Cycling Science

By monitoring key aspects of your cycling and fitness progress, you get a better look at your current performance level and what you need to do to keep up the good work or continue improving. Select Garmin devices collect data while you ride in order to bring you these cycling metrics and physiological measurements. It’s worth noting that some of these metrics need additional sensors such as power and heart rate. If your device is showing you stats, but you want to know more about what they mean, then you’ve come to the right place. What can you do with this calculated information? That’s up to you, but we’ve got some suggestions.

Physiological Measurements

By analyzing the data measured by compatible Garmin devices, we can provide you with detailed metrics that show how your body is responding to training and even to the environment.

Physiological Measurements

Training Status

Training status screen Training status screen

Training status gives you an overview of your longer-term training habits. This provides you with powerful insight into how your training is really going.

Provided by Firstbeat, the calculation utilizes several dimensions of your personal physiology. It considers changes in fitness level (your VO2 max), your current acute (7-day) training load and any change in training load, giving you guidance to help you improve your training decisions.

To explain in simple terms, when you stop training, your fitness level will decrease, but depending on your previous training load, a break from normal training routines may result in an increase in fitness level. Similarly, it’s expected that regular hard training will improve our fitness levels, but watch out — push too hard too often, and your fitness level will start to decrease due to the overtraining phenomenon.

As an example of how this works, imagine you’ve been training consistently for a number of weeks, and your fitness with normal, small day-to-day ups and downs is nevertheless increasing. This trend is automatically identified, and your current training will be classified as “productive.” Similarly, you could find yourself training very hard but notice your fitness starting a pattern of decline. In this situation, your training would be identified as “overreaching,” and additional recovery will be recommended.

The recognized training states are below.

Peaking – You are in ideal race condition. Your recently reduced training load is allowing your body to recover and fully compensate for earlier training. This peak state can only be maintained for a short time.

Productive – Keep up the good work. Your training load is moving your fitness in the right direction. Be sure to plan recovery periods into your training to maintain your fitness level.

Maintaining – Your current training load is enough to maintain your fitness level. To see improvement, try adding more variety to your workouts or increasing your training volume.

Recovery – Your lighter training load is allowing your body to recover, which is essential during extended periods of hard training. You can return to a higher training load when you feel ready.

Unproductive – Your training load is at a good level, but your fitness is decreasing. Your body may be struggling to recover, so pay close attention to your overall health, including stress, nutrition and rest.

Detraining – You’ve been training much less than usual for a week or more, and it’s affecting your fitness. Try increasing your training load to see improvement.

Overreaching – Your training load is very high and has become counterproductive. Your body needs a rest. Give yourself time to recover by adding lighter training to your schedule.

No Status – You typically need a week or 2 of training history — including recent activities with VO2 max results — before we can determine your training status.

VO2 Max

Training status screen

VO2 max is the defining measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and aerobic performance capacity. The ability to see your current fitness level and track changes over time is a game-changer. It can help you set appropriate goals, evaluate progress and determine the effectiveness of your training. It can also provide the motivation you need to keep going and to reach your goals.

The Firstbeat analytics engine embedded in your Garmin cycling computer or watch reliably estimates your VO2 max by identifying, analyzing and interpreting meaningful performance data during your ride. The power you are generating is placed into the context of how hard your body is working to produce your performance. Mostly, the relationship between internal and external workloads (intensity of effort versus watts recorded by your power meter) is linear and stable. To generate more power, your body needs to work harder.

Smart analytics capable of recognizing good data ensure that only the most meaningful parts of your performance are used to evaluate your fitness level. In practical terms, this means you don’t need to worry about speeding up, slowing down, climbs, descents or stopping at intersections. You just warm up, cool down and ride as you normally would, without the need for any special fitness testing protocols.

Measured in terms of VO2 max, your fitness level combined with insight from your activity history provide valuable context for personalizing training effect feedback, estimating recovery time, defining the optimal range for your weekly training load and determining your current training status.

There are certain environments, however, in which your body must work harder than normal to keep up and maintain the same power output. Good examples are rides performed in hot and humid conditions or at high altitudes. A number of recent Garmin devices are capable of automatically recognizing one or more of these situations and understanding how your performance data is being affected as a result.

In addition to letting you see how well your body is adjusting to the environment, recognizing and accounting for the influence environment has on your performance improves the reliability of other metrics. This means more meaningful feedback in a growing number of tough environments.

For example, this includes the feedback you get from the training status data screen, which interprets changes in your VO2 max in light of your current training load and activity history. Left unaccounted for, the effects of uneven terrain or a measurable decrease in aerobic performance from altitude or a hotter-than-normal environment could mistakenly identify your training status as unproductive or overreaching.

