When you’re lifting weights, you usually want to do a set of the exercise, rest a minute or two, and then do another. While you can gauge this by feel (just go when you feel ready), a timer can be helpful. It turns out the Apple Watch’s Segments feature can do this with a simple double-tap.
Let’s talk rest times. The optimal rest time depends on the type of workout. If you’re doing lightweight exercises that are meant to quickly follow one another, you might only rest 30 seconds between sets. On the other end of that spectrum, if you’re lifting a heavy weight, you may want to wait 3-5 minutes between sets (maybe even a bit more before attempting a personal record).
If you’re impatient, you may be tempted to do the next set too soon. Setting a timer for a minimum (say, two minutes) can remind you to sit your ass back down if it hasn’t been long enough. Or maybe you need the opposite: a timer that you can use to say, oops, it’s been five minutes already—time to get back to work.
How to use Apple Watch Segments to time your rests
The Apple Watch’s Segments feature is an under-utilized gem, as the r/AppleWatchFitness subreddit is always quick to remind me. I recently came across a tip for using Segments to time rests, from u/Cultural_Rock6281, and it’s a good one. It does, of course, require you to use the Workout app and to start a Workout when you start your real life workout, but once you’re going, you just double-tap the screen to start a new segment.
Your overall workout timer will keep going, but then—if you have your views set correctly—you also get a segment timer that starts from zero as of the double-tap. This is most often used to mark sections of a running workout, like marking a segment every time you complete a lap around the track, but it will serve you as nicely when timing your sets.
To set a rest timer, double-tap the screen either before or after each exercise. (I recommend doing it before, since it’s common to finish an exercise in a state of mind that may lead you to forget to start a timer.)
But first, you’ll want to make sure your watch is set to show you segment times. Here’s how to turn on that view:
- Select the type of workout you want to do (probably Traditional Strength Training)
- Tap the three dots button
- Tap the pencil icon on the “open” workout (or whichever you plan to do)
- Tap “workout views” and then “edit views”
- Turn on one of the views that includes the segment timer, such as “Metrics 2.”
- Start your workout.
- Turn the crown to access the view with the segment timer.
And then, as you’re working out:
- When you begin your exercise, double tap to start a new segment.
- Look at your wrist when you think it’s time to go again. (Remember that the exercise itself probably took about 30 seconds, so it will say 2:30 when you’ve been resting two minutes.)
- Ready? Double-tap to start a new segment and begin your workout.
If you are truly on top of things, you can choose to start new segments when you start and end your exercise. Or you might prefer to only start the segment when you finish the exercise and begin your rest period. Your call. (For more on the things you can do with Apple Watch Segments, check out our guide here.)