Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Tip and tricks for Garmin’s powerful training tool

If you own a Garmin GPS running watch, fitness tracker or even a golf watch, you've got a wearable on your wrist – but that's only half the story. You can't get the most out of that Forerunner, Fenix or Vivoactive smartwatch without a seriously good app, and that comes in the form of Garmin Connect.

Garmin Connect comes in two forms: a web service and a smartphone app, and each enables you to unlock a whole range of extra tools that can hone your training and help you become a better runner, cyclist, or just more healthy in general.

Garmin Connect is compatible with all Garmin sport devices and while it's by no means the perfect companion training tool, it offers a competitive range of features for planning, tracking and reviewing your workouts.

From preparing for a marathon and setting monthly goals, to joining team step challenges and beating other runners' best times around your local routes, these tools bring the hardware on your wrist to life, giving you more control over your training.

If you're a Garmin user, here are some simple things that can help you become a better runner with Garmin Connect.

Garmin Connect phone app

Use My Day

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Before Garmin revamped its Connect app, Snapshots was your first stop to get a sense of your day's activity. That's since been replaced with a much cleaner, less cluttered stream of tiles that's simply called 'My Day'.

Depending on the sensors included on your Garmin wearable, this will pull through all of the data from your day. This can include resting heart rate information, steps, intensity minutes, floors climbed and any logged workouts. All of the tiles are expandable as well, if you need to drill deeper into your data.

If there's too much data for your liking, you can simply swipe right on any tiles you're not that interested in to remove them. Scrolling further down will reveal My Day data from the previous day and the last seven days, giving you a nice look at your averages for the week.

Conquer sleep

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Every new Garmin has automatic sleep detection support, with the information collected when you go to sleep. You can set your normal bedtime hours in the app, and the graph will show you how much you slept inside or outside your preferred hours. To set your bedtime hours, tap the three blue lines icon in the top left corner of the app screen. Select Settings, then User Settings and look for your Sleep Settings. In a bid to match what Fitbit and others offer in this tracking domain, Garmin has introduced new sleep features that offers more data you can pore over after your bed time.

Read this: Testing out Garmin's new sleep features

Change Garmin Connect step goal

Garmin actually adapts your goals to your lifestyle, pushing you to take more steps and get more sleep. But sometimes the long process of finding your level, and the random goal numbers (current step goal: 8973) can be irritating, so you can always flick it back to manual.

Head to the Steps tile on the My Day screen, tap the steps number to access more detail and choose Edit. Toggle off Auto Goal and type in your desired number.

Use the calendar

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Garmin Connect collects so much data that it can be hard to find the exact session you're looking for. Just head to the Calendar tab to see collected data for the day. Connect splits up steps, sleep and heart rate data (if you have a compatible device), as well as runs, cycles and golf. You can tap a day and then the type of data you want to review.

Review your runs

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

For runners who want to explore their data in the app, it can be a little tough to find what you need. Any individual run is best found via the calendar (explained above). But if you want to get more of an overview about your performance, look for that drop-down menu in the top left corner, select Activity Stats and select Running.

Essential reading: Understanding your running watch stats

From there you'll be able to see your latest running activities, with those three rings displaying distance, calories and time. There are additional tabs to view extra details about pace, speed and timing. More advanced Garmins will also be able to display aspects like Training Effect, Running Dynamics and even temperature. Also, the ability to pair accessories like power meters including Garmin's own Running Dynamics Pod, means you'll be able to view those advanced metrics here too. If numbers don't do it for you, there are plenty of nice graphs breaking down your data there as well.

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Another great place to find running stats is in your profile, which is hidden. Head to Settings > Profile & Privacy and scroll to the bottom to see your actvity class designated by Garmin and, more interestingly, your average VO2 max score, which any of the latest Forerunners will provide.

