Apple Watch Fitness Tracking: Cardio > Everything Else

September 12, 2015

For example, isometric exercises like push-ups and spider crawls aren’t accurately tracked because they burn calories at a different rate from standard cardio exercises like running and cycling. If I walk on an elliptical machine for thirty minutes, the Watch will accurately detail the calories burned and the minutes performed. If I’m bench pressing, then it will not accurately calculate the calories I’ve burned. My trainer who’s tried the Watch for himself says that it’s off by a long shot.

Here’s the deal though: people who are doing push-ups or bench pressing aren’t concerned with tracking calories. No one cares. If you’ve read this site for a bit, you sure as hell know I don’t care about calories. The real issue isn’t that it can’t track the calories burned by bench pressing, it’s that it can’t track bench pressing at all.

I found this post via Michael Rockwell’s Initial Charge, who commented:

I’d love to see Apple address these issues, but I’m afraid it would involving having to input the type of exercise, number of reps, etc. into an application. That’s not ideal and requires a much more hands on approach to fitness tracking than cardio workouts do.

The simple fact of the matter is that Apple is, and always has been, catering exclusively to the “long slow distance” (LSD) crowd. The only “fitness” being tracked by the Apple Watch is the dreadful, hour-long misery that is plodding along on an elliptical while you read a magazine or catch up on the latest podcast.

Strength athletes have always tracked their workouts, but even in 2015, most coaches still recommend simple composition notebooks, because no digital alternative has proven to be comprehensive or reliable enough. I think it’s a stretch to say that “having to input the type of exercise, number of reps, etc. into an application” is “not ideal” for the Apple Watch. It’s entirely plausible (I’d design the app myself if…), and it’d only take one well-designed third party app to get me on board the Apple Watch train. If Apple is going to market the Apple Watch as some sort of comprehensive fitness tracker, they’re going to have to include this basic functionality eventually, or lose out on a huge population of athletes searching for a solution (I’d love to track my workouts on my watch, believe me. I despise getting chalk on my iPhone 6 Plus, or even using it in the gym at all.)