Firstbeat Analytics, The Strong New Partner that Joined Garmin: When Chemistry Occurs Between Professionals

The well-known brand, Firstbeat Analytics, that had supported many wearable device models, officially joined Garmin’s big family. For all the users of the running watches of various brands, this company is certainly no stranger, but may also not be that familiar. Next, we’ll guide you to getting a deeper understanding of this new member of Garmin’s big family. 

Extended Reading: Garmin Acquired the Well-Known Global Physiological Data Analysis Company: Firstbeat Analytics 

New Features in Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment - Firstbeat


Firstbeat originated in Finland. It was originally derived from a joint research conducted by the Finnish Olympic Sports Research Office and the University of Jyväskylä. Through an evaluation of over 100,000 actual data accumulated for 20 years, such as the VO2 max and energy consumption measurement in the laboratory, a huge numeric database belonging to one’s own profession is developed. 

The Firstbeat team is mainly endorsed by a large number of physiologists. The team’s main areas of expertise include the following, which covers important elements, such as training, performance, and recovery required by professional athletes: 

1. Measurement of autonomic nervous system function; 

2. Training and performance of endurance sports, and the recovery after training; 

3. Physiological and psychological tracking and prediction of athlete’s overtraining; 

4. Tracking of physiological and psychological pressure. 

Next, you’re probably wondering, in my Garmin watch, which data is from Firstbeat? 

1. Heart Rate Variability & Stress Index 

The stress index on the Garmin watch tells us when we should relax, and the reference indicator behind it is the heart rate variability from Firstbeat. The rhythm of the heartbeat can provide us with a lot of information. Heart rate variability is the degree of difference between different heartbeat intervals. It is currently considered to be affected by the regulation of the autonomic nervous system. The following will also affect heart rate variability: 

a. Breathing 
b. Hormonal response 
c. Metabolism and energy consumption 
d. Cognitive and mental burden 
e. Physiological training and physiological burden 
f. Stress response 



During relaxation and recovery, the heart beats comparatively more irregularly, and the heart rate variability increases. Under pressure, the heart rate variability will then be comparatively lower. Generally speaking, the heart rate and the heart rate variability are roughly inversely related. The external factors which affect the heart rate variability include the burdens of training and work, while the internal factors include malnutrition, illness, and drinking of alcohol, etc. 

Through Firstbeat’s heart rate variability database, Garmin further converts the data into stress index and body energy index, which allows us to quickly and more concisely understand our physical stress status. 

1VO2 Max 

VO2 max represents the maximum amount of oxygen that the human body can consume in one minute. At the same time, it is also an important cardiopulmonary capacity indicator. The traditional VO2 max had to be carried out in the laboratory, by using the maximum strength to exercise. Specific equipment is also required to collect and obtain the gas that is being breathed in order to analyze it. It is relatively inconvenient in operation, and because one need to push oneself to one’s physical limit, the physical and mental pressure is also greater for the user. 



Firstbeat brings VO2 max out of the laboratory, making it easier to track our physical fitness in running, cycling, and other sports. Through multi-point analysis of the relationship between the heartbeat and speed during exercise, and a unique algorithm, one can obtain the oxygen uptake information at that moment. We can’t say that that this result is just as accurate as those from the laboratory, but this is of great value for the long-term tracking of physical progress. 

The value of VO2 max allows users to use a consistent method to see the improvement of physical fitness. For beginners, through 4-10 weeks of appropriate training, the value of VO2 max can be effectively increased by 10-20%. However, for more advanced trainers, the growth rate will be less obvious or more volatile. 

2Lactate Threshold 

When the rate of lactate threshold is reached, the rate of lactate metabolism and production is equivalent, which shows a stable balance. For most people, the lactate concentration in the blood is about 4 mmol/L. At present, the detection of the rate of lactate threshold is mainly based on a continual tracking of lactate concentration by a gradual increase in speed, combined with a continuous blood sampling through fingers or earlobes. For most people, this operation method is more invasive and relatively difficult. 

Through Firstbeat technology, Garmin watches can automatically detect the heart rate and pacing corresponding to the lactate threshold (heart rate band must be worn) during exercise in a non-invasive situation. The watch mainly uses the analysis of our heart rate, pace, and heart rate variability and the evaluation of the change in our respiratory rate. When the lactate threshold intensity is exceeded, the body’s required oxygen consumption and lactate concentration will rise rapidly, which are reflected on the rapidly rising heart rate and respiratory frequency. The watch can then use this inflection point to calculate the corresponding heart rate and pacing when the lactate threshold is reached. 

Extended Reading: Use Garmin Watch, and Quickly Understand Your Physical Fitness through Lactate Threshold 

3. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and Training Effect 

EPOC is a type of training physiological index, with mL/kg as the unit. It can reflect the fluctuation of the body state after exercise, and can be used as a reference for the load and recovery caused by exercise. Similar to the measurement of oxygen uptake, EPOC must also be collected in the laboratory through specific instruments in order to be analyzed. Firstbeat uses an algorithm to accurately estimate the EPOC by detecting the heart rate during training and the fitness index at that moment. In the Garmin watch, it is converted into training load. 

In addition, based on the known EPOC load value, Firstbeat further calculates the training effect (Training Effect) of said training session. The value ranges from 0 to 5, which respectively symbolizes the mildest training to overtraining. In recent years, it has been further divided into aerobic and anaerobic, which can help us better grasp the effectiveness of each training session. 



Many Garmin professional training functions and health tracking data are from Garmin’s partner, Firstbeat Analytics. I believe that with them joining us, the training and health data presentation of Garmin watches in the future will be able to reach new heights.