Which Fitness Wearable for Training Intensity/Readiness/Recovery?

Hi all!

I am looking for an Fitness Wearable to help me assess the impact of my cycling workouts.

Irrespective of training now for several years, my own judgement/perception is still quite bad so looking for some technical help.

I do not need some fancy watches with messaging, music playing and stuff like that, just some decent device which helps assessing when I am recovered and ready for another workout.
So something about Training Intensity / Training Readiness and Recovery. I assume this includes features like sleep tracking, HRV, Resting Heart Rates etc, you name it.

Basic fitness trackers (like Huawei Band 8) do not match my must haves and I dont want to wear a ring (Oura) or run a subscribtion (Whoop), so currently I´m loking at some models from Garmin and Polar but I am open to new suggestions :).

Thanks for reading!


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Listening to your body, applying training and recovery/nutrition strategies, etc is still the key to long term success. I wear a garmin that gives me a ton of data, but after 3+ years of wearing a whoop or garmin, I do not see a ton of value in most of the numbers day to day, and while there is some value in looking back at historical data to gain some insights, and the numbers day to day can be a good gut check, there are so many variables that can augment RHR and HRV it’s very difficult to make use of it for recovery or training readiness on a micro and even macro scale. All of the algorithms are based on your heart beat, and the more layers of algorithms that are applied to it, the more potential for error and less meaningful and accurate the data can become.

What I do find useful is the sleep tracking, as it helps keep me accountable. Whoop is probably the best at it, but Garmin is good enough for giving me that extra nudge to get to sleep on time, and it’s free after you buy the device.


The least bothersome for me is hrv4training because you can just use your smartphone camera and apparently it’s quite accurate (more accurate than most wearables) but the app is not free and for more detailed analysis you need a subscription on top

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I’ve been using a Garmin Instinct for 2 years. It has a long battery life, is a functional smart watch, and does a good enough job for sleep/hrv tracking to be valuable. I also use it to track my commuting rides, hikes, strength training, and cyclocross races. It has been a great purchase because it isn’t just a wearable but also serves a lot of other functions.


I’ll second the Garmin Instinct (I have a Garmin Instinct 2). It works great at doing everything that you’re looking for and I think the Garmin system tracks all those metrics pretty well.

A couple of nuances though, which I don’t think are unique to Garmin.

  • If I always followed the “recommendations” like training readiness or things like that, I’d maybe only ride/train about 3 days a week. Then it starts this downward spiral that when you do train or ride, it tells you to take it easy more and more because you lose fitness.
  • It does/doesn’t reflect non-workout stress well. Yes, things like poor diet, life stress, etc. do show up in your daily stress/hrv/sleep whatever but that’s life sometimes and Garmin typically tries treats all “stress” the same.
  • I also think stress/HRV tends to be a little seasonal (there are some studies on this), where people tend to have lower HRV and higher stress in the winter than summer. So take this in account.

I think at the end of the day, I think trackers work well for establishing trends or baselines but if you try to follow it exactly day to day, its too conservative. You have to really understand the bigger picture of life and your body.


I’ve worn a whoop, an AppleWatch, and a Fenix for long periods over the last few years. They’re all interesting, but have their faults and to be honest, the numbers often don’t match how you feel. It’s kind of like TR’s new RLGL feature. Some days it says you’re tired and need a day off and you feel awesome and some days it says you’re ready to go and you feel tired. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen someone say “why is Garmin saying I’m Unproductive?” I’d be a very happy man!

I’m not saying there isn’t value in tracking some of these things, and there are tons of other benefits to a modern smart/fitness watch, but in the end, the most valuable thing you can do is learn to assess how you feel and adjust your plan daily before your ride. Consistency is king.

If you’re looking for good deals, I see the Fenix 6 is now only $350!


