Most fitness trackers are known to track the basics such as steps taken, calories burnt and heart rate. Recently, I’ve started to get more into lifting weights whilst at the gym. People don’t realise it’s a great way to add an extra dimension to your workout. It’s not all about bulking up it can also help with losing weight and boosting your metabolism.
Keen to track my new found weight training workout I looked at my fitness tracker and noticed it had a weight option. Turns out that this simply allowed me to set a goal where I could simply track time or calories. I was after something a little more advanced where I could track my reps and weights lifted which got me thinking is there a fitness tracker that is suitable for weightlifting.
We’ve taken a look at fitness trackers that are currently on the market to see which is the best when you are doing functional training, crossfit or weight lifting.
There are really 2 different routes to take when looking at the features you need to look for in a fitness tracker for weightlifting.
1. Tracking the weightlifting exercises
If you’re fed up of carrying around your pen an paper you will want to look for trackers that come with at least some of the following features:
- automatic counting of number of reps
- tracking of weight lifted
- ability to create custom routines
- ability to learn exercises
2. Tracking your heart rate and calories burnt
Alernatively, you might not be interested in tracking information about the weights specifically but more how much of an impact your weight training had on your overall session. For this you would look for some of the following features:-
- Real-time Heart Rate Monitoring and calorie tracking
- Ability to pair with a chest strap heart rate monitor
- Compatibility with weight training apps on the tracker itself
Fitness tracker manufacturers have found the tracking of weightlifting a hard nut to crack. There have been a few attempts at trying to automatically track weights with devices such as the Atlas Wearables WristBand, Push Armband and GymWatch but the reviews are mixed about their ability to do it accurately.
It seems at the moment that the ability to accurately and consistently identify a rep is not quite there.
Advances in machine learning and big data helping the trackers identify the exercises from a large data set probably mean we are not too far away. Atlas are in the process of developing a new tracker the Atlas Multi Trainer which is the next iteration in this direction.
Aside from reps another potentially useful metric to track during your weights session is heart rate.
Most modern day fitness trackers use wrist based optical heart rate monitors. The nature of the exercises you do during a weights session it is all too easy for the watch to move around your wrist and lose the heart rate tracking – which somewhat negates its effectiveness.
In this case, you are best pairing your ANT+ compatible fitness tracker such as a Garmin Vivosmart 3 with a chest strap heart rate monitor which will give you both a reliable heart rate source and more accurate reading of calories burnt during your workout.
Weightlifting specific fitness trackers that attach to the barbell
In the area of strength and conditioning there has also been a lot of research into velocity based training. Indeed, some fitness tracker manufacturers have created fitness trackers that attach directly to the barbell such as the Bar Sensei (video below) and Gymaware
Fitness trackers that track weightlifting
Garmin Vivosmart 3
In the area of normal fitness trackers we think that the Garmin Vivosmart 3 is the best out there currently. As in the video below it has the ability to track reps on the watch, however as previously mentioned this can be hit or miss.
Fitness trackers with weightlifting apps
Samsung Galaxy / WearOS watches and GymRun
GymRun is predominantly a mobile phone app which allows you to track your weightlifting workouts.
However, if you own a Samsung Galaxy Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active you can download the GymRun app from the Samsung App Store. The app is also available for WearOS devices but typically the development lags a little behind the Samsung watches. The GymRun app is available in two versions:-
- Companion Version requires you to have a constant bluetooth connection to your smartphone.
- Standalone Version doesn’t need your phone during the workout and allows you to sync your data from / to your watch before and after your workout. This version does come at a price. It is around $14 to buy the optional extra feature package.
With GymRun you will be able to create your own routine and input the weight and reps you are going for. This will then transfer to your phone with a rest timer to help you recover appropriately between sets.
Once you start your workout you can enter the number or reps and weight completed directly on your watch with a summary of your workout shown after you finish.
Best fitness tracker for weightlifting
We tried to be as exhaustive as possible in putting this together but if you know of one that is great at tracking your weights sessions drop us a line and we will look to include it.