10 Apple Watch Workout Tips You Need to Know

Want to make the most of your workouts? The Workout app on your Apple Watch can help. From setting and tracking workout goals to using a shortcut to quickly pause your exercise sessions, you’ll find plenty of Apple Watch workout tips and tricks here.

Customize Workout Views

You can switch between multiple views during a workout by swiping up and down on the screen or scrolling the Digital Crown. Different workout types use different views by default. For example, during a run, you’ll see a view for Heart Rate Zones. And during a hike, you’ll see an elevation chart to show your altitude gained.

You can add different views to any workout of your choice and change the information shown on these different screens.

To do this, launch the Workout app, then tap on the ellipsis “…” icon next to the activity you’d like to edit. From here, tap on the “Pen” icon next to the workout goal you will be using, followed by the “Workout Views” button.

Customize Workout to access Workout Views option

Next, tap “Edit Views” to see the various workout views available. On the next screen, tap the “Pen” icon on a workout view to swap out metrics like maximum heart rate or active energy burned.

Scroll down to see other workout views, then tap the “Include” button to toggle the view on and off. You can tap on the “Reorder” button at the very bottom of the screen and drag the screens to reorder them.

Customize Workout to access Workout Views option

You can’t edit these workout views while your workout is running, so make sure you’re happy with what you see before settling in for a long hike or gym session.

Set Workout Goals

An “Open Goal” is the most common type of workout, allowing you to run, walk, or train for as long as you want until you manually end the workout. But if you’d rather work toward a specific goal, you can start a goal-oriented workout instead.

To do this, tap on the ellipsis “…” next to the workout activity you’re about to undertake. Depending on the workout type, you’ll have a few different options available to you. These include Time, Distance, Calories (or Kilojoules), and Custom.

Change goals for Workout type on Apple Watch

You can also choose “Create Workout” and add your own metrics.

Some workouts like Outdoor Run have preset goals like “8x400m repeats” or “Pacer.” Tap on the “Pen” icon next to a goal to customize it to your liking.

Use (or Disable) Auto-Pause for Running and Cycling

If you want your workout to automatically pause when you do, you can enable this setting by launching the Watch app on your iPhone and tapping “Workout” followed by the “Auto-Pause” button.

Toggle Auto-Pause in Workout settings on companion iPhone Watch app

This setting can be enabled for Running and Outdoor Cycling and is especially useful for preserving your best times when training in urban environments (for example, where you have to wait for traffic lights to change).

Quickly Pause a Workout with a Shortcut (or Disable It)

By default, you can press the Digital Crown and Side Button on your Apple Watch during a workout to pause. You should feel a haptic tap on your wrist to indicate that the workout has been paused. Then, press it again to resume.

It’s easy to trigger this shortcut accidentally, especially when using gloves or straps when weightlifting. This can result in you missing half of your workout, which is frustrating.

The good news is you can disable this shortcut. Head to the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap “Workout” and toggle “Press to Pause” off to disable the shortcut.

Disable Workout pause shortcut in Watch settings

In the future, you’ll have to pause your workout by swiping right on your watch and then tapping the “Pause” button. Interestingly, this is the same shortcut used to take a screenshot on the Apple Watch.

Use Water Lock to Prevent Accidental Taps

Water Lock isn’t just for swimming or taking a shower. The feature that locks your Apple Watch display can help prevent accidental taps in any kind of workout. It’s especially useful when running in the rain or pouring sweat in a humid gym.

You can access Water Lock by swiping right on the Workout display and tapping the blue “Lock” button. To exit Water Lock, press and hold the Digital Crown (watchOS 9 or later) or turn the Digital Crown in either direction (watchOS 8 or earlier).

Enable Water Lock during a workout

Prevent Your Watch From Bugging You About Ending a Workout

It can be easy to forget you have a workout running, which is where the “End Workout Reminder” feature comes in most handy. But some workout types may erroneously bug you about ending your workout too often.

For example, you may receive reminders when navigating particularly challenging terrain when hiking, where you have to go slow and watch every step.

To switch the feature off, launch the Watch app on your iPhone, tap “Workout,” and toggle “End Workout Reminder” off. You can also disable “Start Workout Reminder,” which may ask if you want to record a walk when your Apple Watch detects you’ve been moving at a brisk pace.


Set Up Custom Heart Rate Zones

Heart Rate Zones were added in watchOS 9 to help gauge exercise intensity by measuring how long you’ve spent in each zone. Your Apple Watch will automatically calculate these zones for you using personalized values like maximum heart rate and average resting heart rate (updated on the first of every month).

That means you don’t need to change any of this if you don’t want to. However, if you’d rather push yourself harder on your runs, you can adjust the zones manually using the Watch app under Workout > Heart Rate Zones.

Set up custom Heart Rate Zones under Watch app on iPhone

Most users should probably allow Apple to take care of this unless they have particular goals in mind.

Nominate a Workout Playlist

You can nominate a playlist to start playing whenever you launch a workout, assuming you aren’t already listening to music or other media. You can set the playlist by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and selecting a playlist by tapping “Workout Playlist.”

Set a Workout playlist under Watch app for iPhone

If you want to tie a playlist to a particular workout type, you’ll have to use the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.

Launch Shortcuts, then tap on the “Automation” tab, followed by the “+” icon. Next, tap on the “Create Personal Automation” button. Select “Apple Watch Workout” as the trigger, choose your “Workout Type,” and make sure “Starts” is enabled.

Set up trigger for Workout type automation

Add the “Play Music” action and select a playlist from your library. You could also choose a station from “Radio” or select a particular album.

Set action for Workout type automation

Finally, disable the “Ask Before Running” toggle, then hit “Done” to save your automation.

Hide Notifications and Switch Faces with Focus

It’s easy to use Focus Modes to hide notifications and other distractions while working out. There’s a ready-to-go Fitness Focus available under Settings > Focus on your iPhone.

Just tap “+” and choose “Fitness” from the list, followed by “Customize Focus” on the screen that appears. This will add a trigger to switch to your Fitness Focus whenever you start a workout on your watch.

Trigger Fitness focus when starting a Workout

You can whitelist certain apps or contacts so that you still receive notifications during a workout. Any notifications you receive will be delivered in a summary when you end your workout.

You can also use Focus to change your watch face whenever you start a workout. Head to Settings > Focus > Fitness on your iPhone and use the “Choose” button that appears in the “Customize Screens” section further down the page.

Customize Focus lock screen, Home screen, and Watch face

You can also choose a lock screen and home screen combination here, allowing you to change which widgets appear on your iPhone lock screen while working out.

Hide Workouts You Don’t Use (or Add New Ones)

Accidentally tapping on the wrong workout type can be annoying since you’ll need to end the workout and start another. Plus, recording the wrong type of workout can result in inaccurate tracking. There’s a simple solution: Remove the workout types you never use from your watch.

Open the Workout list and scroll the list of workout types until you find one you want to get rid of. Now swipe left on it and tap on the “X” button to remove it from the list.

Remove Workout type from Apple Watch Workout app

You can add it back or find other workout types using the “Add Workout” button at the bottom of the list. Many of these are simply labels for different kinds of workouts. Hiking, for example, is a label for Outdoor Walk, but it includes different workout views (including a graph for elevation gained) by default.

Even More Apple Watch Tips

Your Apple Watch can do much more than track your exercise. For example, it’s a helpful tool for hiking and great for tracking heart health.

Check out our Apple Watch SE (2022) review and our Apple Watch Series 8 review. Or, find out what’s so great about the Apple Watch Ultra.

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