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HRV & Debunking the Myths of Recovery

WHOOP Recovery is based on 3 metrics:

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Resting heart rate: Resting heart rate (RHR) is a measure of your heart rate when you are at complete rest. RHR is measured using a dynamic average throughout one's sleep, giving more weight to periods of slow wave sleep (SWS). 

Heart rate variability: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measures the variance in time between successive heart beats, and is also measured using a dynamic average throughout one's sleep, giving more weight to periods of slow wave sleep. 

The higher your HRV, the more variation your heart rate is experiencing, which is a natural indication of your body’s readiness to perform. HRV is an indicator of the balance of your autonomic nervous system, and a trending increase in HRV leads to a stronger recovery.

Sleep: Sleep is when your body recovers. Getting more restful sleep each night improves your recovery the following day.

Why is HRV so important? 

Research has shown that HRV is one of the best objective measures of fitness of an individual and can be used as an indication of physiological readiness. HRV is a good indicator of:

  • Recovery status
  • Readiness to tolerate physical stress
  • Training adaptability
  • Risk of injury, fatigue, and overtraining
  • Health parameters

What affects HRV?

The body is constantly adapting to internal and external stimuli. The following chart breaks down the top factors that affect your HRV:

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 Proper Adaptation to Training Stimuli:

Following exercise with high volume, intensity, or a combination of any of the factors listed above, you may notice a drop in HRV. With proper recovery, your body will adapt and build fitness.

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Common recovery myths:

“I need to be in the green every day to be healthy.”

It is physiologically impossible to be fully recovered every single day. Your body is constantly responding to internal and external stressors, which is reflected in your WHOOP recovery. Additionally, if you are increasing training loads, your body must go through a period of functional overreaching in order to improve fitness.

"Being in the red is a bad thing.”

It’s ok to be in the red every once in a while. Maybe you had a few drinks with friends the night before, or maybe you’ve had a heavy week of training. When you’re in the red, you should focus on proper recovery strategies to bounce back. 

Being in the red for multiple days or weeks in a row could be a sign of illness, overtraining, or poor lifestyle habits. When this happens, it is important to put a significant effort into rest and recovery.

 “If I don’t get a lot of sleep, my recovery will be low.”

Not necessarily! While sleep is incredibly important and helps our bodies repair, recovery is still based on changes in RHR and HRV. Just make sure you take a nap later in the day or get enough sleep the next night, otherwise your sleep debt will accumulate and you will see lower recoveries.

“My HRV range is on the lower end, which means I’m less fit than my peers.”

HRV is different for everyone. It is affected by age, sex, health conditions, genetics, and lifestyle. Just as there are many professional athletes with high HRVs, there are many who fall within the average range. It is important to pay attention to your own trends, rather than focusing on a number.

 “After 24 hours and a full night’s rest, my recovery should bounce back.”

Full recovery can take days, even weeks depending on the stressors you place on your body. For example, someone who runs a marathon might not see their recovery bounce back to normal levels until a week or two after the event. If you’ve been sick for a few days, your body is still fighting a cold and likely won’t be recovered even though you’re getting more than enough sleep.

 

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