By monitoring key aspects of your cycling and fitness progress, you get a better look at your current performance level and what you need to do to keep up the good work or continue improving. Select Garmin devices collect data while you ride in order to bring you these cycling metrics and physiological measurements. It’s worth noting that some of these metrics need additional sensors such as power and heart rate. If your device is showing you stats, but you want to know more about what they mean, then you’ve come to the right place. What can you do with this calculated information? That’s up to you, but we’ve got some suggestions.
Training status gives you an overview of your longer-term training habits. This provides you with powerful insight into how your training is really going.
Provided by Firstbeat, the calculation utilizes several dimensions of your personal physiology. It considers changes in fitness level (your VO2 max), your current acute (7-day) training load and any change in training load, giving you guidance to help you improve your training decisions.
To explain in simple terms, when you stop training, your fitness level will decrease, but depending on your previous training load, a break from normal training routines may result in an increase in fitness level. Similarly, it’s expected that regular hard training will improve our fitness levels, but watch out — push too hard too often, and your fitness level will start to decrease due to the overtraining phenomenon.
As an example of how this works, imagine you’ve been training consistently for a number of weeks, and your fitness with normal, small day-to-day ups and downs is nevertheless increasing. This trend is automatically identified, and your current training will be classified as “productive.” Similarly, you could find yourself training very hard but notice your fitness starting a pattern of decline. In this situation, your training would be identified as “overreaching,” and additional recovery will be recommended.
The recognized training states are below.
Peaking – You are in ideal race condition. Your recently reduced training load is allowing your body to recover and fully compensate for earlier training. This peak state can only be maintained for a short time.
Productive – Keep up the good work. Your training load is moving your fitness in the right direction. Be sure to plan recovery periods into your training to maintain your fitness level.
Maintaining – Your current training load is enough to maintain your fitness level. To see improvement, try adding more variety to your workouts or increasing your training volume.
Recovery – Your lighter training load is allowing your body to recover, which is essential during extended periods of hard training. You can return to a higher training load when you feel ready.
Unproductive – Your training load is at a good level, but your fitness is decreasing. Your body may be struggling to recover, so pay close attention to your overall health, including stress, nutrition and rest.
Detraining – You’ve been training much less than usual for a week or more, and it’s affecting your fitness. Try increasing your training load to see improvement.
Overreaching – Your training load is very high and has become counterproductive. Your body needs a rest. Give yourself time to recover by adding lighter training to your schedule.
No Status – You typically need a week or 2 of training history — including recent activities with VO2 max results — before we can determine your training status.
VO2 max is the defining measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and aerobic performance capacity. The ability to see your current fitness level and track changes over time is a game-changer. It can help you set appropriate goals, evaluate progress and used to determine the effectiveness of your training. It can also provide the motivation you need to keep going and to reach your goals.
The Firstbeat analytics engine embedded in your Garmin cycling computer or watch uses your heart rate and power data to reliably estimate your VO2 max by identifying, analyzing and interpreting meaningful performance data during your ride. How hard you ride is placed into the context of how hard your body works to produce your performance.
There are certain environments, however, in which your body must work harder than normal to keep up the same speed or maintain the same power. Good examples include riding in especially hot and humid conditions or at high altitudes. Your device now automatically recognizes these situations and understands how your performance data is being affected as a result.
In addition to letting you see how well your body is adjusting to the environment, recognizing and accounting for the influence environment has on your performance improves the reliability of other metrics. This means more meaningful feedback in a growing number of tough environments.
This includes, for example, the feedback you get from the training status data screen, which interprets changes in your VO2 max in light of your current training load and activity history. If unrecognized and unaccounted for, a measurable decrease in aerobic performance capacity resulting from altitude or an unusually hot day could change your training status to Unproductive or Overreaching.
How long does it take to acclimate to heat and humidity?
The speed at which your body acclimates to elevated temperatures depends on several factors. One of the most significant factors is the difference between the conditions you are acclimating to and your normal environment. The bigger the change, the longer it takes to adapt. Altitude acclimation on your compatible Edge® works best if the rider has Wi-Fi® connectivity enabled and the Edge computer is in sleep mode. In this state, Edge will wake up overnight and check the living altitude level to ensure it is accurate and up to date. Similarly, heat acclimation will work best if Edge is connected to the rider’s phone, as this will ensure up-to-date local weather will be available on the Edge device.
