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Can a watch improve your performance?

Published on 14/12/2016 00:00

#Garmin #735xt starstarstarstarstar

Heart rate monitors and GPS have always been a feature of triathlon training and competitions since my debut in this speciality 10 years ago. At that time, the predominant brand in the market was the Finnish brand Polar, but in the last few years, Garmin has earned a market share and is now the bestselling brand today. With its Forerunner 735XT, Garmin broke away from its usual multisport watch look, bringing a breath of fresh air to the scene.


Technical assessment

GPS Reception












My path with Garmin began in 2012 with the 910XT Triathlon watch, and I must say that it has given me great results for the past 4 years. It is quite reliable and offers very good information for analysing triathlon training and competitions. With the Garmin 735XT, the brand has taken a step forward with a lighter device that also provides more information, especially for running, practical swimming screens and improved real time speed accuracy when cycling.

First impressions:
When I started to wear the Forerunner 735XT, I noticed a significant difference compared to the 910XT.  It is far lighter, a bit smaller and feels as though you were wearing nothing on your wrist, which is very convenient when practising any of the 3 sports.

The workings of the watch are really intuitive and you can find the functions you are looking for easily, so that adjusting to it is really simple. It is still worth checking it out it to make the most of it, getting information such as the dynamics of the run or better heart rate accuracy when swimming.

Other aspects you will notice are the optical pulse sensor, which means you don’t always have to use the heart rate strap, although it is worth mentioning that it is not as accurate as the strap.

The 735XT also offers smartphone connectivity.
Other outstanding functions:
* Availability of accessories to measure cycling parameters such as potentiometers, cadence sensors, and speed.
* Can be configured for a large number of alerts for hydration, heart rate, nutrition & so on
* Can be programmed to schedule swimming training through Garmin Connect

Battery life depends on the activated functions. The results I got for battery life with my tests were as follows:
* 14 hours in optical heart rate and GPS mode (19 hours if the optical pulse sensor is turned off)
* 24 hours in Ultratrac mode and without optical heart rate
* 11 days in watch mode

The pack and my first few steps
The Forerunner 735XT in its Tri-bundle version comes with
*GPS Watch
* USB Charger
* HRM Triathlon Strap
* HRM Swim Strap
* Spare straps for both
* Quick Start Guide

The watch includes:
1.- Power on/off button, backlight
2.- Start, which is used to start and stop the timer and to confirm an option.
3.- Lap, to record a lap and to return to the previous screen.
4.- Up and down buttons to scroll through the data pages. 

As I said before, the watch is very intuitive and can be quickly configured by accessing the menu. You can choose from a large number of options that allow you to adjust the device to your liking, to make it more practical and efficient.

To start using the device in an activity, just press the "start" button and choose the sport you are going to do, whether outdoors or indoor. In the menu, there are 7 options for running, cycling, swimming and triathlon, but if you prefer you can set your own activity.

Once you have selected your activity, press "start" and the device will start recording data. When you finish, press the same button and decide whether you want to save them. Saved data can be retrieved at any time from the watch history or from Garmin Connect if you want to carry out a much more thorough analysis of the session.


Speed and accuracy of GPS/GLONASS signal, Altimeter and Barometer
Unlike some earlier models, the 735XT captures the satellite signal very quickly. The accuracy in measuring the distance is quite good although there is room for improvement, and this makes the watch quite reliable.

Supports Glonass, the altimeter depends on the GPS and this makes it lose precision, unlike other models that do have a barometer.

Custom Training
It is easy to schedule workouts directly on the watch, but in my opinion it is better to use Garmin Connect and synchronize them later, it is faster and more convenient.

If you program a workout, the device will set the warm-up time, the pace, and the recovery time. This frees you from thinking about what you are going to do and allows you to focus on the previously scheduled session.

The watch draws a tracking map after training, but does not offer the possibility of following routes.

Daily Activity Tracking
Sleep monitoring, so we can analyse whether we have slept softly, deeply or how many times we woke up. In addition, it also shows a graph with our movements during the night. This aspect is very important because sleep is the time when our body recovers and assimilates training. 

Counts the steps we take during the day and can set goals to encourage a more active lifestyle.

