Strava’s ‘Relative Effort’ levels the playing field across a variety of sports

Strava Relative Effort

The eternal debate of who works out harder — runners, cyclists, or swimmers — may finally be over. A new premium feature that arrived for Strava looks to level the playing field in terms of how we measure the intensity of our activity while exercising, making it easier than ever to compare different types of workouts. Best of all, these new features will not only compare the different types of activities you do as part of your fitness regimen but can also compare results across workout groups to determine who was working the hardest.

Dubbed Relative Effort, the new feature is being called “the ultimate activity metric” by Strava. It is built upon the research of Dr. Marco Altini and uses heart-rate monitoring to offer a new take on how to compare different types of activities. According to Strava, the metric is highly accurate for running and cycling and has been shown to offer consistent measurements in other types of sports, too.

According to Strava, Relative Effort also works well for swimming, skiing, indoor rowing, and most other aerobic activities. Any data collected while using a heart-rate monitor while doing those types of workouts will work with this new system, providing users with insights on how all of their workouts compare with one another, even though they are completely different in terms of intensity, duration, and distance.

Strava Relative Effort

When they log in to their Strava accounts starting, premium users will see Relative Effort as a new option on their web dashboard or mobile app (iOS/Android). A simple chart will offer a visual display of an athletes weekly activity compared to their recent averages. Tapping on that graph will allow them to dig a bit deeper into their weekly numbers, providing weighted averages for the past 12 weeks. The data can then be used to offer suggestions on how to maintain current fitness levels, increase workouts, or to allow more recovery time.

But, the Relative Effort feature can be used in other ways. For instance, Strava says that participants in regular cycling and running groups can use the feature to compare their numbers, which provide a more accurate measurement of not who is the fastest, but who is working the hardest and putting more into their workout. In this way, it has the potential to completely change who has bragging rights among friends.

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