Using HRV is not just about knowing when to take it easy or rest if you’re not fully recovered or coming down with a cold.
Taking your HRV reading daily lets you plan ahead with knowledge of what your body is best suited to on that day. When your reading is good compared to your baseline, it’s having confidence that your body is able to cope with the training demands you put on it. Not only that, but research summarized on our blog showed that when a group of recreational club runners trained over an 8 week period, those whose HRV increased improved their running times in the final race, whereas those whose HRV stayed the same or declined did not improve.
Similarly, another study on elite swimmers demonstrated that their performances in a weekly 400m time trial could be accurately predicted from their HRV. This makes HRV an ideal tool to use with polarized, or high intensity interval training (HIIT). High intensity sessions are a very effective stimulus for the body to adapt, but need to be performed on days when the body has adequate reserves. Training hard on these days will be more effective and will feel better than training hard on days when you’re not fully recovered.
Similarly, HRV is a great tool to use in the taper period before a race or event so you know you are peaking and ready to perform at your best when you want to. As well as allowing you to vary your training according to your body’s needs, using ithlete to record subjective feelings of stress, fatigue, mood and your diet and sleep quality allows you to discover which factors affect not only your recovery, but your overall health.
So fitness and health can go hand in hand after all!