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How to start a workout on the Apple Watch

From Pilates to HIIT, swimming to cooldown, here's how to pick a workout on the Apple Watch.

Published onJuly 29, 2022

If you’ve picked the Apple Watch as your primary health tracking device, you’ve made an excellent choice. It’s well regarded by us as one of the best smartwatches, running watches, and heart rate monitors you can buy. But if you just purchased an Apple Watch and haven’t quite figured out how to initiate a workout, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll explain how you can start a workout on the Apple Watch.


To start a Workout on the Apple Watch, open the Workout app and select the most appropriate workout for your activity. Set your goals, then start your workout.


How to start a workout on the Apple Watch

apple watch workout 1

The Apple Watch’s workout modes live in the appropriately named Workout app. This app will let you start a workout, track your progress, pause your workout, or receive reminders.

Start a workout

  • Find and open the Workout app on the Apple Watch.
  • Browse the list of workout types and pick one that best suits your planned activity.
  • Next, set a goal for your workout. You can set a calorie burn goal, exercise duration goal, and more here.
  • The Apple Watch will initiate a three-second countdown after this step. You can choose to skip the countdown by tapping the display.
  • Finally, start your workout.

If you’ve already started your workout, don’t worry. The Apple Watch will remind you to start a workout if it detects strenuous activity. You’ll also be reminded to end a workout.

Add additional workouts to your session

The Apple Watch also lets you add an additional workout to your session. Open the Workout app once more, swipe right, and tap the New (+) button.

apple watch workout 2

View and edit workout metrics

During your workout, you can track your progress by raising your wrist. Use the digital crown to highlight a specific metric, be it heart rate, total exercise duration, or distance. Notably, you can change which metrics are displayed here too.

  • Open your iPhone’s Watch app.
  • Tap on the My Watch tab.
  • Select Workout, then Workout View.
  • Select a workout and tap Edit.
  • Tap the red minus button to remove a metric, or the green plus button to add a metric. You can have up to five metrics per workout.

Workout controls

The Apple Watch has several workout controls. You can access these by swiping right on the workout screen. Press the End (red X) button to end the workout, tap the Pause button to pause a session, or tap the Lock (water drop) icon to disable screen taps. The latter is perfect for swimmers. Reactivate screen touches by turning the digital crown.

See also: The best fitness trackers you can buy

Which workouts and activities are supported?

An image of the Apple Watch Series 7 on a wrist showing a cycling workout in progress
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Apple Watch tracks several common and specialized activities. Find the full list below.

  • Cooldown
  • Core Training
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical
  • Dance
  • Functional Strength Training
  • HIIT
  • Hiking
  • Pilates
  • Rowing
  • Running
  • Stair Stepping
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi
  • Walking
  • Wheelchair
  • Yoga
  • Other


The Apple Watch Workout app has an activity dubbed “Other.” Users unsure of their activity, or who can’t find a suitable match, can select this workout type.

It uses several data sources, from the accelerometer to track speed and movement, heart rate sensor to track overall exertion on the body, and GPS to monitor distance.

Yes. The Apple Watch supports a host of popular workout apps, from Strava to MyFitnessPal, and more.

You may need to adjust your Apple Watch’s activity goals if you find that you’re unable to close your exercise ring after a workout that you found fairly difficult. On the other hand, you may just have to add a few more minutes to that workout to close that ring!

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