If you’re like me, you’ve probably gotten away with ignoring a core feature of the Fitness app on your Apple Watch.
I avoided this feature like the plague for several months, mostly because I wanted my fitness to be my own. I don’t like to grind or compete, and enjoyed the peace of keeping my physical health between me and my watch.
Well, that all changed over the recent holiday when family and friends finally noticed the yellow band strapped around my wrist. Immediately, requests to compete came in.
So for the last few weeks, I’ve been participating in Apple Watch activity competitions.
Here’s everything I’ve learned.
What are Apple Watch competitions?
Apple Watch competitions (also known as Activity Competitions) are weekly competitions you can participate in with people you share your Apple Watch activity with. Each person gets a score, which grows until the end of the week, at which point a winner is declared.
And that’s about all there is to it! The more you close your rings, the higher your score will be. This (in theory) motivates both parties to one-up each other. Of course, if you aren’t someone who finds competition motivating (for some, it does just the opposite) then don’t let it get in the way of your fitness.
Throughout the week, you’ll receive notifications when your competitor completes a workout or closes a ring. You can even view basic information from their workouts, like how long they lasted and how much distance they traveled.
How Apple Watch competition scores are calculated
If you’ve used Apple Watch activity competitions, then you might be as confused by the scoring system as I was. After all, the watch doesn’t explain this when you start, so the number can seem kind of vague at first.
You get a point for every percentage you earn on each of your rings. If you close one ring (100%), then you get 100 points. If you close all three, you get 300 points.
You can, of course, go past 100% on each of your rings. Say you exercise for an hour or stand for fourteen different hours. Well, this extra percentage is added to your score, up to 200%.
That means you can get a daily score of 600 if you get 200% on all of your rings. This would require that you stand for every hour of the day, even while sleeping, so I recommend not doing this.
In other words, the maximum score you can receive is 4,200. If you 100% all three rings each day, you’ll receive 2,100 points at the end of the week.
How to start an Apple Watch competition
Starting an Apple Watch activity competition is simple. On your Apple Watch, open the Activity app, swipe to the right, and tap Invite a Friend. This will pull up your list of contacts. Whoever you tap will receive an invite to share their activity with you.
Bear in mind, users who don’t own an Apple Watch won’t have any activity to share; you’ll just see 0% shared day after day. Also, this doesn’t mean you’re inviting them to compete – you’re just inviting them to share their activity with you.
Once they accept your invitation, you can then tap on their name from the Sharing screen of the activity app and invite them to start a competition with you. The competition will begin Sunday morning at 12:00am and end Saturday night at 11:59pm.
How to end an Apple Watch competition
For whatever reason, you’ve changed your mind – maybe you’re just too good to compete with your friend. We’ve all been there.
Sadly, Apple doesn’t care about your altruism. Once you start a competition, there’s no way to forfeit. You do have a few alternatives, however.
First, you can hide your activity. Your score will still be visible to your competitor, but they won’t be able to see how many calories you’ve burned, how much you’ve exercised, or how many hours you stood for. To do this, tap your opponent’s name from the Sharing screen of the Activity app on Apple Watch, scroll down, and tap Hide my Activity.
Second, if you just want to forget the competition exists, you can mute notifications. This will stop your Apple Watch from reminding you that you’re competing or sending you notifications when your opponent completes a ring. To do this, tap Mute Notifications on the same screen as before.
Thirdly and lastly, you can brute force the competition to end by removing your opponent as a friend. This means you’ll have to add them again later if you want to share activity some more.
How to win Apple Watch activity competitions consistently
Let’s say you’re not feeling so altruistic. Let’s say you want to win, crushingly, week after week. Here are some tips.
The Move ring
In my experience, the Move ring is the most fickle in Apple Watch competitions. That’s because the goal is going to be different for each user.
For instance, the family member who challenged me keeps theirs set to 1,000 calories each day, and they hit that goal every day. I, on the other hand, keep mine around 400 and have only recently started closing that ring every day.
How many calories each competitor burns, however, doesn’t matter. It’s the percent that matters. If this same family member lowered their goal to 400 with me, they’d be wiping the floor with me.
I also think the Move ring is the hardest to close for most people. My advice: Consistently get to 100% each day, but don’t make this the focus of your attack. It’s too finicky and inconsistent across competitors.
The Exercise ring
On the flip side, we have the Exercise ring, which is arguably the easiest to close. It just requires discipline. But by using just one hour of your day, you can close your Exercise ring to 200%, earning you 200 points per day. That’s a guaranteed win against all but the most athletic opponent.
My advice here would be to do a standard thirty-minute workout first thing in the morning. Then, if you find the time, squeeze in additional five- and ten-minute workouts as you go. You’ll quickly boost your score and get in great shape while doing so.
I like to think of this ring as the Tetris of Apple Watch competitions. They come out of nowhere and quickly close (or create) gaps in points.
The Stand ring
I imagine that most users overlook the Stand ring in competitions. They close it and move on. However, every hour that you stand is an additional 8 points. If you stand for sixteen hours (every hour that you’re awake) you’ll earn 128 points each day, or 896 points per week.
If your opponent is ignoring this ring (and they likely are) then you can sneak in a substantial amount of points without them realizing. And you get these points for doing next to nothing. Get up, grab a glass of water when your Apple Watch pings you to move, and you’ll snag an easy 8 points.
These are the free throws. Don’t miss them!
Snag easy points and don’t underestimate your opponent
Your daily workout and Stand ring are super easy to squeeze in. In trying to close my Exercise ring daily, I’ve found that doing it as early in the day as possible is a must. It ensures I don’t waste that time on YouTube. If I skip it in the morning, I’ll probably skip it in the evening, too.
Also, don’t underestimate your competitor! They might be reading the same article you are. It’s happened on several days now where I was ahead, when suddenly my challenger squeezed in an hour-long workout right before bed. Don’t assume you’re going to win.
Not to mention that the score you see might not be real-time. Maybe your competitor is away from their phone while working out. Or maybe they have Airplane Mode turned on. These types of things can cause spikes in points that you aren’t expecting.
Pay close attention, have fun, close your rings, and stay fit!