Another factor is the frequency and duration of your workouts and time spent outdoors in the new environment. The acclimation processes are triggered by your direct exposure to the environment.
Evidence shows that prolonged daily outdoor exposures to challenging climates can produce the necessary adaptations in as little as one to two weeks. Athletes with a higher VO2 max typically adapt to challenging climates at a much faster rate, sometimes decreasing the acclimation period by as much as half.
Physiological Adaptations That Result From Acclimation
Improved skin blood flow responses
Improved cardiovascular stability (ability to sustain blood pressure and cardiac output)
Better fluid-electrolyte balance
Lower metabolic rate
Giving your body a chance to recover properly ensures you gain the maximum training benefit from your efforts. It also reduces injury risk and helps avoid the lasting consequences of overtraining syndrome.
Recovery time is a countdown timer that reveals when you can expect to be fully recovered and ready to benefit from a substantial challenge. This countdown timer is updated at the end of each activity. The amount of time added to your recovery timer is determined through analysis of the duration and intensity of your recorded activity interpreted in light of your current fitness level and activity history.
Any time remaining on your countdown timer at the start of a new activity is also taken into consideration.
For the most part, similar performances require similar amounts of recovery time, but sometimes it takes longer than normal to bounce back. An unusually hard workout or race performance is a good example. Another is when there is a sudden increase in your seven-day training load compared to normal. The shock of rapidly increasing your training load in a short period of time can produce residual fatigue, simultaneously increasing injury risks and the length of time it takes to bounce back.
A common misconception about recovery time is that it recommends complete rest until it has counted down to zero. Instead, recovery time is meant to indicate the time until you can expect to be sufficiently recovered for a hard workout. Many times an easy ride or run is OK – even beneficial – when your recovery time still shows considerable time remaining until complete recovery.
The amount of recovery time normally prescribed after a workout is now being adjusted based on new consideration from training effect and training load data.
What is training load?
Training load is an EPOC-based feature that helps you keep track of the combined strain of all your activities recorded with heart rate data. Your Edge cycling computer, watch and the Garmin Connect™ online fitness community provide views of your training load on a per-activity (for newer devices) and seven-day basis so you can see the immediate impact of each activity and your overall acute training load over the last week. Your chronic (four-week) training load is another load measure used internally in calculations for other features such as training status and training load focus.
EPOC is an acronym for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. It allows us to measure the impact of physical activity on your body in terms of the amount of restorative and adaptive work your body needs to perform after an activity. This is the work your body does to restore the dynamic equilibrium known as homeostasis.
Oxygen consumed is an indirect indicator of the amount of energy your body uses to put itself back together and better prepare you for the next challenge. Measuring the amount of extra oxygen your body uses after a workout compared to normal is how physiologists and sports scientists get a clear picture of the impact of an activity.
The Firstbeat analytics engine embedded in your Edge device or watch capably predicts the accumulation of EPOC in real time by analyzing heartbeat data and applying advanced mathematical modeling and machine learning.
Training Load Focus
During your activity with compatible devices, your performance is analyzed in real time to reveal the physiological impact of your activity and to understand the underlying efforts that produce it. This is achieved through understanding how various intensities and changes in intensity support and trigger adaptations in your body.
Anaerobic training load (purple): The number on the top row and accompanying colored bar show how much of your training load over the past four weeks was the result from anaerobic efforts. The key to increasing your anaerobic training load is doing activities that get your heart rate up quickly. These are typically high-intensity bursts of effort that are sustained for anywhere from several seconds to a couple of minutes at a time, mixed with low- to moderate-intensity recovery intervals during which your heart rate declines. Incorporating HIIT sessions into your program is a good way to make sure you get enough of your training load from anaerobic efforts.
Key example: Interval workouts
High aerobic training load (orange): The number on the middle row and accompanying colored bar reveal how much of your training load of the past four weeks was the result of sustained moderately high- to high-intensity activity. This is the strain that accumulates during efforts where your heart rate was significantly elevated and you maintained that high level of intensity for a few minutes up to — in some cases — more than 30 minutes.