How long does it take to acclimate to heat and humidity?

The speed at which your body acclimates to elevated temperatures depends on several factors.

One of the most significant factors is the difference between the conditions you are acclimating to and your normal environment. The bigger the change, the longer it takes to adapt.

Another factor is the frequency and duration of your workouts and time spent outdoors in the new environment. The acclimation processes are triggered by your direct exposure to the environment.

Evidence shows that prolonged daily outdoor exposures to challenging climates can produce the necessary adaptations in as little as 1 to 2 weeks. An athlete with a higher VO2 max typically adapts to challenging climates at a much faster rate, sometimes decreasing the acclimation period by as much as half.

Physiological Adaptations That Result From Acclimation

  • Improved sweating
  • Improved skin blood flow responses
  • Improved cardiovascular stability (ability to sustain blood pressure and cardiac output)
  • Better fluid-electrolyte balance
  • Lower metabolic rate

Recovery Time

Recovery time screen

Giving your body a chance to recover properly ensures you gain the maximum training benefit from your efforts. It also reduces injury risk and helps avoid the lasting consequences of overtraining syndrome.

Recovery time is a countdown timer that reveals when you can expect to be fully recovered and ready to benefit from a substantial challenge. This countdown timer is updated at the end of each activity. The amount of time added to your recovery timer is determined through analysis of the duration and intensity of your recorded activity interpreted in light of your current fitness level and activity history.

Any time remaining on your countdown timer at the start of a new activity is also taken into consideration.

For the most part, similar performances require similar amounts of recovery time, but sometimes it takes longer than normal to bounce back. An unusually hard workout or race performance is a good example. Another is when there is a sudden increase in your 7-day training load compared to normal. The shock of rapidly increasing your training load in a short period of time can produce residual fatigue, simultaneously increasing injury risks and the length of time it takes to bounce back.

A common misconception about recovery time is that it recommends complete rest until it has counted down to zero. Instead, recovery time is meant to indicate the time until you can expect to be sufficiently recovered for a hard workout. Many times, an easy ride or run is OK — even beneficial — when your recovery time still shows considerable time remaining until complete recovery.

The amount of recovery time normally prescribed after a workout is now being adjusted based on new considerations from training effect and training load data.

Training Load

Training load screen Training load screen

Understanding Training Load On Your Garmin Device

Training load is an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) based metric designed to help you understand the physiological impact and resulting recovery demands of your activities. Compatible Garmin devices provide views of your training load on a per-activity basis and as the combined impact of recent activities. This later perspective is the key to effective training strategies.

This is achieved by using a weighted moving average designed to reflect the strain placed on your body on a weekly basis. Record a new activity, and the resulting load is added in full to your current acute load. The influence of that activity then gradually expires during the next 10 days, and the combined total load is normalized to reflect a 7-day window.

Older devices utilized a 7-day load perspective, which simply combined impact of all activities recorded in the past 7 days.

EPOC-Based Training Load

EPOC allows us to measure the impact of physical activity on your body in terms of the amount of restorative and adaptive work your body needs to perform after an activity. This is the work your body does to restore the dynamic equilibrium known as homeostasis.

Oxygen consumed is an indirect indicator of the amount of energy your body uses to put itself back together and better prepare you for the next challenge. Measuring the amount of extra oxygen your body uses after a workout compared to normal is how physiologists and sports scientists get a clear picture of an activity’s impact.

The Firstbeat Analytics engine embedded in your Garmin watch capably predicts the accumulation of EPOC in real time by analyzing heartbeat data and applying advanced mathematical modeling and machine learning.

Training Load Focus

Training load focus screen

During your activity with compatible devices, your performance is analyzed in real time to reveal the physiological impact of your activity and to understand the underlying efforts that produce it. This is achieved through understanding how various intensities and changes in intensity support and trigger adaptations in your body.

Anaerobic training load (purple): The number on the top row and accompanying colored bar show how much of your training load during the past 4 weeks was the result of anaerobic efforts. The key to increasing your anaerobic training load is doing activities that get your heart rate up quickly. These are typically high-intensity bursts of effort that are sustained for anywhere from several seconds to a couple of minutes at a time, mixed with low- to moderate-intensity recovery intervals during which your heart rate declines. Incorporating HIIT sessions into your program is a good way to make sure you get enough of your training load from anaerobic efforts.