Edit the data

Garmin makes your runs sound a bit boring, calling them things like Woodside Ward Run, which means nothing to anyone. You can edit any activity, however, by heading to the item in the Calendar, tapping the three dots at the top right and choosing Edit Activity. From here you can name the activity, add notes and even change the type of exercise, if it's been mislabelled.

How to upload Garmin data to Strava

Garmin Connect is a great service, especially for those who love different types of sports, but when it comes to viewing and sharing, you can't beat Strava. Luckily, you can absolutely output sessions from Garmin to Strava quickly and easily. We've broken it down in our guide to connecting Garmin to Strava, which will tell you how to do it from your phone.

Read this: Every Garmin metric explained

From a computer, go to and make sure the Garmin app is installed as well (Garmin Express for PC/Mac users). You can then choose Settings > Link Other Services, and choose Garmin from the list. Enter your details and as soon as you pair your Garmin watch with Connect, it will automatically send the workout to Strava.

How to connect Garmin data to Apple Health

If you're an iPhone owner and like the idea of pulling data from all of your wearables and health and fitness apps into one place, Apple Health will let you do that. The good news is that it plays nice with Garmin Connect letting you take a range of data (depending on the sensors your Garmin has) and this includes steps, heart rate, intensity minutes, resting heart rate and more. To connect Garmin Connect to Apple Health you need to do the following:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone
  • Tap Sources at the bottom of the screen to look for supported platforms
  • Tap Connect
  • From here you'll be able to select what data you do and don't want to share to Apple Health

Get a better grip on your performances

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

If you're getting more serious about your running and you have a top end Garmin wearable that offers a richer pool of data to track, there is a place to review that information. Performance Stats, found inside the main drop-down menu, reveals hardcore running metrics like lactate threshold as well as displaying Garmin's new Training Effect and Status insights. These are all available to view on the devices themselves, but viewing inside the app allows you to spot trends and see where data has spiked or dipped over a period of time.

Work on your competitive edge

Garmin has learned from the success of Strava, which lets you turn any stretch of road into a race.

You can use Connect on the web to create segments – essentially courses of any distance – run them and set a fastest time. Other Garmin users can then run the same stretch of park or pavement and attempt to beat your time. You can do the same, finding segments to race from all the others that have already been created.

The Garmin Connect Mobile app takes this one step further, piggy-backing your GPS location to enable you to scan a map and then take on the segments nearest to where you are.

It's a great way to add a little extra competition to a training run and turns your runs into a game.

Tweak your heart rate zones

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

The more accurate your heart rate information, the more effective you can make your training sessions. The difference between an endurance building run and aerobic capacity training can be as little as two beats per minute, so if you want to get the right training effect from every session, it's smart to set you heart rate zones.

Essential reading: How to use your watch to be a better, faster runner

Customising your heart rate zones is simple. On Garmin Connect go to Garmin Devices from the drop-down menu, find your paired device and look for User Settings. From here you can configure heart rate zones (if you know them) rather than relying on the default settings. You can choose either BPM or %max at the top of each column, and then enter the lowest value for each field.

Once you've done that your Garmin devices will give you readouts that are tailored perfectly to you. Unfortunately most Garmin watches don't automatically update these stats based on your last run so it's worth doing that yourself as often as possible to keep your training sessions producing the right effect.

Join a running group via Connect

The Garmin Connect smartphone app works mainly as a tool for reviewing your activity, but it also lets you search for groups to join. The groups come in various flavours, from running clubs to distance challenges all over the world.

Once you're in a group you can see how other members are tracking towards their goals, whether that's miles run, calories burned or total steps taken. The info comes in the form of a league table for an added dose of motivating competition.

Get coached by a pro

A recently new addition to the Connect platform is Garmin Coach. It's designed for beginner and intermediate runners looking to run a 5K. Currently longer distances are not supported. Picking from three coaches, you'll be provided with training programs that adapt based on your goals and progress. Plans can also be synced and followed on compatible Garmin watches (Vívoactive 3, Vívoactive 3 Music, Forerunner 645, Forerunner 645 Music and Forerunner 935).

