6 Apple Watch apps for an awesome six-pack

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Want a more defined core? Your Apple Watch can help.
Want a more defined core? Your Apple Watch can help.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

For many guys wanting to get in shape, a chiseled six-pack is the ultimate goal. But achieving that iconic washboard look is not easy. Especially as you get older.

Fortunately, your Apple Watch can help you along the way to achieving a tighter core. Apple’s Health app, Activity app and even the Breathe app have a role to play. Here’s how to get a six-pack with a little help from your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Ready, set, relax! Go deep with Apple Watch Breathe app [Cult of Mac Magazine No. 274]

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Cult of Mac Magazine No. 274
The serenely subtle Breath app has a surprisingly deep history.
Cover: Graham Bower/Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Take a deep breath and learn how to get the most out of your Apple Watch with a pair of handy how-tos. Every Apple Watch owner can take advantage of Apple’s stress-busting Breathe app. However, you’ll need a Series 4 (and this week’s watchOS update) to get in on the ECG action.

Get those how-tos and the week’s best Apple news and reviews — including an expose on Apple’s biologically bogus squid emoji — in your free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Download it now on iTunes. Or keep reading for the week’s best Apple news, reviews and how-tos. (Plus, enter to win a set of rugged iPhone XS Max cases.)

Tap into the ancient wisdom of the Apple Watch Breathe app

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Chill out with the Apple Watch Breathe app.
Chill out with the Apple Watch Breathe app.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

In today’s fast-paced, connected world, the demands on our time seem endless. We spend much of our day in a state of constant hyperactivity. Apple Watch and iPhone add to the pressure, with their endless notifications telling us what we should be doing, who we should be speaking to and where we should be going.

Fortunately, Apple also offers an oasis of calm that can help us slow down this frenetic pace. The Apple Watch Breathe app draws on the ancient wisdom of Buddhist monks and yogis who practice a technique called “resonant breathing.”

Luckily, you don’t need to be a master of meditation to use the Breathe app that comes built into your Apple Watch. With clever visuals and smart features, it will guide you through this time-honored method for relaxing your body and clearing your mind. It’s a surprisingly subtle and relaxing experience that you might really enjoy.

In this quick guide, we’ll take a look at the origins of the Breathe app, how it works, what the benefits of resonant breathing are, and how to take advantage of this calming tech. So take a deep breath and let’s get started.

This hidden Apple Watch stat tells you whether to exercise or rest

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Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Heart Rate Variability will help make your workouts more effective
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Imagine if your Apple Watch could tell you which days were best for you to do a workout, and what kind of workout you should do. Well it can, sort of, thanks to a hidden feature that few people have yet discovered or know how to use.

Heart rate variability, or HRV, is a new metric that reveals your stress level and whether you have recovered from your last workout. It has been added to lots of high-end sports watches in recent years, including Apple Watch since watchOS 4 & iOS 11.

Here’s how you can use it to optimize your training, reduce your risk of injury, and know when to take a well-earned rest day.

How to set up Apple’s Health app to unlock its awesome fitness potential

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Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you think the Health app is just another pointless junk app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone, think again. Unlike Stocks, Compass or Tips, it is one of the few apps that Apple won’t let you delete. Set up the Apple Health app properly, and it becomes a powerful tool for getting (or staying) fit.

You see, the Health app lies at the heart of Cupertino’s growing health and fitness ambitions. And with its underlying HealthKit API, the Health app provides the framework that Apple Watch uses to gather data on your daily activity, heart rate and workouts.

But the Health app is more than just a place for storing data. With every iOS update, Apple makes major improvements to it. So, if you still think the Health app is a waste of space, it’s probably time you gave it another look. Especially if you own an Apple Watch. You’ll find it contains loads of useful, well-presented data that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

How to find your moment of zen with Apple’s Breathe app

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Breathe app in watchOS 3
The new Breathe app in watchOS 3 turns Apple Watch into a meditation machine.
Photo: Apple

Apple Watch wearers will soon find it easier to reach relaxation, thanks to the new Breathe app included in watchOS 3.

Every week, the Breathe app provides Apple Watch wearers with a summary of how well they performed the most essential human task for staying alive. If you suck at breathing, don’t worry. Breathe will turn you into a zen master in no time.

To start a breathing exercise follow these steps.

Apple Watch is getting better at fitness tracking, but it still sucks for running

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Activity app rocks. Workout app sucks.
Activity app rocks. Workout app sucks.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At WWDC this week, Apple all but confirmed that Apple Watch is really just a health gadget. Tim Cook described it offhandedly as a “device for a healthy life,” and most of the watchOS 3 segment of the keynote was devoted to health and fitness.

This focus on health makes sense. As an activity tracker, Apple Watch is arguably the best on the market, and watchOS 3 will make it even better. Apple’s wearable is ideal if you are simply looking to live a healthier day. But, despite some minor improvements, Apple Watch still sucks if you are into running.