top of page
  • HuskNutrition

Heart Rate Variability


Wearables and digital technologies are fast becoming popular amongst athletic populations and with very good reason.


Athletes have been tracking and using heart rates to target specific training methods for a long time but there is however a massive lack of understanding surrounding the implementation of HRV and it's not uncommon to see these devices becoming little more than fashion items.


HRV is a tool to assist in performance improvement.

Understanding your recovery levels generates an overview of the habits that promote healthy recovery scores for the best chances of performance.

However, it isn’t uncommon for people to ignore the information when they start using wearables and instead continue to beast themselves, walking away from training sessions frustrated, leading to other behaviours or worse, injured and unable to train.


There are many devices on the market allowing the user to log habits for personalised recovery metrics giving insight into how recovery can be improved.


WHAT IS HRV?


Heart rate variability is the variance in time between the beats of your heart.


The greater this variability is, the more equipped your body is to perform at a high level.


If we only measure heart rate, we would miss out on other very important signals.


Your monitor senses body temperature, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep and resting heart rate to monitor your readiness.


THE NERVOUS SYSTEM


HRV measures the variation in the time between heartbeats and reflects your nervous system, which has two branches - parasympathetic and sympathetic.


The parasympathetic handles internal organs and helps reduce heart rate, while the sympathetic responds to stress and exercise, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.


Elevated HRV means there is a broad range of what the heart can achieve, while low HRV means the nervous system is being dominated.


Improving recovery is crucial for athletic performance, as it allows for higher work volume and intensity.


Training and testing the body stimulates it to improve, but strain exceeding recovery makes it difficult to make performance gains.


HRV FLUCTUATES DAILY


Your HRV is determined by factors such as fitness, age, gender, genetics, health, and environmental conditions.


Monitoring your personal HRV trend is a useful approach to assessing whether your health and fitness are improving.


TRACKING HABITS


Daily log the habits and behaviours undertaken to accurately assess their impact on your HRV.


Pointing and calling habits is an effective way of creating awareness around the behaviours that improve and hinder your recovery, bringing them to the conscious level, helping you monitor the impact they have on your strain, sleep and recovery.


Staying consistent and accurate with a journal is important to reflect on performance as you review the trends from your habits over time.


WHAT DOES HRV ALLOW US TO GATHER?


Monitoring fatigue:


Athletes use HRV to track their fatigue levels and adjust their training accordingly. If HRV is lower than usual, it indicates that their body is experiencing more stress and needs more recovery time or less intensity in training.


Individualising training:


HRV allows athletes to customise training according to specific needs. By tracking HRV, we can determine optimal training intensity and volume.


Planning recovery:


We use HRV to plan recovery periods and optimise their rest and recovery strategies.


If HRV is low, we need to prioritise rest and recovery activities to avoid overtraining.


Monitoring illness:


HRV can also be used to monitor illness and injury. If HRV drops suddenly, it may indicate an illness or injury. This helps us target and support the immune system for longevity in health and training.


Tracking progress:


HRV can be used to track progress over time. If HRV improves, it indicates that their training program is effective.


APPLYING HRV


Begin by monitoring your HRV daily.


This will help you identify any changes in your HRV over time.


Use the data collected to work on gaps in your lifestyle that may be affecting your HRV, such as poor sleep, stress, or inadequate nutrition.


Analysing training load and intensity levels can determine whether you are overtraining or undertraining, we can adjust your training program if necessary.


Use the HRV readings to plan your recovery periods. Make sure to prioritise rest, sleep, and recovery activities during that time.


Identifying sources of stress can allow us to take steps to manage them. Consider meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques, massage or outdoor walking. Further HRV info will show us if they help or hinder.


Pay attention to your diet to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients to support your recovery. Consider developing a plan that meets your needs or targeted supplementation.


Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night.


Consider using sleep aids or developing a bedtime routine to improve the quality of your sleep.


Review your progress regularly to see if your HRV is improving over time. If not, adjust one area of your lifestyle and training program accordingly to see how it affects the information.


By sharing and accumulating data we can work on the following:


Look for patterns in the HRV readings that suggest you are experiencing stress, fatigue, or poor recovery.


Check for signs of overtraining, such as a sudden drop in HRV readings or persistent fatigue.


Evaluate your sleep patterns and quality to determine whether you are getting enough rest.


Analyse your training program to determine whether it is appropriate for your goals.


Look for any lifestyle factors that may be affecting your HRV, such as nutrition, stress, or lack of sleep.


IMPROVE RECOVERY


Whoop have analysed the information from their members and have shown some of these correlations to improvements in recoveries.


Adequate hydration - members that logged adequate hydration show improved recovery.


Melatonin before bed - members that log melatonin before bed saw a 2% increase in REM sleep, an 11% boost in recovery and a 34-minute increase in sleep duration. 


Caffeine below four servings per day, taken before 11:00 am.


Users who expressed gratitude in the journal experienced a 1.3% boost in their recovery score.


Magnesium, CBD, stretching, breathwork, meditation and massage were also shown to boost recovery while marathon training.


HINDER RECOVERY


Whoop analysed the information from members and shown some of these correlations to reductions in recoveries.


Eating late among Whoop members typically shows a 3% reduction in REM sleep, a 10% reduction in recovery and 26 minutes less sleep.


Dehydration can cause HRV to be low and therefore hinder recoveries.


Overeating and high amounts of food can reduce HRV and performance.


Caffeine over four servings per day reports lower recoveries and readiness.


Being hot and overheating can reduce HRV as resources go to thermoregulation.


Per alcoholic beverage Whoop users typically see a 4.3% reduction in recovery, HRV reduces 2.4ms and a 1.3bpm elevation in heart rate both of which take those capacities away from the performance. 

Comments


bottom of page