For athletes, training is serious business! The entire career of an athlete is dependent on the quality of their training and how well it aligns with the performance requirement of the sport in which they compete. Hence, athletes are particular about the training tools that help them measure their training’s effectiveness and plan their workouts.
One such training tool is HRV, which BoostO2 uses to help guide training programs for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
What is HRV?
HRV stands for Heart Rate Variability and measures the length of time between heartbeats. It is one of the best tools to gauge the current level of stress on your nervous system and determine whether your body can handle even more stress or not.
Entire books have been written on this topic. Still, the goal of this article is to provide you with a crash course and hopefully shed light on the subjects of readiness, recovery, and overtraining with this simple yet powerful metric.
In the above figure you can see a waveform of a normal heartbeat. The more variability between beats is an indication of less stress on the nervous system and is generally considered a favorable signal.
A low HRV would mean that the timing between heartbeats is more regular and less variable indicating an increased level of stress. This is a great leading indicator of overtraining or impending sickness.
What is a High or a Low HRV Score?
An HRV score on its own does not give a lot of effective information on which to base your training decisions. HRV acts as an effective training tool when tracked over time when deviations from the rolling average can be noticed.
How to measure your HRV score?
Apps like Elite HRV can help you track and analyze your HRV over time. A few other options which can be used for the same purpose are:
This app helps track HRV using the flash and camera sensor on your phone and can be used on most Android-based smartphones. It is free and accessible to everyone. Other similar apps are available to iPhone users.
Both Oura Ring and the Garmin Connect Watch wearables use microchip technology to accurately monitor HRV all day. You’ll be able to analyze your HRV data in micro-detail, associating changes in HRV with particular activities or behaviors helping you gain insight of how your habits shape your health.
Price: $300 for the Oura Ring; Garmin Connect Watches start at $150 USD
Out of all three, our recommended option is another offering by Garmin, the Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap. Easy to use and an accurate measure of the HRV, this product is a perfect way to evaluate the changes in the HRV during training programs.
It allows the athletes to check HRV throughout a workout session with accuracy and can be connected to other Garmin accessories like the Garmin Connect Watch and the Phone App for Garmin.
The strap costs about $130 USD and can be bought from the Garmin store like their watch.
When To Measure HRV
The best time to measure HRV is right after you wake up. The best method is to use a heart rate monitor chest strap linked to an app like Elite HRV to get the most accurate results.
Once your HRV data is recorded and visualized on a graph, you can start to extract useful training guidance from the data. If you start to draw a 7-day rolling average through your HRV scores, you can find deviations above and below your average score.
How to interpret your HRV data to help plan your training:
If you notice your HRV is higher than your rolling average, it would indicate that you generally have more capacity for hard training that day.
If you have a day where your HRV score is well below your rolling average, this could indicate that you should take it easy that day or skip training that day altogether.
This simple yet powerful metric can give amazing insights into a deeper understanding of the stress of training and the effectiveness of recovery.
HRV is an effective tool used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts and available to anyone. You can use HRV to help tune into your body and gain important insight on stress and recovery, using real data to guide your training for more optimal results.
If you’d like to learn more about HRV, schedule an appointment to meet with one of our trainers, who will be happy to discuss more. Find our contact information on our website. You can also learn more about our Performance Program here.