  • Key example: Interval workouts

High aerobic training load (orange): The number on the middle row and accompanying colored bar reveal how much of your training load of the past 4 weeks was the result of sustained moderately high- to high-intensity activity. This is the strain that accumulates during efforts where your heart rate was significantly elevated and you maintained that high level of intensity for a few minutes up to — in some cases — more than 30 minutes.

  • Key example: Tempo rides

Low aerobic training load (light blue): The bottom number and accompanying colored bar shows how much of your training load during the past 4 weeks was produced during sustained low-intensity efforts. This is the portion of your training load that accumulates during “conversational pace” efforts, meaning that you are working but still able to talk and maintain a conversation.

  • Key example: Long rides

Making the Most of Training Load Focus

The training load focus data screen provides you not only with a graphical depiction of how your training load is distributed among the three major intensity categories but with qualitative feedback as well.

  • Shortage: You are lacking exercise in a training intensity category.
  • Balanced: Your training is well distributed across different levels of intensity.
  • Focus: Your training variety is reasonably well structured but is particularly focused in one area.

In addition to the above three categories of load focus feedback, it is also possible to get feedback that your overall training load is too low (“Below Targets”) or too high (“Over Targets”).

The work you do to achieve a balanced training load is all about the fundamentals. It’s about laying a strong foundation upon which you can build. With a balanced foundation in place, you gain the confidence you need to focus on the aspects of preparation that will give you the edge you need to succeed in your challenge of choice.

Balance is needed for a strong foundation

When your training load is both optimal and balanced, it means you are active enough to support and gradually improve your fitness level, and the composition of your activities is diverse enough to provide a solid foundation for future improvement. It means your activities include enough time spent at high- and low-intensity aerobic efforts along with dynamic efforts to help enhance your explosive performance capabilities.

Focus for winning

Every athlete knows that preparation is the key to success, and to be successful you must recognize and prepare for the unique demands of the challenge you face. With a balanced foundation in place, you can start to focus and guide the composition of your training load toward a performance profile that matches your ambition or phase of your periodization schedule.

Confirming that your training is properly targeted through training load focus gives you confidence that you are on the right track. When understood and utilized properly, this data can be transformed into your personal road map for achieving your goals and performing at a high level in a wide variety of pursuits. You can easily see when your training activities are lacking in one or more areas, and once you have a strong foundation in place, you are able to shoot for the stars by ensuring the composition of your training activities match up with the specific real-world demands of the challenge you want to tackle.

Training load: training effect label of primary benefit

In newer compatible products, you can get an idea of how your ride or run affects your training load focus as soon as you save your activity. A new color-coded label added to the training effect summary screen describes the primary benefit of what you have just done and where you can mostly expect it to contribute.

Note that the background of these labels are color-coded (purple, orange and light blue) to match the anaerobic, high aerobic and low aerobic bars used for your training load focus. When a recorded activity has no meaningful impact in one of the intensity categories or it cannot be identified, the label background is simply gray, and no descriptive text is displayed.

Daily Suggested Workouts Feature

Suggested workouts screen

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and when it comes to achieving your big-picture fitness and performance goals, what you do today matters. The Daily Suggested Workouts feature on select Garmin GPS watches and cycling computers combines the latest sports science with fitness, activity and lifestyle data captured by your device to answer this important question: What should I do today?

The broad goal of these suggested workouts is to help you improve your fitness level (VO2 max), which translates into aerobic performance capacity. Regularly performing suggested workouts will help you achieve an optimal training load with varied efforts ideally balanced for your development.

Activities covered include running and cycling training. Keep in mind that cycling workouts are power-based and require a compatible power meter.

Each workout suggested is designed to provide an appropriate level of challenge while satisfying a specific need or improving a particular aspect of performance. Your current training load, load focus, recovery time, sleep data and the profile of recently performed workouts all factor into your workout suggestions.

Some days your suggested workout will focus on building your endurance base or facilitating recovery. Other days will focus on developing maximum aerobic performance capacity, your ability to tolerate high-intensity efforts, perform and repeat dynamic intervals, or speed. Real-time guidance available during your activity tells you when to step up the intensity and when to take your foot off the gas. This can be especially helpful during lower-intensity activities where it can be easy to overshoot your mark.

Like any good workout program, consistency and variety are vital to your success. These elements are built into the workout suggestion system. Performing suggested workouts regularly ensures your progress. With time, you’ll notice a mixture of lighter training weeks, harder training weeks and some in between. These patterns conform to well-established training periodization methods employed by top sports scientists and exercise physiologists.

If you follow a dedicated training plan with scheduled workouts aimed at a specific event or discipline — either from Garmin Connect or a third party — your training plan workouts will take priority over the Daily Suggested Workouts. You will still be able to locate the suggested workout in the workouts menu, but your regular workout prompts will be for your training plan.

