There’s a fair amount of chatter about using hear rate variability (HRV), particularly to track fatigue. Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you find it useful? Any particular recommendations on getting started?
I don’t think I have seen a dedicated thread, but it is mentioned in many others.
Yep. 2 years back I had a bout of overtraining. I straight cracked and couldn’t go over 200w for more than a few min. I went back and tried and struggled to find data that would have given me an alert to it. The next year it happened again albeit not as sever and I did find HRV at that time.
I use an app now called HRV4Training - its free but there is a pro version.
It (like I assume most HRV apps) tries to put all that HRV mumbo jumbo into a score that says you are good or bad.
What I can say is it certainly is right about the bad days and I haven’t had any overtraining or blowouts all year long. I use a personal coach and I can recall a few times where the plan said one thing, and HRV said another and I listened to HRV. More of the time it was ‘hey coach its been looking low this week and I feel like trash lets ease up next week’.
Honestly it correlates with perceived fatigue pretty well and is just another metric to urge you to pull the plug or go -1 on a ride.
On the recovery side - I have less data points or recollection. It sure goes up when I take time off but I’ve never gotten sky high readings that say ‘wow I’m super fresh’. That could be due to my training & workload or just my HRV only goes so far.
Final point - I use an apple watch and see my resting HR all day. That is just as good as an indicator for me as HRV is. Problem is that is throughout the day looking back where I take HRV first thing in the am
Just started using HRV4Training as well and really rate it.
Listened to a great podcast interview this morning with the developer of HRV4Training (Marco Altini):
There was a decent discussion in this thread with a few reviews of various HRV trackers:
I’ve been using HRV4training, I do think it works well. I really started because I hoped it would at minimum help me get back in the habit of taking a resting HR each morning and since it uses my phone this works well for me.
It is interesting to me that I think diet has as much impact on my scores as training. Due to the colder weather I haven’t dug any big holes lately like I would have in the summer but it does track with training harder or for several days. But if I do workout reasonably hard and don’t refuel properly or throw down some pizza I see it in my HRV score the next day.
I use the app, I played with their website and I think I’m going to stick with just the app.
I use Garmins HRV monitoring (Firstbeat really, Vivoactive 3). If my HRV is lower than usual, I don’t do any tougher workouts, or simply rest totally that day. If I’m sick, I don’t do any tougher workouts until my HRV has risen. After a tough workout, or a lighter one but during a stressful day with too little sleep, my HRV is much lower for 3-12 hours afterwards.
I’ve found it, at least for me, correlates well with perceived fatigue as well as resting heart rate. It helps me decide if I’m fatigued/sick and need to rest or if I’m just bored. It’s also a better indicator for sleep quality than the sleep monitors watching movement.
I have used hrv continuously for four years with myself as well as athletes I coach. I use both Elite hrv and HRV4Training. I used to use five different apps each morning for comparison purposes and narrowed down to these two.
HRV4T in particular uses a number of subjective questions as well as hrv to determine readiness to train. I find that in general HRV4T can be more cautious and “can” prevent functional overreaching (desirable at times) for some individuals if you took its advice each day during a hard block of training. It will in most instances prevent overtraining but overtraining syndrome, albeit a serious condition, is less common than one would think.
One or two days of recommendations from either app to “take it easy” is not necessarily something to be concerned about but if it continues for an extended period of time then it may be time to back off from intensity and possibly even volume.
There are no cut and dry methods to using hrv and it’s the trends that are more important than the day to day readings for most individuals.
As mentioned, sleep and nutrition can have more impact on hrv than training does. Tracking those in conjunction with hrv as well as resting hr give you a better picture rather than relying on just one measure.
Yes, I got my worst value after a night of very poor rest.
How closely do the HRV scores from HRV4Training and Elite HRV correlate?
Is there any useful functionality in Elite HRV that HRV4Training doesn’t have?
I started with EliteHRV early 2017. Moved to HRV4Training this year. Both are great for simply seeing trends over time.
I found HRV4Training much more insightful. Offering training load analysis, correlations between two variables like HR and sleep quality, or rMSSD and TSS. Acute HRV changes: analyze body’s response to alcohol intake or travel. Training polarization, shows you your percentage of training at low and high intensities.
You can sync with Strava and TP get activity data automatically. *This did not work with EliteHRV for more than 1 activity a day, which is the main reason why I switched to HRV4Training. Automatically syncs up to 5 activities a day. However TSS can only be read from TP if you have a paid TP account otherwise you have to enter TSS manually.
Both apps have their own scoring system, which after a baseline has been established, can be used to determine your readiness to train. EliteHRV has a graphical dial that shows sympathetic and parasympathetic stress which HRV4Training does not really show. HRV4Training has more detail in general but you need a good 2 months of recording to build the statistics. If you want a simple HRV trend I’d recommend EliteHRV, if you want extensive data analyzation go with HRV4Training.