All good insights
The only thing I have a problem with the companies is they charge you hundreds of dollars for the hardware and an additional charge for the access to get the data function…RED CARD, Penalty Flag…

This is what I like about Garmin they provide data free. Yes, you pay for the hardware but there is not a tag along life time charge for the data after paying a hefty price for hardware.
I use a Fitbit but to get detailed info on sleep and HRV I have to pay an additional charge…The watch Versa 3 already costs a pretty penny :rage:. I should have done better research now the watch keeps on ticking it won’t die…Rat bastards got me… :roll_eyes:

Each morning I do comparison of my Readiness and HRV and they are all slightly different…
for HRV FITBIT and ELITE HRV free mobile app both track HRV RMSSD.
However, FITBIT tracks HRV during your sleep, the longest sleep period of 3hrs.
Elite HRV gives you real time time of testing plus detailed cardiac power data…
Garmin 1030 now 1040 gives me readiness real time Does not provide HRV details. It will not track throughout the night it times out.

For Example, Today having had 8hrs sleep following two recovery days both Elite HRV and Fitbit had my readiness at Green… Where as Garmin had my readiness in the RED…
I suspect if you had a Garmin Wearable during sleep it would track differently.
As mentioned above after tracking for a while you get to understand your body and how you actually feel versus what the numbers are saying. You will become acutely tuned to your body :wink:

I would recommend not paying for a service that already charges for the hardware. So stay away from FITBIT!! versa3. I’m just waiting for it to break before buying a new watch…
so Garmin would be the answer and as mentioned above the Fenix 6 is at a reduced price… Garmins top of the line stuff is expensive but they provide services without additional charges. :+1: :+1:
Good luck.


I used a whoop for 2 1/2 years, it was okay, but expensive. I tried some of the simpler Vivo trackers from Garmin and wasn’t happy with the bands or the lack of metrics I’d gotten used to with whoop.

I’ve since replaced them with a Venue 3 as the day to day tracker. Not as bulky as a Fenix, beautiful AMOLED screen like the Epic, and all the features I want for off the bike training and tracking. and

The Garmin metrics are good and readiness/recovery line up pretty well with red light green light.


Maybe in the minority, but my experience with Garmin’s readiness and recovery metrics has been terrible, mainly because the sleep tracking on my watch (Forerunner 955) is inaccurate to the point of being worthless.

Last night is a great example—it correctly detected that I went to sleep at around 9:15 PM, and correctly detected that I woke up at 6:43 AM (although it only knows that because that’s the time I went through the morning report), but completely missed that I was wide awake from 11:47 PM until about 4:00 AM, even though I was playing with my phone and got up several times. So, it thinks I got nine hours of “long, deep sleep” and my body battery is at 100, even though I feel completely exhausted. At some point later today it’ll probably tell me that my recovery has been “improved by napping”, as it usually does when I’m just working at my desk.

If it can’t reliably tell when I’m asleep or awake, I can’t really trust any of the sleep metrics, and by extension any of the recovery metrics either :man_shrugging:


If you’re an iPhone user, the best smart watch you can buy is an Apple Watch - there’s no contest.

Pair it with the Athlytic app and you’ll have a reasonable sensible whoop-like Daily Recovery score along with nice presentation for lots of other health and exercise metrics, that pulls all its data from Apple Health.

Given that last point, you can also use it with Garmin etc if you’re syncing to Apple Health, but given that the Garmin is a terrible smart watch when paired with an iPhone, that’d be a waste!


Fully agree. I had the same issue with Whoop too.

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That’s why I cancelled Whoop.

Not sure what it’s like these days but a few years ago, the hardware was “free” but they made you pay for an 18 month subscription.

The oddball length on the subscription made it so you’d miss the autorenew.

Felt like a big old scam to me, especially since the only time I truly believed the Whoop score was when was feeling extremely good or extremely bad.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I surely will just use the device for assistance purposes to establishing trends / baselines as mentioned here. Also tried some Apps in the past (HRV4Training and EliteHRV) but these are limited to just one data capture requiring high discipline (e.g. doing the measurment right after waking up). With two little kids who do not intend to support Dad´s morning routine it was hard (to nearly impossible) to maintain even one month of measurements :slight_smile:, and consistency is key here. So I now prefer the more continuos readings of a fitness tracker.