Upgrade your Garmin with Connect IQ

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Garmin Connect IQ is Garmin's app store that allows developers to create custom apps, watch faces and data fields to bring even more capability to a selection of IQ compatible Garmin devices, like the Forerunner 935 and the Fenix 5 series.

Read this: Best Garmin Connect IQ apps to download

The Connect IQ app store features a host of Garmin-made and developer-uploaded apps offering things like smarter stopwatches and watch face layouts that display more run stats, along with resting heart rate trackers and pace alerts.

Top five Garmin Connect IQ apps to download first

Know when it's time to change gear

Gear tracker lets you keep tabs on the wear and tear of your running shoes over time. You can track how many miles you've run in those nice new Asics and assign a total distance that'll flag up when it's time to change your shoes. Cyclists can do the same for bikes and get a nudge when it's time to stick the wheels in for a service.

Get social

It might not be the first place you think of going to get moral support but, just like Nike+ Running and apps like Endomondo and Strava, Garmin Connect is actually a seriously social beast. You can connect with other runners, join challenges and see how people in your network are getting on with their training.

For added motivation, add a few Garmin users who are training for the same goal as you and you'll be able to see their weekly progress versus your own from your Connections tab.

Sharing your workouts is a simple way to keep people committed to training plans longer, and having moral support from people going through the same pain is really powerful.

And when you're done you can upload your stats and have them super-imposed onto a picture of your run – perfect for your social networks.

Design your own workouts

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Taking control of your own training sessions can be a powerful motivator and with Garmin Connect you can create workouts tailored specifically to you and your goals without too much fuss.

With the workout builder tool you can combine different sections of any workout (warm up, run recover, rest and cool down) with time, distance, heart rate and calories plus also intensity levels based on heart rate, pace, speed and even cadence.

You can add as many intervals as you like and there's a handy Add a Repeat function that means you can reduce the faff when creating multiple sets. Once you've built your own workout you can send this to your chosen device and it'll be waiting for you when it's next time to work out.

Bring training to life with Live Track

With Live Track, friends, family, running buddies and even your coach can see exactly where you are (and how you're doing) during a run. A bit like the live trackers you see at a lot of organised marathons, Connect Live Track will plot your location on a map and let those you've decided to share this with see how your race is going.

To use LiveTrack you'll need to have your phone with you. Simply go into Live Track in the Garmin Connect app, choose how you'd like to share the link to your session and give permission to track your mobile device for this workout.

Those you invite via email, Facebook or Twitter will receive a link to a webpage that includes the position of your phone. They'll also be able to track your time elapsed, distance, speed and elevation in real time. And if you have any ANT+ sensors, they also can see that data, such as heart rate or cadence.

Get some insights

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

This is one of the latest features added to Connect that is Garmin's way of helping you make better sense of your data. Here you can see how your running (and other logged activities) compare to other Garmin users. It will also start to indicate patterns in your behaviour, pinpointing when you log more steps and when you sleep more, and it can even educate you on the benefits of getting more sleep. Locating these insights is best done from the drop-down menu tucked into the top left corner of the main app screen.

Add food intake

What you do on the roads and the running track is important, but if you're eating a bad diet you're limiting your running prowess. Getting in great shape is as much about what you cook in the kitchen as what you smash out in the gym. We're not just talking about cutting down on snacks either; making sure you're giving your body the right fuel to power your runs and speed your recovery is essential.

Connect Garmin Connect to MyFitnessPal

Garmin Connect lets you hook up food-tracking app MyFitnessPal and monitor your food intake alongside your running stats. This makes it much easier to spot how what you eat might be affecting how you feel on your runs; like feeling sluggish on a morning run after a big bowl of pasta the night before, or running out of steam on a lunchtime run because you skipped breakfast. You can then adapt your diet to something that suits you. Heres a step-by-step guide on how to get the Connect phone app and MyFitnessPal to play nice.