I am using HRV4T now for only two weeks recently but have used a different set up previously for months a couple of years ago. It seems to correlate quite accurately with how I am feeling with regard to training. My lowest values have come after having a few beers at a Halloween party that we threw a few weeks ago. I work nights intermittently in the ER and find that this also correlates with lower scores when I don’t sleep well.
Another physician friend of mine who was a cyclist died in his sleep from sudden cardiac death in his early 40’s. He had no other significant symptoms preceding this. The book “Haywire Heart” details the myriad arrhythmia related issues that are more prevalent in athletes than in the general population. There is a high correlation between arrhythmias and aerobic athletes.
I use HRV4T as well as frequent self administered echocardiograms to assess my cardiac health. There is data that shows that lower HRV is correlated with mortality after heart attack as well as with congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
@oggie41 I think @tomblack gives a good synopsis of the differences. Both have proprietary formulas for determining readiness but the actual hrv And rmssd on both are pretty close in regard to those numbers.
Having a good hr monitor to use instead of just a phone or light based hrv sensor will give more accurate results. One that measures the actual r-r timeframe instead of extrapolates it.
Definitely HRV4T has more details that you can delve into but it also takes more knowledge of what you’re looking at in regards to those details.
For most people either one without the paid upgrade will be adequate in assisting with training “readiness” but both are much stronger when used in conjunction with a professional that knows how to interpret and assess hrv readings. The reality is that hrv is just beginning to be researched compared to other metrics and some of the assumptions once thought about hrv are now being discredited and is not necessarily the holy grail that everyone thought it was. Hrv is reactionary and without knowing what it is reacting to, can become much more difficult to interpret. Certain foods, sleep, stress, training and a litany of other variables can all affect hrv negatively or positively.
My phone camera didn’t work reliably with HRV4T (I’ve got an old(ish) phone), so I recently bought a bluetooth Polar H10 HR strap. The readings have been really reliable since then. As a bonus I’ve now also got a HR strap that I can use with the TR app.
On a slightly different note, do you guys tend to monitor HRV in the days leading up to your A race? You obviously want to turn up at your main race of the year feeling as confident as possible… but if you see your HRV is trending downwards close to race day I imagine it could affect that confidence in how well you’re going to perform.
Thanks all for the input, it’s very informative. It seems for most of you it quantifies and confirms what you already know qualitatively in terms of fatigue. I primarily want it to remind me that I’m not getting enough sleep, and that a mug of coffee after dinner might not be a stellar idea. There is perhaps an important distinction between things I know I should do and measuring the consequences of doing things right (or wrong). It’s easier to disregard the former, but a little harder to ignore the latter.
I got HRV4T and will give it a shot. Just FYI, there no longer seems to be a free version (if it ever existed). And after you pay for it but before being permitted to use it you are required to sign up for an account.
HRV4T just came out with Apple Watch integration, I haven’t tried it but probably better than phone cammera
I’d love for HRV4T to start integrating with TR. This is a summary of how I think it could work:
Curious if some of you have noticed something that I’ve seen since I started using HRV4. I tend to catch my lowest values not the next morning but the following morning after a harder workout, say over unders or something like that.
I wasn’t using HRV4 during the summer, I wish now that I could see what it was like the next morning or day after a 100 miler or when I’ve spent the weekend in the mountains doing quite a bit more than I normally would.
I just recently purchased the Scosche 24 monitor (which is supposed to be compatible with the HRV4T app, however, when I attempt to use the Scosche through HRV4T app I get:
“Unfortunately your sensor does not send RR intervals but only Heart Rate information. Therefore we cannot compute HRV using this sensor. Please use another sensor or the Camera version of HRV4Training”
I have updated the latest app on both the Scosche and HRV4T. Is there something that I am missing here?
Have sent an email to the support for HRV4T and will let you know what I hear. In the meantime I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the Scosche HR monitor if you are expecting it to interact with the HRV4T app.
Quick response and resolution of the issue described above with HRV4T:
Thank you for your message. This one can be easily sorted. Basically by default the sensor does not send RR intervals, you need to use the scosche app, I believe it’s called sync, to put the sensor in ‘heart rate variability mode’, this can be done just once if you use it only for your morning measurements, otherwise needs to be done before measuring if normally you put it back to heart rate mode. At that point the app will be able to compute HRV using the RR intervals received from the sensor.
The ability to change the mode to heart rate variability is under mode on the home screen.
@oggie41 unfortunately while in a perfect world this is a great idea, the way Hrv works isn’t that simple.
In fact, if you are doing training in a strenuous way trying to create adaptation, then an Hrv can move significantly day to day. It’s the long term trend that is more important.
These apps have a tendency of being way to cautious (I’m sure there may be a liability factor involved) and in many cases simply changing program in my athletes has caused a significant change in Hrv and the app will suggest an “easy” day.
Just using the app and it’s hrv reading itself is not a recommended way to determine training loads. If we did so, then we would rarely train while doing higher intensity loading because it would be recommending that rest or recovery was necessary.