To cut a long story short, thats what I am going to do now after comparing various brands and models:
Finally, I choose the Garmin Instinct 2 to be used along with Android. Its currently available here for under 200 with a return-option within 4 weeks if not satisfied. For starting with fitness trackers it seems to be a good option. Sure, other devices have more advanced features (e.g. Polar seems to have a much better Sleep Tracking) or better displays etc but I am just starting and want to have some raw data (which the Instinct delivers) and get a taste of the various recommendation features. In the end it was just a money-value comparison. Also, most of the reviews I read/watched were quite good (DC Rainmaker etc) and possibly it may also replace my 10y-old bike computer, so much cycling features are available (sure, still no Fenix :)).

So, yeah, thats my approach. Thanks again for pointing out some caveats and sharing your experience.


  • Whoop seems to have a 1-month-test option for free these day
  • RLGL: today I do not see the real benefit of this feature as it is just based on your TR training history (acc to Nate in the Announcement thread). So no personal stats (e.g. Age) or biomatrics (HR, Sleep etc) are used. Maybe they are going to enhance? But this seems to be discussed well in the other thread :smiley:
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This is exactly the reason I prefer a device that collects data 24/7.

I saw that you mentioned you don’t want to wear a ring, but I am extremely happy with my Oura. Apart from the better data quality compared to many other devices, the monthly fee (6 €) is also quite cheap.

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Interesting, as I find my 245 does quite a good job tracking my sleep. Only time I have to manually correct is generally weekends if I get up, deal with the cats, and then go back to bed/ sleep for an hour or two.

I’ve always found my body battery tracks well with how I feel, and both track well with my RLGL scores. My long weekend spin puts my body battery very low, RLGL gives me a red day. Similarly, when I stick to my TR plan, I generally stay “productive”. That, and resting heart rate without thinking about it, mean I haven’t really felt the need to upgrade to a more specific tracker.


To add my 2c on Garmin, I’ve had a Vivoactive 4 for about 4 years now, and while I do like the reams of data it gives, some of it I’d take with a pinch of salt. Sleep for instance. As others have said, it’s not great at detecting when your awake during the night. I generally sleep 6-1/2 to 7 hours per night - have done for years, but it insists on telling me I have to get 8 hours per night. It’s also super conservative with recovery time - a 40 minute hilly commute often warrants a recommendation I take 4 days to recover. On topic here, training status is really hit and miss with TR - it’ll often go days or weeks without acknowledging TR workouts, no idea why.
I do like stuff like body battery (based on HRV far as I know), which I find does a pretty good job of telling me what sort of state I’m in for a workout.
So take it for what it is, but don’t expect miracles

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Thanks for the additional feedback.

Regarding Oura: I do not like to wear a ring so its just my personal preference.

Regarding Recovery time: I just did a (managable) Threshold WO yesterday but forgot to update the FTP-Value. So the watch calculated my WO with an FTP of 30% under my acutal FTP and everything was bumped up (IF, TSS etc) resulting in a suggested recovery of 3d :smiley: . Its true to take the information with a grain of salt and having just started, a real comprehensive feedback can just be given in a couple of weeks.

Garmin for me. Not paying a subscription for access to my data, and I already have / need Garmins for my bike and daily watch usage.

Even with it being unable to tell when I’ve woken up, or am lying in bed awake, overall sleep score, body battery, HRV all track with how I feel.

If I was an iPhone user (I’m not) I’d probably have the Apple Watch for daily use, but Garmin as a Training and Outdoor watch is much better IMO (I’ve had scenarios where I can’t charge for 7-10 days).

Totally agree. I have been Fenix 7 user for about 1.5 years trying to live in Garmin ecosystem and finally got back to AW + Athlytic. As folks mentioned, Garmin metrics are total garbage and their software is, well, it’s not allowed to use these words here.