Training Effect

Because of how our bodies work, the type of training you do determines the type of results you can expect and the types of performances you’ll be well prepared for in the future.

Training effect is the metric that gives you a sneak peek at how each training session is expected to impact your future fitness levels. One of the most common uses of training effect is to coordinate and balance workouts that maintain and improve your current fitness level. Your compatible Edge displays the following two types of training effect measures.

Aerobic Training Effect

Training effect screen

This measures the aerobic benefit of exercise, which should correlate with the fitness improvement you expect to get from it.

Aerobic training:

  • Develops aerobic energy production
  • Utilizes fat for energy
  • Provides endurance and stamina
  • Offers prolonged performance capacity

Anaerobic Training Effect

Anaerobic training effect screen

Your body’s most efficient method of transforming fuel into energy requires oxygen, but sometimes your demand for energy exceeds the rate at which enough oxygen is immediately available. Luckily, your body has a backup process ready and waiting. While not nearly as efficient, the anaerobic energy process can jump into action and keep you going. The downside is that it becomes depleted quickly.

Anaerobic training:

  • Develops anaerobic energy production
  • Includes improved sprinting abilities
  • Provides fatigue resistance
  • Offers maximal performance capacity

Both aerobic and anaerobic training effects are mapped on a 0–5 scale that accounts for your fitness level and training habits.

0 – None, 1 – Minor, 2 – Maintaining, 3 – Improving, 4 – Highly Improving, 5 – Overreaching.

Performance Condition

Performance condition screen
Performance condition screen

For a real-time assessment of your current ability to perform, look at your performance condition. During the first 6 to 20 minutes of your ride, this metric analyzes power, heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV). The resulting number is a real-time assessment of the deviation from your baseline VO2 max, with each point on the scale representing about 1% of your VO2 max. The higher the number, the better you can expect to perform. Keep in mind that your results may vary a bit during your first few rides with a new device, since it’s still learning your fitness level. This will stabilize, and checking your performance condition will become a reliable day-to-day indicator of your capability.

In addition to the alert during the first part of your ride, you can add performance condition as a data field to your training screens — and keep an eye on it as your ride unfolds. The value may move around slightly as you encounter hills or strong winds, but it will trend down once you have been going hard for a while and the ride starts to take a toll on you. This is an objective way to keep an eye on how your ability to perform is or isn’t declining as you go, because it’s telling you if your body is working harder than normal to ride at your current power output. So, performance condition can give you a bit of an early warning before you “bonk.”

HRV Stress Test

HRV Stress Test screen

If you’re wondering whether your body is ready for a hard ride or in need of a lighter effort, it might be time to check your stress score. When you’re fresh and rested inside and out, you’re better able to absorb the training effect from a tough ride. However, the same hard ride can be counterproductive if you’re tired or on the verge of overtraining. Your stress score is calculated during a 3-minute test during which your heart rate variability (HRV) is analyzed. The resulting stress score is displayed as a number from 0 to 100, with a lower number indicating a lower stress state. This measurement helps you assess what level of activity your body is ready for. More accurate results are gathered by taking the test at the same time and under the same conditions every day (recommended prior to the ride, not after). This also helps you get a feel for your own day-to-day and week-to-week variations.

You are required to stand to take the HRV stress test, because that makes the test more sensitive to low and medium levels of stress. When you are lying down, moderate levels of stress may not be revealed, but standing puts a slight load on your cardiovascular system. That load causes a meaningful drop in HRV when you have a moderate amount of stress compared to very low stress.

ClimbPro Ascent Planner

ClimbPro screen

The ClimbPro ascent planner is designed to help a rider manage effort during a ride in the following ways:

  • It shows upcoming climbs for a course, at what distances they occur, and their lengths and gradients. This information is accessible in the course preview and is also available as a dedicated page within the timer loop during the activity.
ClimbPro screen
  • For Edge 540, Edge 840 or Edge 1040 cycling computer users, ClimbPro is now available on every ride with no course necessary. You can find nearby climbs on your Edge device by using the climb explore widget or by panning on the map. You’ll be able to view the overall category for each climb along with a gradient profile.

Panning the map:

ClimbPro screen ClimbPro screen

Climb explore widget:

ClimbPro screen
  • Whether riding freely or with a course for navigation, each individual climb appears as a dedicated ClimbPro page that automatically appears as a rider approaches a climb. This page shows the rider their position on the climb as well as the distance, ascent and average gradient remaining for that climb. This constantly updates as the rider makes progress to the top. The Edge screen below shows how ClimbPro will appear on an Edge 540/840/1040 Series device when riding ‘freely’ without course navigation.
ClimbPro screen

How are climbs classified?

