Pairing a Garmin Watch with Zwift for Heart Rate Tracking

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Written By James Quilter

Passionate cyclist and content creator

Garmin Overview

If you’re currently on your bike and pondering whether you can link your Garmin smartwatch to Zwift by glancing at your wrist, continue reading.

We have the answer.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a versatile smartwatch with a range of features, including fitness tracking, GPS navigation, and the ability to monitor heart rate directly from the wrist. This makes it an ideal companion for those who prefer to exercise without additional heart rate straps or sensors.

Note: this method will work for most Garmin watches.

Personal view – I hate putting HRM straps on around my chest. They always slide down my midrift.

For cyclists and indoor training enthusiasts, pairing the Vivoactive 4 with virtual training platforms like Zwift can enhance the training experience by providing real-time heart rate data.

By the way, go to our cycling applications page if you want to see what we think of Zwift et al.

Connecting Zwift and Garmin

To pair your Garmin watch with Zwift and track your heart rate during workouts, follow these steps:

Accessing the Heart Rate Broadcast Feature

  1. Press and hold the bottom button on the right side of your Garmin watch.
  2. Scroll down to select the ‘Settings’ option.
  3. Navigate to the ‘Wrist Heart Rate’ menu.
  4. You will see two heart rate broadcasting options: ‘Broadcast During Activity’ and ‘Broadcast Heart Rate’.

Standard Broadcast Mode on Garmin Watch

  • To use the standard broadcast:
    • Choose the ‘Broadcast Heart Rate’ option.
    • The watch is now broadcasting your heart rate.
    • Ensure that Zwift is set up to receive the heart rate signal from your watch.
    • You are ready to ride, and your heart rate will be displayed in Zwift.

Broadcasting During Activity

  • To record your workout on the Garmin as well:
    • Select ‘Broadcast During Activity’.
    • Turn this feature on.
    • Go back to your main workout screen.
    • Choose ‘Bike Indoor’ (or your preferred activity) to start the workout.
    • This mode will track your workout details and broadcast your heart rate to Zwift simultaneously.

Choosing the Best Option

  • If you wish to have your workout data recorded both on the Garmin Connect app and on Zwift, ‘Broadcast During Activity’ is the optimal choice.
  • If your only concern is to use the Vivoactive 4 to display heart rate data on Zwift without recording the workout in the Garmin ecosystem, then the ‘Broadcast Heart Rate’ (standard broadcast) option will suffice.

Now, with your Garmin Vivoactive 4 successfully paired with Zwift, you can enjoy your indoor cycling sessions while easily monitoring your heart rate without the need for additional sensors. Happy riding!

A Personal View on Using a HRM with Zwift 

As long-time Zwift rider, I’ve always wanted to fully use technology to get the most out of our workouts. That’s why I was thrilled to discover how well my Vivoactive 4 pairs with the Zwift app for accurate heart rate (HR) tracking during my virtual runs.

Using this setup has genuinely transformed my training sessions, making them more effective and engaging.

When I first started using Zwift, I realized that to harness the power of the platform truly, I needed to monitor my HR closely. That’s when my Vivoactive 4 became the perfect heart rate monitor. It’s not just about seeing numbers; tracking my HR in real-time helps me understand my body’s response to various intensities and terrains within the virtual world of Zwift.

Pairing the Vivoactive 4 with the Zwift app was surprisingly easy. Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, I was able to seamlessly transmit my wrist heart rate data directly to the app. It’s crucial for me to have that constant feedback, and with the Bluetooth connection being so stable, I never have to worry about losing that vital HR data mid-run.

Using a USB Dongle 

However, there were times when I opted for an even more robust connection using a USB dongle. By plugging the dongle into my computer, I established a direct link between my Vivoactive 4 and the Zwift app. This ensured that my HR data was always accurate and timely, which is especially important when I’m pushing my limits during a virtual run.

One of the key benefits of using my Vivoactive 4 for HR tracking on Zwift is the convenience of the wrist heart rate feature. Gone are the days of uncomfortable chest straps; now, I can just glance at my watch to detect my HR zones. This convenience has made it easier for me to stay in the zones to maximize endurance and fat burn.

Moreover, the Vivoactive 4 is compatible with most devices. Whether I’m on my bike trainer or pounding the pavement on a virtual run, I can rely on it to deliver precise HR data to the Zwift app. 

In conclusion, integrating my Vivoactive 4 with Zwift for heart rate tracking is essential if you want to get the most from your sessions.

It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about understanding my body and customizing my workouts to improve my health and performance. Whether you’re a serious athlete or a casual runner, I highly recommend using a heart rate monitor like the Vivoactive 4 with the Zwift app to take your virtual runs to the next level.