  1. Open the Garmin Connect Mobile app, then head into the app menu
  2. Select More and tap Settings then 3rd Party Apps
  3. Select MyFitnessPal and select Get Started and then you'll see the option to Link Accounts.
  4. Log in to your MyFitnessPal account to create the link and you're good to go.

Garmin Connect Online

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

The Android/iOS app is a great portal into your workouts and daily data, but it's just a drop in the ocean of what Garmin Connect is capable of. Head over to and log in for even more tools. Read on to see what's possible.

Build a plan

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Whether your goal is to get in shape, run a marathon or set a PB in your next triathlon, Garmin Connect has an off-the-shelf training plan to guide you.

Each plan features tested workouts and expert advice from the top coaches; with options that take into account target times, how many days a week you're able to train and how long you've got to achieve your goal.

Essential reading: The lowdown on running with power

If your Garmin watch has heart rate smarts, we recommend choosing a plan that uses heart rate training. It's a great way to train in a way that's more tailored to you even though you're working with a one-size-fits-all training plan.

When you find a plan that fits, it's simple to add it to your Garmin Connect calendar and then send the workouts to your compatible Garmin device and use it as your virtual coach.

If you're confident enough to build your own training plan then it's fairly simple. You just create your own workouts and then you can drop them into the calendar from your dashboard with a couple of clicks. Warning: expect to put in a good couple of hours to build your first marathon plan.

Race and benchmark yourself

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Repeating the exact same mile, 5km or 10km course once a month is a great way to check your progress. With Garmin Connect you can add favourite courses to the web tools and the app and do direct comparisons of all the stats captured.

Try to make sure you use a course covering the same distance where it's easy to recreate the same conditions (so avoid roads where you might have to stop at crossings or traffic lights).

What you'll hopefully find is that the run is getting easier, you're getting faster and you're running with better form.

Find new routes to run

Anyone who's ever trained for a marathon will tell you that one of the toughest things is finding a way to keep runs fresh, particularly when you can be putting in over 50 miles per week. Running in a new place is one way to ward off monotony but finding good routes isn't always easy.

Garmin Connect has a rather handy remedy in the form of a heat map feature that lets you see the most popular running routes in your area, based on how many other Garmin users have been running that path. If other runners are voting with their feet it's a sure-fire sign of a good place to run, taking some of the gamble out of venturing into the unknown.

Create your own routes

Garmin Connect: The ultimate guide

Now you can do this from the smartphone app, but we think it's a little easier to get to grips with using the web version of Connect. As a runner, covering longer distances comes with more problems than just whether your endurance is up to it. For a start turning your usual 10km loop into a 12 mile training run means mapping out a new path. Granted it's fun to lace up and see where the wind carries you but if you want to be sure you're hitting the distance then the Garmin Courses feature is a big help. The tool lets you create a run by overlaying your route onto Google Maps.

As as you add your lefts and rights and pick your roads and paths, you not only get details of distance but you also get things like predicted time at a pace of your choice, an elevation map and some quick edit tools like Out and Back that auto fills your return journey, or Loop Run which creates a quick circuit.

If you want to download runs or hikes from the internet, that's no problem either. First you will need to download Garmin Basecamp from the Garmin website. Import a downloaded GPX or TCX file and export it directly to your device. It will only work on top-end Fenix, Forerunner 630, 935 and 725XT devices though.

Understand your heart rate stats

Knowing that your heart rate is currently at 167 while you're busting around your local park is only really useful if you know what that means for you in the context of that run and as part of your overall training plan. Getting stuck into Garmin Connect's post-run stats is a brilliant way to start to learn how your body responds to certain situations like running up hills, or hitting the roads the day after a long or particularly intense run.

Crucially, you can also start to see when you're making progress. At the start of your training your BPM might soar when you hit a certain pace or a certain distance but as your fitness improves you should see that you can hit the same levels while maintaining a much lower heart rate.

