If you like to train with specific workouts and have a newer Garmin Edge computer (Edge 520, 820 or 1000), then TrainingPeaks' relatively new Garmin Connect IQ app may be of interest.
The TrainingPeaks app automatically uploads the day's workout to the user's Edge, and then Garmin's color-coded formatting takes over to walk the rider through the intervals.
Garmin is now big enough — and its users have such a diverse set of interests — that the American company has opened its platform to third-party developers to build apps for its platform. These are called Connects IQ apps and can be found and downloaded at apps.garmin.com.
How TrainingPeaks Connect IQ app works
I have tested this for a few workouts and the functionality is pretty straightforward.
For power-based workouts, you can preview what's ahead before you begin. Then, the screen shows you a color-coded range, left-to-right, of the target power, with an arrow and the actual power number of what you are producing. A big timer counts down the interval and a small line of text at the top tells you the duration and power range for the next interval.
You can advance at any time through the intervals by hitting the lap button.
In order to get to this functionality, though, there are a few hurdles.
The TrainingPeaks app is free, but only works if you are already a TrainingPeaks customer and have a Garmin Edge 520, 820 or 1000.
The app only shows that day's workout that you have on TrainingPeaks. It operates on the assumption that you are dutifully following a plan.
The workout has to be built using TrainingPeaks' workout builder, which is a pretty easy-to-use system that operates on text input or click and drag graphics.
Finally, you have to have a smartphone with the TrainingPeaks and Garmin Connect apps paired to your Garmin Edge. This is how the daily workout shows up without having to physically connect the Edge to a computer.
Why this matters
While this Connect IQ app is fairly limited in terms of who will use it, it does represent the next step forward in interaction among hardware companies, software companies and bike riders.
Strava and Garmin were once very separate entities — Garmin initially asked its sponsored racers not to use Strava — but now Strava Live on Garmin Edge computers is a selling point for both.
There are potential pitfalls for third-party apps. For instance, I loaded a BSX Insight Connect IQ app onto an Edge 520 and it screwed up my heart-rate and power data for regular rides.
Point being, when multiple companies share technology, things can fall through the cracks.
Ultimately, though, we have seen that cyclists enjoy ease of use in transporting data.
For example, wireless uploads of rides from your Garmin to Strava make plugging the bike computer into the laptop and then clicking around in various folders and websites seem pretty outdated.
Similarly, Wahoo has garnered interest in pushing data the other direction: routes can be automatically populated on its Elemnt and Elemnt Bolt computers.
In terms of doing workouts on the bike, Garmin and other bike computer makers do have various workout features already. In some cases, you can create a workout on the bike computer itself, which is a little clunky.
With Garmin, you can also create intervals sessions in Garmin Connect (or TrainingPeaks), and then plug in the Edge, and drag and drop the file into the Workouts folder.