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WHOOP For Athletes: Recovery as a Skill

What is WHOOP Recovery?

Recovery is a measure of your body’s readiness to respond or perform on a scale of 0 to 100%.

What Impacts Recovery?

Recovery is an all-encompassing metric that is calculated using recent trends and data points in resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep performance, and respiratory rate. Lifestyle choices and behaviors can significantly impact those metrics.

What is Heart Rate Variability?

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variance in time between heartbeats. Your HRV value on a given day originates from the two branches of your autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and the sympathetic (fight or flight). When these systems are balanced, your HRV increases, a sign that your body is capable of adapting to any changes in environment, like a hard training session, and performing at its best.

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What is Resting Heart Rate?

Resting heart rate (RHR) is a measure of the number of heart beats per minute while your body is in a state of complete rest. A low resting heart rate is an indication of a strong heart muscle that is more effective with every beat, and increased fitness.

What Does My Recovery mean?

Over time, WHOOP will help you discover lifestyle habits and training modalities that work best for your unique physiology. Viewing and assessing your score trends each week can help maximize performance in each facet of your athlete experience.

How Do I Use My Recovery score?

Post-Game Recovery. Have a low Recovery score on game day or the day after? Stay ahead of fatigue by dedicating extra time to rehabilitation techniques that most positively impact your data.

Coping with Training Load. Monitor your Recovery to peak when it matters most.

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Training Periodization. Monitor how long it generally takes you to recover from games or workouts, and work with coaches to adjust training accordingly.

Returning to Play After Injury. Monitor your data and stay ahead of post-injury overtraining. 

Recovery is Not a Prescription. Use your Recovery score as a guide, not an end all be all.

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Green Recovery indicates that your body is primed to take on Strain and you may be able to push yourself harder than usual during an important training session or competition. In this zone, you are well above your Recovery baseline, so make sure to track which lifestyle behaviors might have had an impact. 

Yellow Recovery represents your baseline and where you’ll most likely be majority of the time. Being in the yellow means that your body has taken on meaningful Strain recently, but you are still able to recover effectively. 

If you wake up with a Red Recovery score, don't panic! A lower score should inform you that you may need to pay close attention to your body and Recovery as you continue to accrue high levels of Strain. Sometimes, during a programmed period of overreaching, continuing to work through periods of low Recovery will lead to tremendous fitness gains.

Tips on Recovery Maximization

The key to optimizing Recovery is through self experimentation and constant monitoring. Log behaviors in your WHOOP journal and track how they impact your Recovery score over time. Some ways to increase Recovery:

  1. Foam rolling and stretching.
  2. Maximize Hydration, which is one of the top ways that WHOOP users increase their recovery scores.
  3. Dial into your nutrition and monitor how different foods affect your physiology.
  4. Meditation or Breathwork
  5. Monitor and Limit Alcohol Consumption
  6. Use Light Exposure to Reinforce Circadian Rhythm. Exposing yourself to natural light first thing in the morning and limiting bright lights before bed can have a very positive impact on your Recovery and sleep.  

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WHOOP Recovery Score as a Predictor of Basketball Performance in NCAA, Division I Collegiate Athletics

A difference of 50 Recovery Score percentage points predicts about a 35% difference in field goal shooting accuracy and about a 50% difference in free throw shooting accuracy compared to an athlete’s seasonal average.

Learn More About Recovery

WHOOP Podcast: WHOOP Recovery - Maximize Your Body’s Readiness to Perform

Our VP of Performance and VP of Data Science explain what recovery is, how it’s calculated, and why heart rate variability is such a huge factor in determining it. They discuss the relationship between strain and recovery, and how to use it to optimize your training, as well as external factors that impact your recovery. They also share tips for what you can do to improve your recovery on a daily basis.

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