The ClimbPro ascent planner is designed to help riders manage their efforts on significant climbs — not to detect every uphill section during a ride. ClimbPro uses a scoring system to categorize climbs where the climb score equals the length of the climb (meters) multiplied by grade (%).

To classify as a climb, the following criteria must be met:

  • The climb score must be a minimum of 1,500.
  • A climb must be a minimum of 500 meters in length.
  • The average gradient must be a minimum of 3%.

All Edge devices provide a control option in the activity profile menu that defines the size of climbs that are detected. The default climb detection is “medium to large climbs,” which require a climb score of more than 3,500. Enabling “all climbs” lowers the climb score threshold to 1,500, while selecting “only large climbs” would show only climbs with a score more than 8,000.

What do the colors mean?

The colors indicate the gradient of the climb in the following ways:

  • In the climb preview, the colors indicate the overall average gradient for the climb.
  • On the individual climb page, the colors indicate the detailed gradient for each section.
ClimbPro screen

What does a rider need for climbPro to work?

  • For Edge 130 Plus, Edge 530, Edge 830 and Edge 1030 Plus cycling computers, a rider needs to be following a course that includes elevation data in order for the ClimbPro page to appear. This course can come from the Garmin Connect app or other third-party routing platforms. Courses should be a .fit file format.
  • For Edge 540 series, Edge 840 series and Edge 1040 series devices that support course-free climb detection, we have added extra map updates to the Garmin Cycle Map. These supplementary maps come pre-installed on Edge 540 or Edge 840 devices, but Edge 1040 owners will need to update software on their devices by using Garmin Express software. Click here to update your software and maps on Edge 1040 series devices.

Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

FTP screen

Your functional threshold represents the maximum power output you can sustain for 1 hour. Your FTP estimate will form the basis for your personalized power zones and for most power-based training plans.

Your compatible Edge can detect your Functional Threshold either through a guided workout or automatically during a normal ride. Either way, by gathering heart rate data across a range of power outputs, the device will estimate your threshold in terms of power output. You will find your FTP estimate improves over time as your device learns your overall fitness level. Your compatible Edge also shows your FTP as a watts/kg value in relation to your weight and displays it on a rainbow gauge. This allows you to very quickly compare your own power-to-weight ratio against riders of different sizes.

Your compatible Edge can calculate your FTP with the following two ways:

Guided Test:

  • Using heart rate and power data, Edge takes you through a warmup followed by a gradual increase of targeted effort in 3–4 minute increments over a period of 15–20 minutes.
  • Based on your heart rate response to the increasing power effort, Edge calculates your FTP value.
  • You have the option to accept or reject this value. If you accept, your power zones will automatically recalculate based on the new value.
  • It is recommended this test is performed on a road with constant gradient or on an indoor trainer.

Auto FTP Detection:

  • If you set a personal 20-minute average power record, and if 95% of this value exceeds your current FTP estimate, we will prompt you to accept a new FTP value.
  • Again, you have the option to accept or reject this value.

Cycling Ability

Understanding Garmin cycling ability and event profiles

The new Garmin Edge 1040 introduces cycling ability and event course profiles powered by Firstbeat Analytics. These unique tools are designed to reveal your strengths as a rider and where to focus your efforts to improve. You can even analyze courses to understand their demands. Compare your current ability profile to the performance demands of a route to see when you are ready to race.

What kind of cyclist are you? Spend time in the saddle and you are sure to wonder what you are truly capable of on your bike. How do I compare to other riders? What kind of challenges best highlight my abilities? How have my abilities changed from last year and what is holding me back now?

Your Garmin cycling ability profile, rider type and course profiling tools answer these questions and more.

Building your cycling ability profile

Compatible Garmin devices construct your cycling ability profile using advanced analytics. Sophisticated algorithms apply physiological models to interpret combinations of heart rate and power data during your rides. You can ensure the quality of your profile by recording all your training activities with a both a heart rate monitor and a power meter paired to your device. Fresh activity data keeps your profile active and you can expect your profile to expire after a month of inactivity.

Challenger Profile Example

Cycling-ability screen

Endurance Specialist Profile Example

Cycling-ability screen

The goal of analyzing this data is to reveal your ability to perform across the three key performance categories: aerobic endurance, aerobic capacity, and anaerobic capacity. Full marks in a category reflect world-class ability.

