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How to customize workouts on Apple Watch in watchOS 9

Apple Watch Se Workout
Apple Watch Se Workout (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

The Apple Watch is a fitness device that many people rely on to track their activity and monitor their performance while they're working out. If that sounds like you, you'll be pleased to know that watchOS 9 brings a ton of customization options to the Workout app. Although it's still only available as a developer beta right now, when it debuts in the fall, you can check out these steps to guide you.

Whether you're excited to finally be able to see and track your heart rate zones or you're looking forward to all the different alerts you can set for different workout types, watchOS 9 has completely revamped the Workout app to give you more control. Here's how to customize workouts on Apple Watch in watchOS 9:

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas (opens in new tab). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

Note: For all the examples below, I'm using the Outdoor Run workout as my example because it should have the majority of options you can adjust; however, not all workouts have the exact same options.

How to switch your workout goal in the Workout app on Apple Watch

By default, when you just tap on a workout in the Workout app on Apple Watch, it will be an Open Goal workout. That means that the workout doesn't have a particular goal you're trying to achieve. You're just tracking your activity until you tell your watch to stop. Most workouts have a few options if you'd prefer a specific goal. Here's how to change the goal of a workout.

  1. Launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the settings button on the workout you want. It's the three dots (...) icon.
  3. Tap the workout goal you want. Your options may include:
    • Time: A workout that will end when you reach the time set.
    • Calories: A workout that will end when you reach the number of calories burned set.
    • Distance: A workout that will end when you reach the distance set.
    • Pace: A workout that specifically tracks the pace set.

How to adjust your workouts goals in the Workout app on Apple Watch

Each of these different workout goals can also be adjusted. For example, you can set the amount of time you want for your time goal workout. Or, for a calorie workout, you can set the number of calories you want to burn.

  1. Launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the settings button on the workout you want. It's the three dots (...) icon.
  3. Tap the edit button on the workout goal you want to adjust. It's the little pencil icon.
  4. Tap the goal. So time for a time goal workout, calories for a calorie goal workout, etc.
  5. Adjust the goal using the Digital Crown to your liking.

How to add alerts to your workouts in the Workout app on Apple Watch

If you want your Apple Watch to alert you during your workout to specific conditions, you can. For example, you can tell your Apple Watch to alert you when your heart rate reaches a certain level or when your running power is in a certain range. You can also set these alerts for each specific type of workout goal. So if you want pace alerts in an Open Goal workout but heart rate alerts during a Time Goal workout, you can do just that.

  1. Launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the settings button on the workout you want. It's the three dots (...) icon.
  3. Tap the edit button on the workout type you want alerts. It's the little pencil icon.
  4. Tap Alerts.
  5. Tap the alert type you want.
  6. Adjust the alerts to your liking.

Depending on the workout you've selected and which workout goal you're customizing, you will have different options available to you.

How to show or hide different Workout Views in the Workout app on your Apple Watch

Workout Views are a new feature in watchOS 9 that allows you to choose which information is available on your screen when you're in the middle of a workout. Of course, you can have multiple views enabled, which means you just have to swipe through them when you're actually in a workout, but more on that later. Here's how to show or hide Workout Views.

  1. Launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the settings button on the workout you want. It's the three dots (...) icon.
  3. Tap the edit button on the workout type you want alerts. It's the little pencil icon.
  4. Tap Workout Views.
  5. Tap the On/Off switch for the workout views you want. If the switch is green you'll be able to see that view, if it's gray, you won't.

As you can see, this is where you'll be able to see your heart rate zones when you're doing a workout. You'll need to enable that view.

How to see your Workout Views during a workout on Apple Watch

As mentioned above, once you've enabled the Workout Views you want to see, you'll be able to switch between them during a workout.

  1. Launch the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Start the workout you want.
  3. Swipe up or downto toggle through your Workout Views.

Much more customization on Apple watch

As you can see, your best Apple Watch is going to get a massive upgrade to the Workout app once watchOS 9 launches in the fall. Plus, don't forget you can also create custom workouts in watchOS 9, so you have even more flexibility!

This is only part of the changes we've seen so far in the first beta, but there are more features we will likely uncover as the beta continues to roll on. Be sure to check back on iMore for further updates as we get closer to the exciting release.

Luke Filipowicz
Luke Filipowicz

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.