Key example: Tempo rides
Low aerobic training load (light blue): The bottom number and accompanying colored bar shows how much of your training load over the past four weeks was produced during sustained low-intensity efforts. This is the portion of your training load that accumulates during “conversational pace” efforts, meaning that you are working but still able to talk and maintain a conversation.
Key example: Long rides
Making the Most of Training Load Focus
The training load focus data screen provides you not only with a graphical depiction of how your training load is distributed among the three major intensity categories but with qualitative feedback as well.
Shortage: You are lacking exercise in a training intensity category.
Balanced: Your training is well distributed across different levels of intensity.
Focus: Your training variety is reasonably well structured but is paticularly focused in one area.
In addition to the above three categories of load focus feedback, it is also possible to get feedback that your overall training load is too low (“Below Targets”) or too high (“Over Targets”).
The work you do to achieve a balanced training load is all about the fundamentals. It’s about laying a strong foundation upon which you can build. With a balanced foundation in place, you gain the confidence you need to focus on the aspects of preparation that will give you the edge you need to succeed in your challenge of choice.
Balance Is Needed for a Strong Foundation
When your training load is both optimal and balanced, it means that you are active enough to support and gradually improve your fitness level, and the composition of your activities is diverse enough to provide a solid foundation for future improvement. It means that your activities include enough time spent at high- and low-intensity aerobic efforts along with dynamic efforts to help enhance your explosive performance capabilities.
Focus for Winning
Every athlete knows that preparation is the key to success, and to be successful you must recognize and prepare for the unique demands of the challenge you face. With a balanced foundation in place, you can start to focus and guide the composition of your training load toward a performance profile that matches your ambition or phase of your periodization schedule.
Confirming that your training is properly targeted through training load focus gives you confidence that you are on the right track. When understood and utilized properly, this data can be transformed into your personal road map for achieving your goals and performing at a high level in a wide variety of pursuits. You can easily see when your training activities are lacking in one or more areas, and once you have a strong foundation in place, you are able to shoot for the stars by ensuring the composition of your training activities match up with the specific real-world demands of the challenge you want to tackle.
Training Load: Training Effect Label of Primary Benefit
In newer compatible products, you can get an idea of how your ride or run affects your training load focus as soon as you save your activity. A new color-coded label added to the training effect summary screen describes the primary benefit of what you have just done and where you can mostly expect it to contribute.
Note that the background of these labels are color-coded (purple, orange and light blue) to match the anaerobic, high aerobic and low aerobic bars used for your training load focus. When a recorded activity has no meaningful impact in one of the intensity categories, or it cannot be identified, the label background is simply gray, and no descriptive text is displayed.
ClimbPro is designed to help a rider manage their effort during a ride in the following two ways:
It shows upcoming climbs for the course, at what distance they occur and what length and gradient they are. This information is accessible in the course preview and is also available as a dedicated page within the timer loop during the activity.
For individual climbs, a dedicated ClimbPro page automatically appears as a rider approaches a climb. This page shows the rider their position on the climb as well as the distance, ascent and average gradient remaining for that climb. This constantly updates as the rider makes progress to the top.
How are climbs classified?
The feature is designed to help a rider during more significant climbs by not detecting every uphill section during a ride. It will currently classify a climb based on the following criteria:
Climb distance (meters) * average gradient (%) should be greater than 3,500.
A climb must be a minimum 500 meters in length.
Average gradient must be a minimum 3%.
We expect to continue to adapt this algorithm as we get more and more feedback from cyclists around the world.
What do the colors mean?
The colors indicate the gradient of the climb in the following ways:
In the climb preview list, the colors indicate the overall average gradient for the climb.
On the individual climb page, the colors indicate the average gradient for the highlighted section.
What does a rider need for ClimbPro to work?
A rider needs to be following a course that includes elevation data. This course can come from Garmin Connect or third-party platforms and should ideally be in .fit format.
Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
Your functional threshold represents the maximum power output you can sustain for 1 hour. Your FTP estimate will form the basis for your personalized power zones and for most power-based training plans.
