Training with Apple Watch and Training Peaks

I hadn’t worn a watch of any kind for 10 years. Then we raced in a few triathalons and had to get a heart rate monitor, which is a huge watch. I didn’t wear it all the time cause it was ugly and I don’t really need to check the time too much. I have a phone that I look at all day long for that.

Then the Apple watch came out. I have my music on my wrist and with AirPods can wirelessly connect to it. It has cell connection so I can send and receive texts and phone calls. It connects to my weather app so I can see the weather. It tracks my heart rate all day so I know when I am going to die. 😀

Most importantly it tracks my workouts with heartrate and GPS and sync flawlessly with the Health App on my iPhone. Heart Rate training is very helpful to avoid overtraining while improving your endurance fitness, which is what biking mostly is.

Heart rate training with Traning peaks

When I trained for the triathalons we had coaches review our training data in an online software program called Training Peaks. TP was developed by Joe Friel and some other smart people to help athletes understand what their training was doing to their bodies. Part of this methodology is the Training Stress Scores or TSS.

TSS combines various data about your workout to give you a more clear understanding of your effort in that workout. Since my workouts are measured with a heart rate monitor my TSS is known as hrTSS:

Heart Rate Training Stress Score (hrTSS)
Applicable Workout Types: All workout types
Accuracy Level: hrTSS is quite accurate with steady-state effort workouts, but is less accurate for workouts with highly fluctuating efforts.  hrTSS will only be used if there is not enough data to calculate TSS, rTSS, or sTSS, and the below requirements to calculate are met.
Requirements to Calculate: Workout time series heart rate data, user threshold heart rate (entered in heart rate zones)
What is hrTSS? Heart Rate Training Stress Score (hrTSS) is based on time in heart rate zones (based on users lactate threshold heart rate), and is not as accurate as Powermeter based TSS or running pace baced rTSS.  TrainingPeaks uses the table found in the article below for calculating heart rate training stress score:

Training Stress Scores (TSS) Explained

The issue with using an Apple Watch with Training Peaks is that TP has no mechanism for transferring the watch data to their software. This seems crazy to me but whatever.

Transferring data to TP

The good news is that there are a number of apps created for taking data from Apple’s Health App and uploading it to TP. I use one called HealthFit, it costs $3 and is really easy to use.

Once you have HealthFit and the TP apps installed on your iPhone you just need to go workout. HealthFit supposedly updates in the background but I find I have to open it up and let it think for a second or 25 and then it uploads the data to TP.

Once the data is in TP I can get a better understanding of how hard I worked in my workouts and avoid overtraining.


Training Peaks is free to use unless you want all their bells and whistles. Its $20 a month or $120 a year, which since I am just getting back into training is a lot of cash. Instead I just use the Free version.

One part of the Free version that is missing is the ability to segment your workouts. This is really helpful for when testing for your Functional Threashold Heart Rate or FTHR.

To find your FTHR you ride about as hard as you can for 20 minutes. Then take your average heart rate for that segment, multiply by 0.95, and you have your FTHR. All you need to do is remember to double tap the watch face at the start and end of the test to set laps. In TP those transfer in as segments, boom!

Then you take that number and plug it into a calculator like this:

Bike Zones
Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Joe Friel’s Quick Guide to Setting Zones

(Note that LTHR stands for Lactate Threshold Heart Rate and is often used interchangably with FTHR. If you are advanced enough for this to be an issue then you don’t need to be reading this site. 😀)

Once you have your zones figured out you will know where you need to have your heart rate during your exercises. Since I am getting back into things I am mainly training in Zone 2 for the next 6 to 12 months. After then I will have a good base to start building with tempo workouts.

Thats how I have setup my Apple Watch to work with Training Peaks for minimal costs. I use an Apple Watch 3 with Cellular. Currently you can get a non-cellular 3 for $199 and a cellular for $299. For highly accurate heart rate monitors that you always have on thats a pretty smoking deal.

By Roger

Roger lives fulltime in a 2008 Jayco Travel Trailer with his wife Kate and their dog's Dazey and Enzo. He works fulltime but is open to early retirement anytime.