This goal is achieved by considering combinations of VO2 max, power curve data, recent and longer-term training load distributions along with the intensity and duration of relevant rides. Combining these different perspectives creates a more robust portrait of your abilities than otherwise possible.

VO2 max Power Records Training Load Focus
Anaerobic Capacity 5sec, 1min, 5min Anaerobic
Aerobic Capacity 20min, 60min Aerobic High
Aerobic Endurance* 120min Aerobic Low

*Aerobic Endurance also incorporates an analysis of duration and intensity data from relevant rides in your activity history.

Your cycling ability profile can be interpreted to reveal where your advantages lie and where you have room to improve. Strengths and weaknesses reflected in your cycling ability profile stem from a mixture of genetic predisposition and the work you invest during training sessions.

Determining your rider type

Your current rider type is identified once your device has enough data to confidently assess your abilities. In addition to your performance abilities, information you enter about yourself, like body weight for example, also helps determine your rider type when it impacts what you can achieve.

Some riders have natural advantages when it comes to sprinting, endurance or climbing for example. Against that background, you can improve your abilities and even shift your ability profile and resulting rider type by modifying your training program.

Rider types include Challenger, All-rounder, Endurance Specialist, Road Sprinter, Flat Specialist, Climber, Puncheur, and Sprinter.

The first step towards classifying your current profile is to confirm basic fitness in at least one of the three performance categories. When general training is your best opportunity for development, your rider type is identified as Challenger. This gives you an opportunity to focus on building your base before specializing.

Once basic fitness levels are confirmed, the classification process starts from your strongest ability and proceeds based on your relative strengths in the other two categories. For example, if aerobic endurance is by far your strongest ability, then your rider type will logically be classified as Endurance Specialist. If your aerobic endurance and anaerobic capacity are equal with aerobic capacity lagging, then your rider type will be identified as a Road Sprinter. When your aerobic endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacities are equal, the All-rounder designation comes into play. This jack-of-all-trades category is common but is often temporary, fading with time as your training efforts progress.

Always consider the quantity and quality of recent training activities when looking to your rider type for guidance. Are you currently at or near the peak of your powers? Working your way back into shape? Your most natural personal profile emerges with well-balanced training sustained over time.

Classification Description
Challenger Regular training with a balanced approach holds the key to across-the-board development of your abilities over time.
All-Rounder Each of your performance capacities falls in a similar range and you are likely competitive in a range of events.
Endurance Specialist Fatigue resistance gives you an advantage over the course of long rides performed steadily and with moderate intensity.
Road Sprinter Combined strengths in endurance and anaerobic capacity translate into an ability to punctuate long rides with powerful attacks.
Flat Specialist Pushing your limits on flat courses benefits from the strong capacity of your aerobic energy pathways.
Climber Strong aerobic capacity combined with advantages in power-to-weight ratio return benefits on long and steady climbs.
Puncheur Rolling hills and repeated sprints are ideal turning this combination of aerobic and anaerobic capacities into an advantage.
Sprinter Strong anaerobic capacity translates into a preference for short bursts of pure power and speed.

Course profiles and ability based selection

Ready to hit the road? Courses you create or discover in Garmin Connect can be analyzed to reveal what kind of challenge they present. Once a route is analyzed, the demands of that route can be compared to your cycling ability profile to reveal if you are up for the challenge.

Fully understanding the demands of an upcoming race means being able to adjust your preparation and track progress towards your targeted event. On race day, you can approach the starting line confident you are well-prepared for the road ahead.

Analyzing the demands of a course starts by considering total distance. A strong aerobic endurance base sets the stage for success in racing long distances. Other considerations factored into the assessment include total elevation gain together with the frequency, distribution, and grade of hills along the way. A flat 20- to 30-mile race can be the perfect opportunity to show off your aerobic capacity. Even shorter courses and rolling hills may rely more on a combination of your aerobic and anaerobic capabilities.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between being able to ride a route and racing it. The performance ability demand profile for each course is generated with hard racing in mind. When you see that the demand profile of a given course is beyond your current abilities, it does not automatically mean you are unable to ride and complete the course. It simply means you will find yourself taking a more relaxed approach at times along the way.

Real-Time Stamina

Real-time Stamina

Real-time stamina is designed to help guide you toward your best possible performance, empowering you to push your limits with confidence. You gain context for interpreting feedback from your body, and you experience valuable insight along the way. Time and distance to exhaustion estimates predict what you can expect to achieve with your remaining stamina at your current effort.

Stamina describes your capacity for good, quality performance. Running out of stamina means reaching or rapidly approaching the point where keeping up becomes a serious struggle. How hard you are working affects how quickly your stamina drains during an activity.

