Is Strava Premium Worth It?
Is Strava Premium worth it? That's the question a lot of free users are asking...
Strava Premium is Strava's paid version of their app and social network, which opens up a host of tools around live feedback on compatible devices, performance monitoring via the app as well as safety when out on the road or trail.
This video post is a Strava Premium review, where I talk about whether Strava Premium is worth the upgrade, and if so, who will benefit the most from the features that it offers. If you have any questions about Strava Premium, the free version of the app or around any of the other training apps out there, feel free to drop them in the comments below this post.
I hope you enjoy the video. You can find the transcript below the video if you'd like to have a read through.
In their own words, Strava has this to say about their paid service:
Premium is our all-out effort to keep athletes safe, improve their performance, and to make every activity as enjoyable as possible.
As you can tell, this hints at more than just a few extra training analysis features.
Let’s take a look at something called Beacon first, which is principally what Strava are referring to when they talk about safety and is part of a few Live Feedback features they offer with Premium.
This is a feature that essentially allows your trusted contacts to know where you are whilst you’re riding. What it’ll do is send a text message to contacts you assign with a link to a map. This map then shows a real-time location for you as you ride. It’ll work with most smartphones and is compatible Garmin devices using something called LiveTrack.
If you’re someone who rides long distances and durations, or perhaps ventures into very remote areas, this feature could be a good reason to upgrade to Premium. Whether it’s worth the subscription fee will ultimately rest on the type of riding you do and how connected you want to stay as you ride.
So next in Strava Premium’s Live Feedback toolbox is something called live segments, which is pretty self-explanatory. As you ride, previously favourited segments will appear on your phone or head unit and you’ll be notified when you approach them. You’ll then see a visualisation of the segment as well as data such as how you’re real-time effort compares to your PR, the current KOM etc.
What’s nice is that once the segment is complete, you’ll also get instant results feedback, so no waiting until you get home to know how you fared. If you’re someone who uses Strava for KOMs and competing against your own PRs, this is a really motivating feature that makes rides a lot of fun.
The other Premium feature around live feedback is the ability to show performance data on your smartphone, essentially making a large Garmin out of your phone. It displays what is actually a really clear screen full of data like heart rate, time and distance. Strava recommends the Quad Lock system for mounting your phone to the bike securely and I’d agree that it’s one of the best on the market. There’s a link in the description if you want to check them out.
The most well-known features of Strava Premium are arguably around the performance tools and metrics that it opens up. I won’t go into too much detail about all of them since there’s quite a few, but the highlights are as follows:
- There’s greater filtering of leaderboards so you can see who is leading particular age or weight categories, which is good for those who like to see where they stack up on particular segments with similar kinds of people
- A fatigue metric that Strava calls “Suffer Score”, which can help inform how much recovery time you might need.
- Heart rate and power analysis including heart rate zone distribution
- Power curve, which shows your power outputs on your current ride relative to your PBs at different durations.
- Zone Distribution, which I find very useful to see whether the goal of a particular ride was achieved and how much time I accumulated in different training zones
- And then a 25W distribution chart, which is another good visual representation of your ride and how much time was spent at different intensities.
As you can see, the Premium version of Strava offers lots of tools for ride-by-ride analysis, but it also opens up the ability to track fitness over time, helping it to compete with more advanced options like TrainingPeaks.
Other Strava Premium Features
If you navigate up to the Training tab at the top of the dashboard, you’ll be able to access Training Videos, Training Plans, another Power Curve graph and the Fitness & Freshness graph too. Let’s take a look at the latter.
Here you can see how your form (a combination of fitness and freshness) is developing as you train.
You can set the graph to show you the last 6 months of data, a year’s worth of data or everything you’ve every logged. You can toggle between the graph showing just your fatigue, just your form or both. Depending on what training tools you use, you can also set the graph to use metrics from just a power meter, just a heart rate monitor, or both again.
This graph is very useful for self-coached cyclists to plan a peak of fitness and keep track of how their training plan is affecting their fitness improvement.
The Training videos and plans that come with Strava Premium are provided by Carmichael Training Systems and if I’m being brutally honest, from what I can see, the videos look like they're quite low in quality and pretty basic additions to Premium.
You’re also able to start one of Strava Premium’s training plans from here, which you can adapt to your own goals and are delivered via email.
Likes & Dislikes
So those are some of the key features you can expect if you upgrade, but what do I like and not like about Strava Premium, in a nutshell?
Well, I’m a Premium user and I really like the power meter metrics like time in zone and the suffer score. Whilst I do go to TrainingPeaks for proper analysis, I like being able to see all of this in Strava too, since I spend more time on Strava for it’s social element.
What I don’t like and what I believe is missing with Premium is a planning tool for scheduling workouts, and I think it’s crazy that there isn’t the ability to do this to the best of my knowledge. I would seriously consider switching to Strava full time over TrainingPeaks if this were a feature.
I also don’t feel like there’s much benefit for non-power meter users upgrading to Premium when it comes to data and metrics, though I think the ability to see your performance on your favourite segments in real time is a really good feature.
Is Strava Premium worth it?
Well, I would say yes, if you're an advanced cyclist that's monitoring your training closely. For power meter users who solely use Strava to analyse and log training, I think do it's worth the upgrade.
Having said that, if you only want to use one programme for training planning and analysis though, I’d save your cash and spend it on TrainingPeaks, and keep Strava in the free mode for the social element of your training. For recreational riders, I would also say the upgrade isn’t worth really worth it and you’ve got plenty to play with in the free version.
It is worth noting that the Strava Premium subscription fee is fairly cheap and if you’re the kind of rider that could take advantage of even half the features, I'd certainly at least give it a go for a month or two.