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  • DomHoran·

    All very good unless you are a Windows phone user :o(

  • kkkk·

    I wanted a review not a product description written by a pr guru...

    • j.stables·

      We actually have a review in the pipeline. This is just a guide to help Garmin users use the software to its full potential. That's why it's called "Guide to Garmin Connect" not "Garmin Connect review".

  • guikitetri·

    Hi there.  I was wondering if the Fenix3 supports segments. I've been running on a course that has a segment, but my time splits are not being uploaded to the leaderboard.  

  • sitav·

    Impressive early morning run; 6 miles in 45mins and heart rate stays below 110!!! I've got a lot of work to do!

  • Pippin65·

    thanks for the article

  • Batdan·

    I was wondering if there are any sites out there that enable you to download training Schedules for Garmin Connect that are like the old Forerunner Schedules that were on Runners World as they were simple to use and the training was based solely on running  for example pyramids,fartlek, recovery runs, hill training, 10 x 200m fast ect??? 

  • Paulweir·

    I've noticed that segments have not been working for a fair while, have repeatedly reported rhe issue and the reply I get is 

    "We know about this issue and we are working in solving it"

  • Krisu·

    hi, does Garmin connect and the connect scale sync with any other smart watches besides Garmin...I'm thinking Pebble or fitbit.

  • G-T·

    Really useful information. Thank you very much. I've used Connect with my Vivosmart  but not used it cleverly and your guidance above will certainly help me rectify that. Can't uunderstand why the negative comments above. 

  • Juliet·

    Many thanks for the article. I've just upgraded to a 235 and this will really help me get the most out of it. I agree with G-T and don't understand the negative comments? It' does exactly what it says on the tin (and does it well!)

  • carloslesmes3·

    When you wear an activity tracker like Vivosmart hr you would like to have files with data to do real statistical analyses. The data of steps, sleep times, and so are really in a not adequate format. The histograms of the application are actually very poor. I would like to cross variables and look for tendencies with the data the band record. It's a waste of information. Thanks. 

  • aussanee·


    Can I add Golf app to my Garmin 235 watch

    like it is on vivoactive hr.

    Thank you,

  • Bjorn·

    The app is great. But for running I like to have the choice to select speed in stead of pace. Pace means zipp to me. And to many others. I'm used to speed (km/h) which I have selected on my Fenix3. This request has been filed numerous times via the forum but nothing has changed yet. So again. Could you please add this feature in your app? Shouldn't be to hard for a programmer. It would make the app top of the line.

  • lyndielou52·

    i am tracking my steps on my new vivoactive garmin watch.the screen is telling me info but i want to get on to watch .how do i do this.

  • vincentchen·

    I'm cracking my head trying to pair the garmin vivoactive HR heart rate with Run Keeper and Strava.  having the same issue with my bike computer too.  The VAHR syncs perfectly with Garmin Connect and all these apps Garmin connect, Runkeeper and Strava are alled installed on the same iPhone.  I don't have this issue previously with my Mio Fuse.  I tried broadcasting the HR feature and that didn't seem to work either.

    Any ideas anyone?

  • BostonRunner·

    Question: is it possible to share workouts with other users? I create interval workouts on my Garmin Connect account and sync them to my 220. I would love to be able to share these workouts with my running partners so that they can also sync the workout to their devices.

    Is that possible? It seems like it should be an obvious feature, but I can't figure out how to make it happen.

  • Dano·

    after downloading run data from vivo active, the map of the run shows temp and a weather icon, what is the number to the right indicate?

    • MyFateIsKind·

      Did you ever figure this out? I have no idea!!

      • bomberH18·

        Yep, I just worked this out by looking at the full Garmin Connect website. This icon indicates the wind direction and speed. I'm in Australia, so wind direction is shown in km/h and the little triangle indicates the direction (i.e. if it's right at the bottom of the circle, with a 5 in it, it means there was a 5km/h wind from a southerly direction).

