can be addressed with the workout builder. For instance, your effort level can be determined in terms of the five settings listed below:

  • FTP (Functional Threshold Power)
  • Maximum heart rate
  • Threshold heart rate
  • Threshold pace
  • Rating of perceived level.

If all of this confuses you, don’t stress. Start off with maximum heart rate and set the zones you want to stick to in your workout. Just make sure your zones are configured correctly in settings, as the program will calculate the heart rate alerts accordingly. Your watch will then reflect appropriate zones when you do the session, as well as guide you throughout the workout. If all this still sounds confusing, I suggest you book a coach and get some guidance. After all, knowledge is power and, once you properly understand TrainingPeaks, you can control it yourself. Best is to just dive straight in and start playing around with it.

As mentioned, the only other prerequisite is that you need a TrainingPeaks premium account to use this app. This comes in at R150 per month, or about the same as one large pizza – making it totally worth the spend. Anyway, if you’re a coached athlete, chances are the fee can be for your coach’s account.

Once you have selected your workout within the TrainingPeaks app, you can view the steps of the workout, and/or proceed with the session. The default TrainingPeaks screen has three data fields: a heart rate gauge, a distance/time count down and speed/pace indicator.

Other important details you need to know about
Your sportswatch or device downloads the workouts for every day, per day. You can’t download them prior to the day of execution, or in advance for the week. And, if you have more than one workout for the day, it’ll download all of them – but only for that day. Once your workout has been synced to your watch/device, you don’t need the phone to be around when you do the workout.

Here’s another thing to watch out for: If you interrupt a TrainingPeaks workout and save it as incomplete or discard it, you can’t just re-open it and start over. Instead, it’ll upload as incomplete and become unavailable on your watch. To make it appear again, the workout has to be re-added to your TrainingPeaks calendar and synced again to your watch. Then, when you save the completed workout, it’ll automatically upload to your Garmin Connect site and TrainingPeaks platform, ready to be analysed and interpreted as usual.

The TrainingPeaks app is another huge technical step that optimizes training efficiency, while keeping it simple at the same time. Kudos to TrainingPeaks and Garmin!

Compatible Garmin devices:

  • Edge 520/820/1000
  • Forerunner 735XT/935
  • Fenix 5/5S/5X

You can get the Garmin device that suits your needs from Navworld. Their knowledge and service are unsurpassed, so do yourself a favour and go visit their online store. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

You can also check out DC Rainmaker’s hands-on review of Garmin’s TrainingPeaks App below:

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