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COROS announced yesterday new features for its watches, which will be available in almost all of its range over the next week. Specifically, it will reach the APEX, APEX Pro and VERTIX. The only one left out of the update is the PACE, probably due to lack of processing power when it comes to managing these novelties.
To summarize briefly, COROS will add to its watches the possibility of conducting structured training. These workouts will be created in the app and comprise four different sports: running, cycling, swimming and strength training.
While the workouts of those first three sports offer everything we can expect and there is nothing excessively new, where there are very interesting things is in strength training.
I will start the specific part of strength training and the interesting things that it includes, and after it I'll detail the running/cycling/swimming workouts.
As I said, this update will not reach the watches until next week, but I have been with the beta version for a while so I have had the opportunity to try out the news and what it specifically includes.
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I´ll start with strength training because, although you're probably not going to use them as much as the running/cycling/swimming intervals, it's where COROS has given more thought to prepare an interesting proposal.
Workouts are configured through the COROS app. To do this we select the option “My training”, and we will see the screen where our workouts would be saved on the watch.
Well, we select “Add training”, and here we will find our past workouts, and the possibility to create a new one. Clicking on creating a new one will open a section at the bottom of the screen where we must select the sport.
Well, you remember that so far I've differentiated between the workouts that appear on the first screen, those that are loaded on the watch, and those that appear on the second screen, which are the ones that you've created.
I make this differentiation because the watch allows you to have 20 workouts in memory, which you can manage as you please. You can delete workouts from the first screen and they will be removed from the watch (indicating the remaining space on the screen itself). But that workout will still be available within your collection, so you can add it again at a later time if you need it. So remember the differentiation between your workout library and the workouts you have stored on your watch .
In the picture you can see that right now I have 2 workouts on the watch and I can load 18 more. If I swipe from right to left I would remove it from the watch memory leaving room for 19 more, but I could reload it if I select it on the “Add Workout” screen.
All this configuration is the same for creating strength workouts (those that correspond to this section) as for running/cycling/swimming.
As for strength training goes, it is not something entirely new in itself. We have already seen it one way or another before. Fitbit has been offering it on its platform for some time, just as Garmin has recently added it with Vivoactive 4 or Venu (and later on on other models).
However, where COROS has gone a step further is in the selection of exercises and on the heat map.
When adding an exercise, a screen will be presented where you can select warm-up, exercises, cooling, etc.
Where the interesting parts start is when it comes to adding strength exercises.
The app has a fairly generous database from which to choose exercises. We can filter by muscle group (chest, back, arms...) or by muscle to work (abdominal, quadriceps, trapezius...), equipment (dumbbell, bars, ropes...).
It's great because it helps you to perform the training in a thousand different ways, or even filter exercises according to the material you have at home. For example, if you only have dumbbells, you can see exercises only involving them.
Selecting any exercise will open a screen with a small animation at the top, and a description of the exercise (currently in English only).
If we add any of these exercises we can select number of repetitions, kgs to use and how many sets we will perform (for example, 5 sets of 14 repetitions with 12kg of weight).
As you create the workout, you will be able to graphically see which muscle groups we are going to use.
Once the workout has been created, you can automatically sync it to the watch. It is done in seconds because you are simply sending the training file, not doing a full synchronization.
On the watch there is a new training menu, which at the moment is called “Formación” (Google translation for “Training”).
I have already reported the bug to COROS, I hope they will resolve it before the final release to watches...
Within this option we find the workouts that we have synchronized. In my case, one for push-ups and another with 300m intervals.
Before performing a workout we can see the different steps to perform. For example in this case, 4 sets of 15 push-ups with 30 seconds of rest between each series.
When performing the exercise it will only show the name, but not any kind of animation remembering what we need to do, so you must know what you are doing.
There is a small problem, and that is that while the watch is recording a workout it does not allow access to its options, so we could not enter the training we are doing to be able to check which exercise we have to perform and which movements included. Undoubtedly, something important that COROS should take into account.
