Garmin is looking to solve one of the most difficult issues facing wearables with its latest release, the vvosmart 3: How can an activity tracker is helpful in the weight room?
Just about every fitness tracker I’ve ever worn is more focused on counting paces and logging operates than anything else. I run, but as a former athlete, I expend more of my workout period at the gym lifting weights. Barebones wearables have little to offer there, so my workouts move largely untracked.
The $ 140 vvosmart 3 is a shot at making a more well-rounded wearable for everyone, with the added bonus of new weight room-specific features to appeal to workout warriors who’ve committed to the #SWOLELIFE.
Garmin sets forth a good effort, but can’t quite draw off the execution. It’s like an overeager lifter slapping on too much weight: It appears strong at the outset, but once you actually set it to run, the vvosmart 3 can’t quite create the bar.
The comfortable, waterproofed silicon band sits well on the wrist, and the integrated OLED display within the band “hides” when dormant, constructing it less obtrusive than thinner trackers( Fitbit Alta HR, I’m looking at you ). The vvosmart 3 might look basic, but the spartan approach is more of a perk here than on other machines. This is not a fashion-first wearable, in a good way.
The battery life operates in line with Garmin’s five-day approximations, although I was able to squeeze an extra day of use out for a solid six. The machine receives text, email, and social media notifications, and you can also control your phone’s music from your wrist.
This is not a fashion-first wearable, in a good way.
The vvosmart 3 trails operates, countings paces, and logs your sleep, like its competitors from Fitbit, the Alta HR and the Charge 2. All of these features work well enough, but there’s nothing that stands out as a top performer. There’s no built-in GPS for operates, which is a surprise from a company with Garmin’s pedigree, and its basic sleep tracking part is lacking when compared to Fitbit’s new sleep Stages and Insights.
The wearable’s extensive number of features can be tough to navigate on the wrist, while the Garmin Connect app is, candidly, a mess. Even after wearing it for a few weeks, I struggle to draw out the activity I’m looking for at times, with its convoluted menu and system of swipes and taps. That’s not to say it’s impossible to use it just takes some extra time to set up activities, even after crossing the high barrier of entry.
Hitting the gym
I was most excited to check out the vvosmart 3’s weight room performance. The strength develop part is built to log workouts immediately on the machine, with individual rep counting and even a route to automatically identify the specific exercise being performed via the device’s sensors.
This could be Garmin’s real edge against Fitbit in the wearable campaigns. The Charge 2 offers a general heart rate tracker and timer for lifts but not an individual rep counter like the vvosmart 3, let alone a tool to automatically ID exerts.
I made the tracker a first shoot on the bench press. Controlling the feature is easy enough: only tap the screen to start counting reps, tap it again to stop. That’s one determine. Continue until you’ve crushed your workout. Then, only save your progress to the app, which allows you manually input weight totals and check out your heart rate performance.
No matter how many reps I did on the bench, the vvosmart 3 tacked on an extra.
I loaded up some weight on the bar, tapped the screen, ripped through eight reps and discovered 9 looking back at me. WTF?
No matter how many reps I did on the bench, the vvosmart 3 tacked on an extra. I tried to keep my arms from making such a extraneous motions, but no matter what: 9. When I moved on to other upper body and shoulder moves with dumbbells, the same thing happened.
I made it another shoot on leg day. During hunkers and other lower body moves, the tracker at least got a few situateds right but it was inaccurate the majority of members of the time, counting only a few of the reps in a determine, or none at all in several instances.
The automatic ID for exercise type was was way off too, although I wasn’t expecting much there without a more complex sensor system involved. Almost every move I made was tagged as a sit-up even though I didn’t do a single crunch. A few situateds of deadlifts and curls were accurately recorded, to be fair, but that was all that worked over multiple workouts.
The accuracy issues sunk Garmin’s attempt to subdue the weight room. I’d have to go back through the app on my phone after the workout to label every single exercise, rep count, and weight set-by-set to make it worth my while, which overcomes the entire is the subject of the tracker. It virtually made me wish for the old days when I logged workouts use a pen and paper at least then I could do it all in the moment.
It virtually made me wish for the old days when I logged workouts use a pen and paper at least then I could do it all in the moment.
There were two useful parts, though: I was able to check out how my heart rate changed in all areas of the workout, and the clock counting my active and rest time retain my tempo between situateds quicker than usual.
What’s my age again?
Outside the gym, the vvosmart 3 has a few extra tricks use Garmin’s heart rate monitor. The stress level tracking feature is useful for all wearers, based on heart rate variability( HRV ). Essentially, the machine will notice if your HRV killed up, and produces you through a guided breathing exercise to calm down, like the Apple Watch’s Breathe app.
The VO2 max score is more my hasten. It use your exercise data to approximation the maximum rate of oxygen you can eat during a workout whether you’re a serious athlete or just someone trying to get into shape, this is a good benchmark number to know to track your advancement. Like some of the other features, it takes some digging all over the Garmin Connect app to get to the VO2 section, hidden in the “Health and Performance” tab within the app.
I was happy with my VO2 max score, although I’d like to push it even higher through cardio develop. The “Fitness Age” read is a fun add-on, giving me a nice ego boost with a 20 -year-old estimate while I expend my periods IRL creaking around on ancient, 26 -year-old bones. If you’re curious about your own fitness age, you can get a less data-intensive read via the World Fitness Level.
The vvosmart 3 isn’t a bad wearable but there’s nothing here that induces it a clearly defined favorite over the tournament. The Garmin’s reasonable price and the range of activities it can handle make it worth checking out for well-rounded exercisers looking for a do-it-all tracker, but more casual gym-goers or high-level athletes will likely come away thwarted and disappointed.
Ultimately, the vvosmart 3’s usability issues overshadow its extra gym-going provides, constructing it a missed the possibilities for a truly outstanding, do-everything wearable.
Garmin vvosmart 3
Good for 24/7 wear Rep counting for the weight room VO2 max and stress control tools
Navigating on wrist is difficult Garmin Connect app is messy Inaccurate activity tracking
The Bottom Line
The vvosmart 3 boasts killer features for fitness fans looking to expand their activity tracking, but it doesn’t deliver on its potential.
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