Polar Watch’s Built-In ‘Performance Tests’ Give Leg Up on the Competition
Three new benchmark tests offer data to inform your progress toward fitness goals and athletic recovery. It’s like having a trainer on your wrist.
Polar’s latest watch, the Vantage V2, can run fitness metric tests right from your watch, so you can view your stats on the go. These benchmark tests integrate with existing Polar tests to assess your overall performance and can update your values via the Polar Flow app on your phone.
You should always listen to your body. Fatigue can come from life stresses or lack of sleep, not just yesterday’s workout. Yet, if you’ve exercised for a while, you know it’s easy for training to slip into a squishy middle ground where different workouts start to resemble each other too closely. That’s where using cold, hard data can help.
Performance data can gauge your conditioning, inform a training plan, and help you measure long-term progress. Having these tests as part of the same watch you use to track workouts can serve as a reminder of your goals and help hold yourself accountable.
Polar Vantage V2 Smartwatch Fitness Tests
Polar’s performance tests run on the multisport Vantage V2 watch the same way you would log workout data. The test results are stored with this data, and they can be accessed via the Polar Flow web portal for more long-term evaluations and planning.
Leg Recovery Test
If you’ve tried to do box jumps a day after a hill workout, you’re familiar with the soreness of legs that aren’t fully recovered. In fact, that type of soreness can last a few days, but it shouldn’t deter you from a run or another, different workout the following day. Training on tired legs can be part of the plan.
Beyond evaluating how your legs feel, some quantifiable data can help assess your recovery progress. That’s where Polar’s leg recovery test comes in.
Scroll to the Test menu, select Leg Recovery, and it will guide you through three squat-jumps on cue. Keep your hands on your hips and complete the jumps when prompted.
The watch then compares your current measurements to your baseline. Jumping higher means you’re ready for more; jumping lower means you could use a less taxing workout.
The watch takes into account the last 28 days’ worth of data, so taking the test weekly offers more insight. Additionally, the Leg Recovery Test works with other data, like cardio recovery, without the need for added equipment. It’s a simple bodyweight test, easy for beginners, and available at any time from your wrist.
Cycling Performance Test
Cyclists have a reputation for being data junkies, tracking things like watts per kilogram (W/kg), VO2 max, and training zones that shift several times over the course of a season. They commonly use a baseline test to find their functional threshold power (FTP), which is essentially the sustained power a cyclist can produce for an hour, expressed in watts.
By running the Cycling Performance Test through Polar’s Vantage V2 (which requires a separate power sensor on your bike), you’ll get your power measurement, max heart rate, and a VO2 max estimate. Polar can also estimate that power with 20-, 30-, and 40-minute tests.
After the test, your cycling power zones can automatically update based on the new FTP results through the Polar Flow phone app. The five power zones range from 60% to 69% for zone 1 to anything greater than 100% for zone 5.
Your fitness will rise and fall over a cycling season, and gains in one area may come at the expense of another. For example, a spike increase in power output (sprints!) may come at the expense of endurance (century ride).
Adjusting your training zones helps you better target workout and recovery rides by staying over or under a certain threshold during a ride. Again, you’re staying out of that squishy middle.
It’s worth noting that you should use a similar route, if not the same route, to run these tests. Another option is to use an indoor trainer, which may already have a power sensor.
Running Performance Test
Similar to cyclists, runners can benefit from knowing their heart rate, speed, and power zones. Polar’s Running Performance Test is based on the University of Montreal track test study from 1980 and is physically demanding. You have to run at least 85% of your max effort for 6 minutes.
Before taking the test, you should familiarize yourself with what that feels like. Then, you’ll come up with an initial speed that you’ll use on your benchmark run. You’ll have to perform on the testing day because if you stop or run too slow for 10 seconds, the test stops. That’s one reason you’ll want to use a track or course that’s free of any stops.
The Running Performance Test begins with a warmup. Then, once you hit the established initial speed, it’s go time.
From there, the watch screen will display a steadily increasing pace above your current pace. The bottom of the screen will display your current heart rate along with the target heart rates for hitting the required 85% (submaximal test) or your maximum (maximal, all-out test).
If you do max out on this test, only light runs should precede it. The results are more accurate in a maximal test, but it’s also considerably more taxing. Accordingly, the test should only be run every 3 months.
Afterward, you’ll have measures of your aerobic capacity and metabolism, and your VO2 max. These benchmarks will gauge your long-distance performance and help you set realistic (achievable) goals. These numbers can help you set a pace on flats or hilly terrain for future races or training sessions.
The Polar Vantage V2 sports watch lets you check in with your actual performance over time, not just your most recent workouts. From working out to failure or doing a simple series of squat-jumps, these tests can keep you focused on your goals by showing how close you are and telling you when to take it easy.
Each test is there, waiting for you when you need them under the Testing menu, and the results cross over to existing Polar tests. You can access these through the Polar Flow app or web portal.
The Vantage V2 also comes in a lightweight aluminum frame, can run for 40 hours of continuous training on one charge, and has route-planning and music features. Check out the Vantage V2 yourself to see more of what it can do, and what its new tests can do for your training.