Once the training has started, a specific screen will be displayed. Depending on the exercise the watch will be able to count reps or not.
In the case of this push-ups, it counted the 15 correctly. In another type of exercise it will depend on the technique used or what the specific exercise is. Obviously if we carry the watch on our left wrist and we're doing right biceps exercises... then it won't be able to register them. And it won't do it for leg exercises either. But we can move on to the next interval or break, once the exercise is over, simply by pressing the “Lap” button.
But do you know what the coolest part of all this is? That as you are doing strength training, you will be able to see which muscle groups you have been working the most. Times, repetitions, series, dates when you worked out, etc.
In this sample image from COROS you can see what the result would be after having been performing strength training for a month.
The truth is, I love this last part. When we do strength exercises we always try to perform them to focus on certain muscle groups, but without overloading them. We can have perspective on the work we've done in several days, even the whole week. But being able to see it with the perspective of up to 6 months represented graphically is fantastic, as well as novel.
The only downside to all this is the above mentioned, the watch does not provide any information about the exercise while we are doing it and we do not have the possibility to enter the workout to review the exercises while we are performing them.
Strength training, without pre-designing them
We can do all the above if we want or have time, but it is not necessary and we can “fly free”.
There is another sport profile available, Strength, that we can use for this type of training. We can select parts of the body that we are going to train so that it is later referenced in the activity.
Once selected the part of the body to train (chest for example) we start with the first series. The watch will count the reps, and when we have completed the first series simply press the lap button to move on to the break. And so until the exercise is over.
However, it is possible to create, share or receive from other users or coaches a fit file with the workout we have to do, so you don't always have to design your own.
Interval workouts for running, cycling and swimming
Running/cycling/swimming workouts are simply what we can expect from such a workout, unlike strength workouts there is nothing new. However, it is to be appreciated that COROS has added this option, because it is certainly a great help when it comes to performing phased training.
The procedure of creating a workout is exactly the same as I have detailed above, simply in this case we have to select the sport we are going to perform. For this example I will use run.
We can select warm-up, training and cooling periods with typical time or distance targets. For intensity it is possible to choose from pace or heart rate (by zone or manual selection). And lastly the number of intervals to be made.
When selecting the intensity for pace, it is difficult to do it at first because instead of selecting in the traditional range from fastest to slower (i.e. from 3'30” to 4'30” ) we have to do it from slower to faster (using the same example, from 4'30” to 3'30”).
This is the other way around how all other manufacturers do, so when the app doesn't stop throwing you error messages, it's hard to realize that that's why.
On the watch, after selecting the training in the same “Training” menu, there will also be the running/ride/swimming workouts we create from here.
By choosing it you will be able to start the workout, or see the different phases in the same way that was done with the strength training. And when it's already started, a new training screen is added with the relevant data.
The watch will go through the different stages of the workout automatically according to the time or distance, or by pressing the lap button.
That is, as I indicated at the beginning of this section, all quite standard and without any surprise neither positive nor negative.
The road to follow
It seems that COROS has found it's track and they are going full gas. It's not about presenting functions exactly the same as those of the competition, you have to complete the software of your device by giving it a twist and thinking about how you can do something that's new, or that's cool. They already did it a few months ago with the specific mode for track, and so far no one has copied it.
COROS has done so, because it has taken on general ideas that others had developed before and gave it its personal touch by improving it. And talking specifically about strength training, they made some cool things.
Some things are a little edgy? Of course, at the moment it is still a beta (although very close to the actual release), but it is the way forward.
COROS is becoming a serious rival for traditional industry manufacturers (Garmin, Polar and Suunto). And in fact Suunto is being overtaken without them noticing it. They still have other issues to solve, such as access to a distribution network established after years of relationships, a consolidated brand image among the general public, or a pricing policy that works for China or the USA, but not for Europe.
But I have no doubt that they are on the right track, and when they know how to solve these small problems they will be a very serious contender in the market.
And with that... thanks for reading!