Sets the recommended recovery time depending on the intensity and duration of the activity.

Has a widget that sets the HR for the last 4 hours. It shows how our HR has changed during that time using a graph and also shows the minimum and maximum HR over this period of time.

Compatible Accessories
Some of the compatible accessories include the Garmin rear bike radar, the Vector power pedals and the cycling speed and cadence sensors. It is worth remembering that it also has ANT+ and Bluetooth support so it can also be compatible with most accessories that use this transmission system.

Garmin Connect is currently one of the best applications for analysing the data collected in your training or competitions. It allows you to perform a clear analysis of activities with a summary of the most important data, with a very complete app that has improved in the latest updates. 

Swimming Mode 
The 735XT has taken a step forward compared to the 910XT with regards to swimming, especially in 2 important aspects. The first one is the main swimming screen: when we finish the exercise, it allows us to see the interval training metres, the time used, recovery time and the summation of the interval + recovery time. This screen is perfect for doing quality sessions accurately, without the need to look at the pace clock on the pool wall.

On the other hand, the most relevant improvement is the heart rate strap made specifically for swimming. At the end of training, it allows you to obtain a good analysis of the session. The strap has to be tightly fastened, otherwise it will move and the data will not be not reliable. With the neoprene, the data is accurate. Another option is to use the trisuit so that it does not move. When doing the back stroke the strap moves more. 

Running Mode
Here the improvements are many compared to the 910XT. Firstly, I've noticed that real-time pacing is much more accurate in the 735XT, which helps to better regulate the pace in training and competition.

 On the other hand, the HRM-Run strap gives us running dynamics data that opens up many possibilities to find out where we tend to make mistakes and what we need to improve to make our run more efficient and economical. The ground contact time, the cadence, vertical ratio or stride length are values that we can analyse with Garmin Connect after our trainings. In addition, we can see a table of values to know if our data is correct or we have to improve it, it is very intuitive with a colour scale that facilitates their reading. In my case, I saw that I must improve my rhythm and vertical sway, so I will try to modify these values with technical exercises . 

 Cycling Mode
As in running mode, real time speed has been greatly improved, so it looks more like an odometer and you can see the speed you have reached at every moment.
In this sport, the functions have not changed much compared to the 910XT. We can see the maximum speed, average, altitude, time in movement, total, etc. 

An interesting thing for Strava lovers is that it allows you to connect to the app so that you can interact with it while you're training.

Triathlon Mode
As with the 910XT and 920XT models, we can set the clock depending on whether we are going to do a triathlon, a duathlon or an aquathlon. To change discipline we just have to press the lap button. It also gives us the option of including transitions or not.

Smartwatch mode
As mentioned earlier, the watch's Bluetooth technology allows you to receive notifications from the apps that you have on your mobile phone. You can also see who is calling you while you are training and decide whether to stop to answer the call or continue training. The watch allows you to read Whatsapp messages or receive alerts on your mobile.

User Profiles
Basically this watch is intended for triathletes and for runners who need a good analysis of their workouts and competitions. The HRM-Run strap allows you to get lots of running dynamics information that can help you improve aspects of your performance. Data such as rhythm, vertical sway, ground contact time, and stride length allow you to have a very clear idea of where you need to work on your running technique to improve your performance.

 If you are a triathlete, this watch will allow you to have lots of information on the 3 sports and analyse the mistakes in competition. It's a good multi-sport watch.

* Innovative design compared to Garmin's older multi-sport models, which used to be rectangular. The 735XT is round!
* Very light, making it comfortable to wear during a sporting activity.
* Optical pulse sensor, a good choice for people who feel a little anxious wearing the chest strap, although the chest strap is more accurate.
* Large enough display to see a lot of data during the activity.

* Limited battery life, 14 hours may not be enough for some athletes aiming to finish their first Ironman.
* Altitude is not accurate because the watch has no barometer. 


My height

1.76 m

My weight

67 kg

My clothing size


My birthplace

Catalunya (España)

El deporte es mi forma de vida, con la família, con los amigos y en el trabajo siempre está presente. Soy una persona constante y positiva y disfruto de cada entrenamiento corriendo, en bici o nadando. También me gusta la montaña y surfear en la nieve.

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