What is Endurance Score on your Garmin watch, and how can you improve it?

Woman checking sports watch and phone after workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Endurance Score is a relatively new addition to Garmin's collection of fitness-tracking metrics, and an interesting one. It began arriving on the company's higher end GPS watches last summer, and is designed to give an idea of your ability to sustain long efforts. Unlike some other fitness scores, it's calculated using data from all activities that track your heart rate, not just running and/or cycling.

You'll find your Endurance score by scrolling through the Glances on your Garmin Watch, or by opening the Garmin Connect app on your phone, and selecting Performance Stats from the main menu. Provided your watch supports it, you'll see your Endurance Score as a number together with a one-word rating: recreational, intermediate, trained, well-trained, expert, superior, or elite.

Your Endurance Score will correlate with a different rating depending on your age and gender, as defined in a pair of tables on Garmin's website. For example, mine is currently 5,789, which is classified as well-trained for a woman in her late 30s, but would be only intermediate if I was a man, and would be elite if I was over 65.

The score is calculated every week, and over time you'll be able to see the changes your training has on your ability to sustain long efforts.

How is Endurance Score calculated?

Endurance Score is a bit different to VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during aerobic activity. This forms part of the calculation, but Endurance Score also factors in your recent activity history – particularly when it comes to long efforts.

Garmin explains that "the goal of this analysis is to account for both how challenging your training has been and the degree to which your activities likely contributed to the development of fatigue resistance and the capacity to perform sustained efforts."

It takes a long time to build up endurance (as anyone training for a marathon or ultra will testify), but the peak benefits can be lost quite quickly. Your endurance score is intended to represent your ability to perform right now, and therefore factors in long- and short-term data. Long term data comes from the last two or three months, while short term stats are from the last fortnight.

How to improve your endurance score

You can improve your endurance score by increasing your VO2 max (through high-intensity workouts with adequate recovery in between), and increasing the length and frequency of your long efforts. It takes time, but eventually you will see results, particularly if you are following a structured training plan that balances long, sustained workouts with shorter, more intense ones.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.