Your compatible Edge can detect your Functional Threshold either through a guided workout or automatically during a normal ride. Either way, by gathering heart rate data across a range of power outputs, the device will estimate your threshold in terms of power output. You will find your FTP estimate improves over time as your device learns your overall fitness level. Your compatible Edge also shows your FTP as a watts/kg value in relation to your weight and displays it on a rainbow gauge. This allows you to very quickly compare your own power-to-weight ratio against riders of different sizes.
Your compatible Edge can calculate your FTP with the following 2 ways:
Using heart rate and power data, Edge takes you through a warmup followed by a gradual increase of targeted effort in 3–4 minute increments over a period of 15–20 minutes.
Based on your heart rate response to the increasing power effort, Edge calculates your FTP value.
You have the option to accept or reject this value. If you accept, your power zones will automatically recalculate based on the new value.
It is recommended this test is performed on a road with constant gradient or on an indoor trainer.
Auto FTP Detection:
If you set a personal 20-minute average power record, and if 95% of this value exceeds your current FTP estimate, we will prompt you to accept a new FTP value.
Again, you have the option to accept or reject this value.
Because of how our bodies work, the type of training you do determines the type of results you can expect and the types of performances you’ll be well prepared for in the future.
Training effect is the metric that gives you a sneak peek at how each training session is expected to impact your future fitness levels. One of the most common uses of training effect is to coordinate and balance workouts that maintain and improve your current fitness level. Your compatible Edge displays the following 2 types of training effect measures:
Aerobic Training Effect
This measures the aerobic benefit of exercise, which should correlate with the fitness improvement you expect to get from it.
Develops aerobic energy production
Utilization of fat for energy
Endurance and stamina
Prolonged performance capacity
Anaerobic Training Effect
Your body’s most efficient method of transforming fuel into energy requires oxygen, but sometimes your demand for energy exceeds the rate at which enough oxygen is immediately available. Luckily, your body has a backup process ready and waiting. While not nearly as efficient, the anaerobic energy process can jump into action and keep you going. The downside is that it becomes depleted quickly.
Develops anaerobic energy production
Improved sprinting abilities
Maximal performance capacity
Both aerobic and anaerobic training effects are mapped on a 0–5 scale that accounts for your fitness level and training habits.
For a real-time assessment of your current ability to perform, look at your performance condition. During the first 6 to 20 minutes of your ride, this metric analyzes power, heart rate and heart rate variability. The resulting number is a real-time assessment of the deviation from your baseline VO2 max, with each point on the scale representing about 1% of your VO2 max. The higher the number, the better you can expect to perform. Keep in mind that your results may vary a bit during your first few rides with a new device since it’s still learning your fitness level. This will stabilize, and checking your performance condition will become a reliable day-to-day indicator of your capability.
In addition to the alert during the first part of your ride, you can add performance condition as a data field to your training screens, and keep an eye on it as your ride unfolds. The value may move around slightly as you encounter hills or strong winds, but it will trend down once you have been going hard for a while and the ride starts to take a toll on you. This is an objective way to keep an eye on how your ability to perform is or isn’t declining as you go, because it’s telling you if your body is working harder than normal to ride at your current power output. So, performance condition can give you a bit of an early warning before you “bonk.”
HRV Stress Test
If you’re wondering whether your body is ready for a hard ride or in need of a lighter effort, it might be time to check your stress score. When you’re fresh and rested inside and out, you’re better able to absorb the training effect from a tough ride. However, the same hard ride can be counterproductive if you’re tired or on the verge of overtraining. Your stress score is calculated during a 3-minute test during which your heart rate variability (HRV) is analyzed. The resulting stress score is displayed as a number from 0 to 100, with a lower number indicating a lower stress state. This measurement helps you assess what level of activity your body is ready for. More accurate results are gathered by taking the test at the same time and under the same conditions every day (recommended prior to the ride, not after). This also helps you get a feel for your own day-to-day and week-to-week variations.
You are required to stand to take the HRV stress test, because that makes the test more sensitive to low and medium levels of stress. When you are lying down, moderate levels of stress may not be revealed, but standing puts a slight load on your cardiovascular system. That load causes a meaningful drop in HRV when you have a moderate amount of stress compared to very low stress.
