Poll on wattage targets for outside workouts on Garmins

We’re pretty close to lauching outside workouts on Garmins.

We have an internal debate about wattage targets that we hope you can help settle.

The way a Garmin workout works is that you get a target range that you need to stay in. You get a little graphical representation with an arrow showing if you’re in the range or not. If you are out of the range, there’s visual and audio feedback for you to get back in the range.

The question we have is how to define this range.

Option 1 - Percent of Target (+/- 2%)
For this option, we’d do +/- 2% of target. If you were doing intervals at 100% of threshold we’d tell Garmin to have the target between 98-102%.

The problem with this is if you have a really low or high FTP.

For a 100 FTP rider, your range would only be 4 watts which is very hard to hold outside. For a 400 watt FTP rider, you’d have a 16-watt range.

Option 2 - Absolute Target (+/- 6 Watts)
If this option we’d always go +/- 6 watts for any target. If you were doing threshold intervals at a 250 watt FTP you’re target would be between 244-256.

The problem with this one is if you have a low FTP you might be bumped slightly into another zone with a 12 watt spread for your target.

My vote is Option 2, because I think option 1 is not doable for low FTP riders and makes the range too big for high FTP riders…but…I’ve been known to be wrong.

What do you think? How should we build wattage targets on Garmins for outside workouts?

  • Option 1 - Percent of Target (+/- 2% of FTP)
  • Option 2 - Absolute Target (+/- 6 Watts)
  • Other - See Comments

0 voters

Option 2, but maybe have the possibility to define the range yourself. Not sure if this is possible.

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Do a hybrid of the two, define an absolute min and a max range

  • if percent of target is lower than min, use min
  • if percent of target is higher than max, use max
  • else use percent of target
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I think the min and max should be 6 watts :-D. Maybe I could be convinced to do 5, but it’s super annoying when you’re outside an interval; you get lots and lots of beeps.


Does it use the specified average? (whatever you set the headunit to) or a specific set average? (like 3s or 5s)

Holding a 12 watt spread on a 1s average is much different than a 20s average obviously and could be a way that riders can tune the frequency of beeps?

Edit, looks like TR controls the average for interval length:


We might tune this too based on feedback. I could see us doing 10 seconds on shorter intervals just because it can be hard to hold power outside.

Maybe we should just stay on trainers… :smiling_imp:



I’d recommend going for an even wider spread. Not only are the beeps super annoying, but the on-screen alert on the Garmin head unit obscures the data fields for several seconds, which means even less awareness of your power.

Before I acquired an indoor trainer, I would do my structured training at an outdoor velodrome (using Garmin’s workout creator). No traffic, but the wind would change direction 90 deg every 10 seconds. I could easily hold the lap average power +/- 2 watts, but 3s power would be lucky to be +/- 20W, and the prescribed ranges would generate more out-of-zone alerts than actual display. I ended up not setting any target power at all, but just writing the desired power into the step notes.


I don’t know about that. Even ten watts are very hard to hold if you’re dealing with winds on a loop or something. I like the idea of making them customizable but with some instructions on what is productive.

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Thanks for asking!

When I worked with a private coach I struggled to hold his targets. We ended up learning that I personally need 10-15w to work in. When it’s vo2 just give us a >value if possible

I have always turned off all alerts on the Garmin, too annoying


My 3 sec power avg is difficult to hold within 10 percent of a goal without deviation unless I’m staring at power meter, which isn’t safe

Same here. I’ve done tons of running intervals with Garmin watches, and the first thing I learned is what you said - turn off the warnings. Use short-term +longer-term indications, and memorize the 2 or 3 targets of this workout.


I think we need a wider spread. There is much more variance riding outdoors and from my experience with the Edge workout feature I feel like a 20w spread (+/-10w) is more appropriate.


I agree the range is wider, but the rider is still encouraged to try to balance the middle. Lower FTP can also mean less experienced rider, and in that case a wider range give more wiggle room in the learning process.

I agree. Option 1 makes it even harder to hit the target for new riders. Seasoned riders with high FTP can also (or should train to) handle a narrower range.

Option 2 is a good sweet spot (pun intended :wink:) for training like this. But I’m not sure if +/- 6w is a big enough range, even for the more experienced riders. A small climb/decent or some wind will push you out of the range before you have time to react (even when focusing on the head unit).

Option 2 for me.

When creating run workouts I’ll set up the Garmin to be between 3:45 - 3:58 / km for a 1600m vO2 interval. From what I can tell the device will only beep three times if I’m outside that range, then won’t annoy me again until the next interval.

I’m not sure how these things work, and have a Bolt myself, but when I’m doing workouts outside, my climbs are far too variable to stay remotely close to +/-6 watts near my target.

I look at my 5sec watts to make sure I’m not going off too hard or too easy, but my main metric is average lap watts, which I use to gett up / down to target and then try to hold it. I also look at HR, e.g. during vo2 efforts I’ll try to get to and hold 90%+ max HR.

For example, here’s a 3min interval in an attempt to do Spencer +2 outdoors on my local climb, which has 3 steep ramps separated by flatter sections:

Unless you’ve got long and incredibly even climbs, I don’t think the aim should be “make it as much like ERG mode as possible”.


I agree to the users who say a +/- 6 Watts or +/- 2% range is too narrow. Garmin relies on 1 sec power and at least with my powermeter that is very variable. If I don’t allow +/- 10% or so it will beep every few seconds obscuring datafields with the notification. I prefer setting a wide range and then trying to get the 10sec power to match the middle. Way less annoying and tolerates power fluctuations while shifting etc but stills warns if getting lazy. :wink: And at the end of the interval I usually managed to hit it quite close.

For longer intervals outdoor I prefer heart rate anyways - you have biological smoothing (proven over millions of years :stuck_out_tongue: ) and when accepting the 30-60 second lag until steady state HR you can easily react to a sinking or raising heartrate. Hitting sweet spot wattage works well for me in the post ride analysis.

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I think I’m getting worried about too many people looking at their Garmins instead of looking at the road!

It’s a great idea in theory, and I like the idea of Target +/- 10 watts, and maybe a quick tutorial on how to switch off alerts from your Garmin. On my ancient 800 the alert takes up quite a bit of the screen, so in this situation I would hear the beep, look at the screen and not be able to see what correction to make!

I think there will be even more fun with power smoothing…

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Totally agree with @mcalista. I tried intervals earlier this season on a 16 minute climb and almost ended up throwing my Garmin away on the ride! It’s not just the beeps, it’s the fact the screen changes so you can no longer see your data fields. It’s making me mad just thinking about it again!!!


That’s why the alerts are not so useful. After all, in a typical session, you have one, maybe two different targets to remember; you just monitor yourself to those targets. After a while, you get to know pretty well where these are, almost without looking.