The Suggested Workouts feature on Garmin watches rolled out last year on the Forerunner 745. My Forerunner 945 got it maybe a month or two later during a software update.
So what exactly is Suggested Workouts, and how is it able to make workout suggestions automatically?
Garmin’s Firstbeat Analytics engine (what is basically a very complex algorithm) considers the following metrics to give you a daily suggested run or bike workout.
- Training Status
- Training Load and Load Focus
- VO2 Max value
- Recovery Time
- Sleep data
- Profile of recently performed workouts
According to Garmin’s website, each workout is “designed to provide an appropriate level of challenge while satisfying a specific need or improving a particular aspect of performance to help you maintain or improve your current fitness level.”
The Suggested Workout function is available for these Garmin watches:
- Edge 1030 Plus
- fenix 6 series
- Forerunner 745
- Forerunner 945
- MARQ collection
- tactix Delta series
For your watch to display a suggested workout, you must first have the function switched on (here’s how to switch Suggested Workouts on) and have completed a week’s worth of activities with heart rate data for your watch to determine your Training Status.
Based on my use case, Garmin usually makes workout suggestions based on my estimated VO2Max. According to one of the MX Endurance coaches, VO2Max can be used as an indicator of cardiovascular fitness. However, if your fitness target isn’t cardiovascular fitness or increasing VO2Max, that’s where Suggested Workouts can be less useful.
Check out my vlog below, or scroll down for a quick wrap of my conclusions.
If you’re currently following a training plan downloaded via Garmin Connect or via a third-party coaching platform, those scheduled workouts uploaded onto your watch will take priority over the Daily Suggested Workouts. But if you’re a little old-school and don’t upload your training plan workouts onto your watch, or if you’re like me and you sign up for Zwift group rides and races on a whim, then you might find that the daily suggestion and your planned session may not coincide.
Additionally, the Daily Workout can tend to suggest Rest often. If you’re a triathlete you know training with fatigue is built into triathlon plans especially for long-distance.
I’ve found that Suggested Workouts is good for general fitness and so that you don’t have to think about what kind of session to do on any given day if you’re not on a formal training plan. However, for instance if you’re doing a focused low heart rate training block because you’re trying to improve your aerobic capacity at lower heart rates, the frequent suggestions you get of doing threshold work or VO2Max work is just going to derail that low heart rate training,
The watch is a tool; it doesn’t know the purpose or goal behind your training unlike a coach who knows exactly what you’re trying to do.
What I like about suggested workouts is it kind of removes the guess work from your training because you know how tired you are and what kind of session you’re probably good for. However I think the workouts are quite limited in variety, like I’ve only seen one kind of threshold session, base session, or sprint session. The structure is the same; what changes is duration of efforts based on the FirstBeat analytics.
Another quirk of Suggested Workouts is going by pace target can mean overshooting the heart rate training zone, while going by heart rate target can mean you miss the pace zone or during recovery you can’t even get your heart rate down to the target.
Overall my experience with Suggested Workouts is it can be a good tool for somebody who’s just basically trying to maintain fitness and using VO2Max as a measure of cardio fitness. If you need to achieve certain goals like train for a certain distance at a definite race date, then don’t rely on Suggested Workouts to give you a “training plan” because that’s not what it was meant for.
I really hope that the algorithm gets a little smarter or you’re able to tell the watch what kind of goal you’re trying to achieve, and the suggested workouts can adjust accordingly.