Select Garmin cycling computers come with mountain bike-specific metrics to help you evaluate your ride performance and gain you some bragging rights. Whether you’re a flow master, a black diamond expert or somewhere in between, these key metrics record various aspects of your ride and some provide measurable data to show how you’re improving.
Grit measures the difficulty of a mountain bike trail. It takes into account factors such as the trail grade and the angle of turns along the trail. The grit score of a given trail should remain fairly consistent from rider to rider. It’s a useful metric for comparing the difficulty of the different trails that you ride.
Your Garmin device continuously calculates grit during your ride. Afterwards, when you sync with Garmin Connect, you’ll see a chart of the grit scores throughout the ride and an overall score for the ride in Garmin Connect. You can also view the grit rating along the trail on your activity map. The more difficult the trail, the higher the grit score should be.
Flow measures how well a rider maintains speed during a ride or sections of their ride. It takes into account factors such as your speed consistency throughout your ride, fluidity through turns and other factors. Your Garmin device continuously calculates flow during your ride. After the ride, when you sync, you will receive a chart of your flow scores all throughout the ride and an overall average flow score for the ride that you can view in Garmin Connect.
Lower flow scores indicate an overall smoother ride. Higher scores represent a ride with more speed fluctuations or stops. Flow is a useful metric for analyzing your ride performance on a trail. For example, you can compare flow scores between two rides on the same trail to look for areas of improvement or decline in how smoothly you were riding.
Devices with MTB metrics can automatically detect jumps on your mountain bike rides. They also calculate the speed, distance and hangtime for each jump and generate an overall score for the jump based on these metrics.
When you view the recorded activity in Garmin Connect, you’ll see a chart of your jump data. In addition to that, the location of each jump will be visible along the trail on your activity map. This helps you evaluate your jumps and compare the jumps you’ve done on a trail over time.
Whether you ride for competition, exploration or simply for fun, Garmin can help you gather the data to prove how hard you worked or aid you in improving your form. That’s because select devices, such as our dual-sensing Garmin Vector™ pedal-based power meter, let you access cycling dynamics. Cycling dynamics refers to a suite of advanced metrics designed to give comprehensive insight into how you’re riding and how your performance changes based on variables such as position, bike setup, ride duration and more. With cycling dynamics – cyclists, coaches, bike fitters and even physical therapists can analyze individual data for precise prescriptive actions.
You likely have a unique preference for position on the bike during climbs and sprints. Vector can detect and flag riding position (seated or standing) during a ride by comparing forces applied to the pedals. Your compatible Edge cycling computer will then display current position, summaries of how often and how long you have been in the position and power data, all in real time.
After your ride, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect™ online fitness community. There you can view each position, associated cadence and speed, and you can compare time spent seated vs. standing. Even learn how a certain position affects your power output, and analyze climbs and sprints. This detailed data gives you a dialed-in look at your ride and can be useful when determining position effectiveness and identifying tendencies to move positions during particular moments of a ride.
Power Phase (PP)
Power phase provides a valuable description of how you’re currently producing power in a pedal stroke. Vector detects where the leg is generating positive torque in a pedal stroke and where the greatest concentration of positive torque occurs. It also senses the angle at which these forces begin and end and where your concentration of power is produced. If you’re using the dual-sensing Vector power meter, you get to take your analysis one step further and see if there are differences between the left and right leg.
Power phase is measured as a combination of degrees and arc length, with 0 degrees representing the 12 o’clock position and 180 degrees representing the 6 o’clock position. The length of the power phase is measured by the difference between the starting and end angles. For example, a power phase starting angle of 5 degrees and a power phase end angle of 220 degrees would represent a power phase arc length of 215 degrees. With dual-sensing pedals, this information is provided for both your left and right legs. Then you can view where the majority of power is produced using the peak power phase metric (PPP). The default setting is for peak power phase to represent 50% of the power output, but this can be adjusted up or down depending on your preference.
You can view power phase metrics displayed graphically on Edge devices and on Garmin Connect. This makes it easier for you to visualize your pedal stroke.
Platform Center Offset (PCO)
The PCO measurement is calculated by identifying how force is distributed across the pedal platform during the pedal stroke. That means you can view and evaluate where force is applied relative to the center of the pedal platform and what the PCO distribution is over a given period of time. Analyzing this data can help you determine proper bike fit and cleat position. It may also be helpful in preventing injury and rehabilitation.
