How to use the Apple Watch to track a Workout session

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 13 May 2015


One of the strengths of the Apple Watch is the device’s ability to monitor your health and fitness. Combined with the iPhone, the Watch can be an important tool to keep active, lose weight, manage diabetes and more. The Watch has two components to help you in your quest for a healthy lifestyle — the Activity app, which we covered previosuly, and the Workout app, which we will discuss in detail below.

The Workout app allows you to set a goal and track your progress as you exercise. The app lets pick your activity and then set a goal based on time, distance or calories burned. It then monitors your workout session and tracks your progress as you move towards your exercise goal. As you use the Workout app and choose workout activities, the Watch will learn your fitness level and habits. The app then will adjust its calories burned to your fitness profile and will re-order the list of available workouts to reflect your preferences.

Starting a workout session


You can start a workout session directly on the Watch using the Workout app. Just open the app, choose your workout type, set a goal and then get busy exercising.

  1. Swipe or turn the Digital Crown to see a list of available exercises.
  2. Tap the workout type you’re going to perform. Use “Other” if your activity is not listed
  3. On the goal screen, swipe left or right to choose a calorie, time, or distance goal. You also can choose “Open” or no goal if you just want to exercise freely.
  4. If you prefer to use a workout goal, you can turn the Digital Crown or tap + / – to set the parameters for your goal.
  5. Tap Start to begin a workout

Note: If you measure calories or time, you can leave your iPhone at home and exercise with only Apple Watch. If you want the most accurate distance measurements outdoors, you should bring the iPhone as the Watch can use the phone’s GPS to calculate the distance traveled.

Using goal metrics for a data-driven workout

By default, the Apple Watch will display your progress using its standard ring indicator. If you prefer more details such as elapsed time or distance traveled, you can configure the Workout app to display “goal metrics.” This option is available in the Watch app on the iPhone.

  1. Open the Watch app on the iPhone
  2. Tap My Watch to access the Watch-specific settings
  3. Tap Workout
  4. Tap the “Show Goal Metric” to turn on this option

How to pause a workout on Apple Watch


Sometimes life gets in the way, and you are forced to take a quick break during a workout. When you must stop briefly, you can easily pause a workout a session and quickly start up again using force touch. Just press firmly on the display, and then tap Pause. To continue your workout, press firmly on the display again, and then tap Resume to begin again.

How to minimize power during a long workout

Using the Workout app for a long period can have a negative impact on battery life. You can save precious power by using Power Save Mode, which disables the heart rate sensor during extended walking, hiking or running workouts.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
  2. Tap My Watch to access Watch settings.
  3. Select Workout.
  4. Turn on the Power Saving Mode toggle.

How to end a workout session

The Workout app will sound an alarm when you reach your Workout goal. If you are in  groove, you can continue to exercise, and the Apple Watch will collect data until you tell it to stop. When you are done, use Force Touch and firmly press the display, then tap End. Turn the Digital Crown to scroll through the results summary, and then tap Save or Discard at the bottom.

Do you use the Workout app when monitoring your exercise sessions? Have you discovered any interesting features of the Workout app? Please share your experiences in the comments.

If you want to learn more about the Apple Watch, you can view additional tutorials on our Apple Watch Tips and Tricks page and our Apple Watch Guide page. If you have an area you would like to see covered in this ongoing series of Watch tutorials or have discovered your own handy tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.

You may also like:

➤ How to use the Apple Watch to track your activity level

➤ Here’s how Apple Watch will help you stay healthy and fit

➤ Tips to improve Apple Watch battery life