Stamina (0–100%) reflects how much you have left in the tank at your current level of effort. This perspective combines general fatigue with more temporary limitations imposed by anaerobically driven efforts such as sprints, climbs and attacks.

Potential Stamina (0–100%) focuses specifically on the effects of broader, longer-lasting fatigue contributors such as muscle cell damage, central nervous system fatigue and carbohydrate (glycogen) depletion. Activities that result in near or total depletion of your potential stamina typically require several days of recovery before you are back at full capacity.

If you haven’t fully recovered from your last activity, your potential will not be at 100%.

Expect your stamina and potential to align during sustained moderate-intensity efforts. Up the intensity, exceed your lactate threshold (running) or FTP (cycling), and stamina will drain faster than your potential. Return to a moderate, sustainable effort, and stamina will gradually replenish toward your potential as the residual effects of high-intensity, anerobic exertion begin to wear off.

Calculating stamina

Real-time stamina tracking works by combining your physiological metrics with a multi-layered analysis of your recent and longer-term activity history. This includes examining training durations, distances covered, training load accumulations and load distributions for meaningful patterns that reflect fatigue resistance and personal tolerances for aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

While general fitness levels provide some insight into your performance ability, activity-specific training adaptations substantially influence your capacity for sustained performance. In other words, running ability doesn’t directly translate into cycling ability and vice versa. As a result, real-time stamina estimates are primarily guided by running history data during running activities and cycling history data during cycling activities.

MTB Dynamics

Select Garmin cycling computers come with mountain bike-specific metrics to help you evaluate your ride performance and gain you some bragging rights. Whether you’re a flow master, a black diamond expert or somewhere in between, these key metrics record various aspects of your ride, and some provide measurable data to show how you’re improving.

MTB Dynamics

Grit Metrics

Grit screen

Grit measures the difficulty of a mountain bike trail. It takes into account factors such as the trail grade and the angle of turns along the trail. The Grit score of a given trail should remain fairly consistent from rider to rider. It’s a useful metric for comparing the difficulty of the different trails you ride.

Your Garmin device continuously calculates Grit during your ride. Afterwards, when you sync with Garmin Connect, you’ll see a chart of the Grit scores throughout the ride and an overall score for the ride in Garmin Connect. You can also view the Grit rating along the trail on your activity map. The more difficult the trail, the higher the Grit score should be.

Flow Metrics

Flow screen

Flow measures how well a rider maintains speed during a ride or sections of their ride. It takes into account factors such as your speed consistency throughout your ride, fluidity through turns and other factors. Your Garmin device continuously calculates Flow during your ride. After the ride, when you sync, you’ll receive a chart of your Flow scores throughout the ride and an overall average Flow score for the ride, which you can view in Garmin Connect.

Flow screen

Lower Flow scores indicate an overall smoother ride. Higher scores represent a ride with more speed fluctuations or stops. Flow is a useful metric for analyzing your ride performance on a trail. For example, you can compare Flow scores between two rides on the same trail to look for areas of improvement or decline in how smoothly you were riding.


Jumps screens

Devices with MTB metrics can automatically detect jumps on your mountain bike rides. They also calculate the speed, distance and hangtime for each jump and generate an overall score for the jump based on these metrics.

Jumps screens

When you view the recorded activity in Garmin Connect, you’ll see a chart of your jump data. In addition to that, the location of each jump will be visible along the trail on your activity map. This helps you evaluate your jumps and compare the jumps you’ve done on a trail over time.

Cycling Dynamics

Whether you ride for competition, exploration or simply for fun, Garmin can help you gather the data to prove how hard you worked or aid you in improving your form. That’s because select devices, including our dual-sensing pedal-based power meters, let you access cycling dynamics. Cycling dynamics refers to a suite of advanced metrics designed to give comprehensive insight into how you’re riding and how your performance changes based on variables such as position, bike setup, ride duration and more. With cycling dynamics — cyclists, coaches, bike fitters and even physical therapists can analyze individual data for precise prescriptive actions.

Cycling Dynamics

Seated/Standing Position

A graphic depicting seated vs standing position on a bicycle.You likely have a unique preference for position on the bike during climbs and sprints. Vector can detect and flag riding position (seated or standing) during a ride by comparing forces applied to the pedals. Your compatible Edge cycling computer will then display current position, summaries of how often and how long you have been in the position and power data, all in real time.

After your ride, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect online fitness community. There you can view each position, associated cadence and speed, and you can compare time spent seated vs. standing. Even learn how a certain position affects your power output, and analyze climbs and sprints. This detailed data gives you a dialed-in look at your ride and can be useful when determining position effectiveness and identifying tendencies to move positions during particular moments of a ride.