PCO is measured in millimeters. Positive values (e.g., +6 mm) indicate increased force toward the outside of the pedal, while negative values (e.g., -4 mm) indicate increased force toward the inside of the pedal. You can view this information in graph form on your Edge device. The red line indicates the current 10-second average value and the blue line represents the average for the previous 30 seconds.
The dual-sensing Vector pedals are not only able to measure your combined power output, they can also separate left-leg from right-leg power to let you know if 1 leg is producing more power than the other. In other words, how symmetrically are you pedaling?
Studies show that a large imbalance between the left and right leg force production can cause premature fatigue and even put you at increased risk for injury. That’s why it’s good to know if there’s significant asymmetry, so you can work on improving it. Symmetry means both legs are working equally hard, giving you better efficiency.
Garmin has the tools that improve your ability to see and be seen while you’re riding. Give yourself a little peace of mind with these cycling awareness accessories and features.
GroupTrack and LiveTrack Features
Let those in your riding group and those back at home keep track of you while you ride. By starting a LiveTrack or GroupTrack ride, you give your selected contacts the ability to follow you in real time and see where you’re located.
Riders with a compatible Edge now have the ability to send and receive prewritten messages. This makes it easy to stay in touch even when you fall out of sight.
Compatible Edge devices feature built-in incident detection. When an incident is detected, your GPS location will automatically be sent to designated friends and family.
Varia™ Rearview Radar
Varia rearview radar detects vehicles approaching from behind up to 140 meters (153 yards) and displays on your compatible Edge or Varia head unit.
Varia Smart Bike Lights
See and be seen with our smart bike lights. When paired with a compatible Edge device, the lights automatically adjust to ambient light and speed.
Upcoming Sharp Turn Alerts
When you’re on a bike, surprises aren’t always a good thing. Be better prepared for what’s ahead with on-device warnings for upcoming sharp turns when navigating.
Whether you ride on the road or off, Garmin is your guide. A variety of routing tools are available on your Edge device and through Garmin Connect so you can get bike-specific routes, find new points of interest, search for addresses and more. New features are introduced all the time, including Trendline™ popularity routing and the new Garmin Connect Course Creator. Here’s how those reliable routes are generated.
Garmin Connect Ride Data
Every year, billions of miles of riding data are uploaded by cyclists like you. Using this data, Garmin is able to create the best routes that are suited to your preferred type of riding and bike type.
On-device Navigation Options
Access the following tools right on your compatible Edge device:
Preloaded Garmin Cycle Maps - Built right into your Edge, Garmin Cycle Map provides routes both on and off road. Ride with confidence knowing that comprehensive navigation is right at your fingertips. It automatically chooses the most popular routes based on your bike type and can even recalculate to get you back on track if you make a wrong turn. You can route directly on your device in a variety of ways:
A to B Routes - These include simple, bike-specific routes from 1 point to another.
Round-trip Routes - Enter a distance and starting direction. Your Edge will show you up to 3 routes that bring you right back to your starting spot.
Imported Courses - Import courses directly from Strava or your favorite third-party route planning platforms.
Sign in to Garmin Connect on your desktop or mobile device to access even more tools to help you create the perfect ride.
Course Creator – Use the completely redesigned course creator on Garmin Connect to incorporate popularity data in your route planning. View heat maps of popular areas based on your selected course type so you can see where the other cyclists like to ride. If you’d rather incorporate your favorite routes from elsewhere, there’s a new import function that lets you download them directly into Garmin Connect.
Round-trip Course Creation – Available on the Garmin Connect™ Mobile app, you can plan a round-trip route, and send it straight to your compatible Edge device.
A Call to the Community
The dedication of the cycling community contributed immensely to the development of innovative new Garmin features such as Trendline popularity routing. As we continue to improve it, there’s one thing you can do to help. The more you can do to accurately categorize your rides or runs in Garmin Connect, the more useful popularity routing is going to be across activity types. Stay diligent about carefully differentiating your mountain bike rides from your road cycling rides, and the entire Garmin Connect community will benefit.
Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.