  • Stefaniew·

    garmin livetrack doesn't work

  • CatrinaL·

    How do you start a step group with your friends?

  • CatrinaL·

    how to you build a group?

  • Dick·

    we have a vivofit2 and a vivosmarthr on two different IOS devices but the data gets mixed up on the two devices. We each have a connect on each device

  • VCW·

    Is there a way to share workouts with others so only one person has to do the data entry? thank you

  • Peebs92·


    Is there a way to set your garmin forerunner 235 into training zones? I used to have a tomtom spark watch and I could set it to keep me within a certain pace or heart rate.



    • iDuncan·

      I've got the forerunner 225, the way I do this is to setup a workout from Garmin Connect on the web and then send it to my device. I don't think you can do it directly on the watch or if you can I haven't noticed it.

  • saairam·

    How/where do you view your heart rate as a graph on the garmin connect app. I want to be able to see how it ranges throughout the day, not just the max and min. 

    Also it lets me see only over 7 days and 1 month etc. 

    I want to see changes within the day, by mins/hours. Does it allow that?

  • TressaW·

    Can the Vivofit 3 (or other Garmin trackers) be set up to track dance activity? 

  • Joecoolclassic·

    i have seperate shoes for running.  How can i select the shoes i am running in before i run to track my shoes correctly?

    • iDuncan·

      You can select your shoes from Garmin Connect once you've uploaded your run. If you're in the app, select your run, click the dots up the top right and choose Add/Remove Gear.

      I don't think you can do it before.

  • backtobasics·

    Sadly, the Garmin software dumbs it all down and goes for style over substance.  The former Training Centre is superior in its simplicity and usability.  To not include SPEED ZONES on the Connect app is a major flaw and is why I stick with the superior Forerunner 305; there is no need to upgrade and you can't do as much.  Yes you can chat to people doing runs across the world and use pointless apps like Strava, but you can't really adjust your training programme to the detail you need- you can with Training Centre.

  • Toryben·

    Hi - I would like to set a target on my Garmin Forerunner 230 to do a 3 mile run in 30 min (so slow of me!).  Can you please advise how I can use Garmin Connect to set up?  The customise workout section only lets me set up either distance or time and measure them by pace etc, not directly together.


    • iDuncan·

      Hi Toryben,

      You will need to work out your pace. 3 miles in 30min is the same pace as 6 miles in an hour so you would need to set a workout to run at a pace of 6 miles an hour for 30mins.

  • Deon·

    help, new 230 does not synch with the app after three days. Bluetooth on yet app informs that " your watch is busy"

  • Edmc·

    I would like to add cycling to the activity data also weight lifting. Right now I only have run,walk,cardio,and other.

  • Edmc·

    I would like to add cycling and weight lifting to the activity data. All that I have now for choices are run,walk,cardio and other. 

  • Allysone·

    hi, I've just bought the vivosmart hr + and am a bit disappointed as I don't seem to be able to put my workouts on my watch.  I bought the watch specifically for this reason to help with intervals and specific training plans.  Do you have any advice for me on this subject.  I was led to believe the watch I bought was the latest and best, but if I can't download my workouts it really doesn't serve much more purpose than my smartphone app I was already using.

  • rickr·

    Has any one noticed that the share option is missing on the activity page?  I use to be able to send an activity via email, but I don't see the "Share" option.

  • CharlotteWebb·

    this is great! as I have read in the Consumer Health Digest that running is not as easy as going out and just doing runs, I mean this could really help me set my phase as well as track my mileage 

  • RobertSimpson·

    Garmin is the best device for travelers, early morning birds.

    BTW thanks for sharing more detailed information about the Garmin. One thing which i like most about Garmin is their support. Garmin support is fabulous they provide satisfactory solutions for your issues. 

  • garminscheisse·

    I don't like Garmin Connect. Period.

    • garminscheisse·

      What's more, the displays of Garmin devices are way to difficult to read in low light.