Power Phase (PP)

A graphic illustrating power phase during a pedal stroke.Power phase provides a valuable description of how you’re currently producing power in a pedal stroke. Vector detects where the leg is generating positive torque in a pedal stroke and where the greatest concentration of positive torque occurs. It also senses the angle at which these forces begin and end and where your concentration of power is produced. If you’re using the dual-sensing Vector power meter, you get to take your analysis one step further and see if there are differences between the left and right leg.

Power phase is measured as a combination of degrees and arc length, with 0 degrees representing the 12 o’clock position and 180 degrees representing the 6 o’clock position. The length of the power phase is measured by the difference between the starting and end angles. For example, a power phase starting angle of 5 degrees and a power phase end angle of 220 degrees would represent a power phase arc length of 215 degrees. With dual-sensing pedals, this information is provided for both your left and right legs. Then you can view where the majority of power is produced using the peak power phase metric (PPP). The default setting is for peak power phase to represent 50% of the power output, but this can be adjusted up or down depending on your preference.

You can view power phase metrics displayed graphically on Edge devices and on Garmin Connect. This makes it easier for you to visualize your pedal stroke.

Platform Center Offset (PCO)

An image displaying platform center offset on a pedal.The PCO measurement is calculated by identifying how force is distributed across the pedal platform during the pedal stroke. That means you can view and evaluate where force is applied relative to the center of the pedal platform and what the PCO distribution is over a given period of time. Analyzing this data can help you determine proper bike fit and cleat position. It may also be helpful in preventing injury and rehabilitation.

PCO is measured in millimeters. Positive values (e.g., +6 mm) indicate increased force toward the outside of the pedal, while negative values (e.g., -4 mm) indicate increased force toward the inside of the pedal. You can view this information in graph form on your Edge device. The red line indicates the current 10-second average value and the blue line represents the average for the previous 30 seconds.

Right/Left Balance

An image showing the power output difference between a left and right leg.Our dual-sensing pedals are not only able to measure your combined power output, but they can also separate left-leg from right-leg power to let you know if one leg is producing more power than the other. In other words, how symmetrically are you pedaling?

Studies show that a large imbalance between the left and right leg force production can cause premature fatigue and even put you at increased risk for injury. That’s why it’s good to know if there’s significant asymmetry, so you can work on improving it. Symmetry means both legs are working equally hard, giving you better efficiency.

Cycling Awareness

Garmin has the tools that improve your ability to see and be seen while you’re riding. Give yourself a little peace of mind with these cycling awareness accessories and features.

Cycling Awareness

GroupTrack and LiveTrack Features

GroupTrack and LiveTrack Features screen

Let those in your riding group and those back at home keep track of you while you ride. By starting a LiveTrack or GroupTrack ride, you give your selected contacts the ability to follow you in real time and see where you’re located.

Rider-to-rider Messaging

Rider-to-rider Messaging screen

Compatible Edge devices feature built-in incident detection. When an incident is detected, your GPS location will automatically be sent to designated friends and family.

Incident Detection

Incident Detection screen

Compatible Edge devices feature built-in incident detection. When an incident is detected, your GPS location will automatically be sent to designated friends and family.

Assistance Feature

Compatible Edge devices also include the Assistance feature. This allows you to manually share your location with your emergency contacts should you need assistance, e.g., in the event of a mechanical issue or a puncture.

Varia Rearview Radar

Varia Rearview Radar screen

Varia rearview radar detects vehicles approaching from behind up to 140 meters (153 yards) and displays on your compatible Edge or Varia head unit.

Varia Smart Bike Lights

Varia Smart Bike Lights screen Varia Smart Bike Lights screen

See and be seen with our smart bike lights. When paired with a compatible Edge device, the lights automatically adjust to ambient light and speed.

Upcoming Sharp Turn Alerts

Upcoming Sharp Turn Alerts screen

When you’re on a bike, surprises aren’t always a good thing. Be better prepared for what’s ahead with on-device warnings for upcoming sharp turns when navigating.

A Call to the Community

The dedication of the cycling community contributed immensely to the development of innovative new Garmin features such as Trendline popularity routing. As we continue to improve it, there’s one thing you can do to help. The more you can do to accurately categorize your rides or runs in Garmin Connect, the more useful popularity routing is going to be across activity types. Stay diligent about carefully differentiating your mountain bike rides from your road cycling rides, and the entire Garmin Connect community will benefit.

A Call to the Community