Garmin Connect guide: Unleash the full power of this incredible app

A must read for any Garmin user
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Garmin Connect is the powerhouse behind your sports watch or smartwatch – and is where the magic happens in terms of tracking and analysing your workouts, or keeping tabs on your heart and activity.

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.

Whether you have a supercharged, feature-rich Fenix 6 outdoor watch or a running watch like the Forerunner 55, the data is still all presented in Garmin Connect.

From preparing for a marathon and setting monthly goals, to joining team step challenges and beating other runners' best times around your favourite 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


My Day is where your activity data lives, and is a quick look at your activity from the past 24 hours. You can press expand/collapse for an even more/less visual look at your daily activity.

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
  • training status
  • steps
  • sleep
  • intensity minutes
  • respiration
  • stress level
  • calories

All of the metrics are expandable as well, if you need to drill deeper into your data. For example, if you tap on Heart Rate you will see a graph of your heart rate across the way.

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.

Edit my day

This screen is customisable too. You can tap Edit My Day and reorder the metrics you see, or remove them if you want. You an also remove entire panes of information if you need.

Conquer sleep


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 Sleep app screen.

Select Settings > Settings > User Settings > 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 look over after your bed time.

You can now see Sleep Stages, which shows how much time you spent in each sleep cycle – showing you your progress through deep and light sleep. If your device supports it, you'll also be able to see blood oxygen and respiration rate data. With that data you can monitor breathing disturbances, which could be an indication that all might not be well. It's not used for medical purposes however.

Read this: Testing out Garmin's new sleep features

How to 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.

To change step goals in Garmin Connect, do the following:

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

Use the calendar


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


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 and Stryd 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.


How to see personal records

It's natural to want to have a look back at the mammoth PBs you smashed and the good news is that you can do that. Though it's not hugely straightforward as things stand currently.

On the Garmin Connect app, you can select your profile picture and select stats. From here you can see your running over the past twelve months along with personal step goals.

If you want to know to see your running PBs, you'll need to head to the web app to view personal records. From here you can see 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon and furthest distance run.

How to view Garmin Badges


We know people love a virtual badge and it's a fun way to look back at milestones and your achievements and go after some more. These badges can be earned from a variety of activities including running, steps and even sleep.

To find your badges, tap your profile photo in the Connect phone app, and go to Activity. From there you can can see badges earned and ones that are still available to unlock. We've broken down the best Garmin Connect Badges you can snap up.

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 by doing the following:

  • Head to the item you want to edit in the Calendar
  • Tap 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

How to export GPX files when Strava goes down


If for some reason you'd like to pull down outdoor workouts and wellness data you've tracked with your Garmin, it is possible to do that through Garmin Connect. They'll appear as GPX files, which you can then use to upload to other apps like Strava for instance to manually upload workouts to third party apps. To get GPX files from Garmin Connect:

  • Go to the Garmin Connect web app and sign in
  • On the side menu, search for All Activities and select
  • Once you've found the activity you want to export, press the settings cog (usually in top right) and select to download as GPX file.
  • you can additionally download files in TCX, Google Earth, CSV and in original file format depending o where you want to use that data.

Understand your body with Performance Stats


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 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.

Change your heart rate zones


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.

Read more: How to train with Garmin heart rate zones

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.

Use lactate threshold

Many Garmin devices can workout your lactate threshold heart rate, which the the point at which your body produces lactate acid faster than you can flush it back out. Effectively, this is the threshold after which you will struggle to continue your effort over long distances.

Many Garmins will work out your lactate threshold if you pair it with a chest strap. You must also do an outdoor workout, tracked by GPS and have a VO2 max score registered.

Once you have a lactate threshold, you can set your heart rate zones from this data, rather than from your max heart rate data.

To use your lactate threshold data you need to do the following:

In Garmin Connect go to Garmin Devices > User Settings > Heart Rate Zones and change the Based On data to be % of LT. Then reset the zones to have them recalculated.

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 to a 5k, 10k or half marathon PB


If you have no idea where to start with your running or how to train for a race, compatible Garmin watches have access to something called Garmin Coach. This will help you create a training plan for tackling a 5k, 10k or half marathon distance that is built on your running level.

Once you've created the plan and picked one of Garmin's expert coaches, sessions from those plans can be synced to your watch where you'll be prompted to do them on your training days.

To find Garmin Coach, you'll need to head to the training plans section of the Connect app, which can be found under Training. If you want a better idea of how it all works and find out about the Garmin watches it works with, check out or Garmin Coach in-depth guide.

Upgrade your Garmin with Connect IQ


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 945 and the Fenix 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 your running shoes

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 Nikes or Asics shoes 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.

To find the gear tracker:

  • Go to More on the iOS app or tap top left hand button to bring up the menus and select Gear.
  • From here you can add brand, model, max distance and more.

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 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


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, then you need to do the following:

  • Go into Live Track in the Garmin Connect app
  • Choose how you'd like to share the link to your session
  • 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


This is one of the more recent 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.

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

Garmin Connect Online


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


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


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 and download routes on Garmin Connect


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 and Forerunner devices though.

TAGGED Garmin Running

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

Related stories