Garmin Vivosmart 3: Top tips and tricks

How to get more from Garmin's stress-busting tracker
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Garmin's Vivosmart 3 signals a new direction for the sporty wearable maker. Yes, this is a fitness tracker that will count your steps, log your sleep and tell you when you should be moving, but it also wants to help you feel more relaxed during the day and monitor your gym workouts.

We've already dished out our verdict on the Vivosmart 3 and since then we've been continuing to live with the tracker. It's meant we've been able to discover a few more things that this wearable is a capable of when it's trying to keep your mind and body in tip top shape.

Read this: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit

These are our top tips and tricks for using the Garmin Vivosmart 3 fitness tracker. Have we missed anything? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.

Deal with that brightness issue

One of our criticisms of the Vivosmart 3 was that, out of the box, the display is a little on the dim side. Especially when you compare it to something like the Fitbit Charge 2, which has a smaller screen, but one that's easy to view in most conditions. Thankfully, you can tinker with the brightness on the Vivosmart 3. Double tap to wake up the screen and press down to get into the menu screen. Swipe all the way down until you see the settings cog icon. You'll spot the lightbulb where you'll be able to set brightness to an auto mode or go through seven levels of brightness. A brighter screen will impact on battery performance, though, so that's something to be aware of.

Get to grips with strength training

Garmin Vivosmart 3: Top tips and tricks

This is one of the best additions to the Garmin wearable armoury of tricks, but it's initially a bit fiddly to get set up for the first time. The first thing we'd suggest is that it is best suited to bodyweight workouts and free weight exercises. If it wasn't already obvious, it's not going to measure your leg workouts.

To start a workout, press down on the screen to jump into the main menu and select the little man icon. Swipe down to the weightlifting dude and tap twice on the screen to start and end a workout. You need to perform at least six reps to activate rep counting. Before starting a workout, though, you should check out the alerts that can be set up for when you hit a certain heart rate, calorie burn figure or a timer to make sure you stay within that 30 minute slot you've put aside for your session.

Turn on auto sets

Staying on the subject of strength training, Garmin has recently introduced a new Auto Set feature, which is currently in beta. This will automatically start and stop exercise sets. You have to turn this feature on inside the Garmin Connect app, though – first head to the More tab and select your device, then select Activity Options and Strength Training. You should now be able to toggle the Auto Set on or off.

Switch up that view and change that face

If you sped quickly through the setup process, you might have missed the option to choose how data is displayed on the Vivosmart 3. Don't worry though, you can still adjust it from the Connect app. Head into the Device settings and locate the Orientation and Watch Face menu.

Yes, this is also the place where you can pick from eight different watch faces. With such limited space to play with, they're not all that creative, but you can pick between analogue and digital faces with additional widgets like heart rate or a battery status indicator also included.

Stay undisturbed

A useful feature when you need to focus on the job in hand, whether that's hammering out a run or sitting at your desk working. To turn on the do not disturb mode, press down on the screen, look for the crescent moon icon and tap to turn on.

Broadcast your heart (rate data)

Garmin Vivosmart 3: Top tips and tricks

Another handy tip if you happen to have multiple pieces of Garmin tech stashed away somewhere. The Vivosmart 3 supports the ability to broadcast HR data to its VIRB action camera or Edge cycling computer. To make it happen you need to press down on the screen to open the main menu and swipe down to the big heart icon. Here, you'll find the heart rate broadcasting option that you can switch on or off and it'll start displaying HR in real time. Once you've paired your cam or computer, you'll be able to view the data.

Ramp up the vibrations

If you're worried about missing a Move alert or getting a nudge notification, you can increase the strength of that vibrating buzz. Jump into the main menu screen and look for the settings cog and then the wrench icon to toggle between low, medium and high vibrating settings. Just like ramping up screen brightness though, the stronger the vibration intensity, the bigger impact it's going to have on the Vivosmart 3's battery life.

Take control of your VIRB action cam

This is normally a feature we'd associate with Garmin's top end sports watches, but you can also use the Vivosmart 3 paired to Garmin's cam. To do this, you should swipe through the screens to find the VIRB pairing icon on the wearable. Once a connection is established, you'll be able to activate a recording and take photos from your wrist. We'd suggest making sure the VIRB data widget is selected inside the Garmin Connect app, which we'll get onto next.

Streamline your data screens

Garmin Vivosmart 3: Top tips and tricks

It pays to spend some time in the settings over on the Garmin Connect, especially if you'd prefer to swipe through fewer screens and get to the data you really want. Head to the app on your phone, go to the More tab and select Garmin Devices. Here, you should be able to see your paired device and a host of settings, including Device Settings. Select Display Options, then Visible Widgets and you'll be able to toggle on/off widgets like the weather and intensity minutes if you want to keep tracking simple.

Improve walking and running accuracy

Staying inside the Connect app, you can create a custom stride length to ensure that step and running data is more reliable. Head to User Settings, then select Custom Stride Length. Here you'll be able to manually add in your data. The best way to come up with that data in the first place is to find somewhere where you know the precise distance to calculate the number of steps.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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