Heart rate recovery

I’ve a question about hr variations in training… this is the first time I’ve posted a question on here. So not sure it’s the right place for questions to TrainerRoad? When doing a workout, and you have a brief recovery as part of the training session, heart rate will drop quite quickly and quite significantly, I feel it takes effort (from your body internally) to then regain that higher heart rate when you need to go back into the higher stress interval. So is it best in efficiency to allow your hr to drop so quickly and significantly to then have to wait a few moments for it to come back up for the effort required? Or should you try and maintain that high heart rate and just allow it to drop slightly?

Hope this makes sense?
Kindest regards

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For clarity sake, the term Heart rate variability is used for something else. It is the measure of time between each heart beat and is used to judge how fatigued or stressed your body may be, typically at rest.

I believe the term you are looking for is heartrate recovery, which is tracked on intervals.icu if you have signed up. I’m not an expert, but I believe the fitter you are, the faster your heartrate will recover. So I think you want it to recover more quickly, but your question I think is more about the structure of the workout rather than your heartrate recovery. I’m pretty sure the answer is, longer intervals with less rest is gonna push you harder and lead to more adaptations. The more you let your body recover, the less strain you are putting on it when you start working again.


Generally speaking, a heart rate that drops quickly during recovery efforts and rises during intense efforts is the kind of adaptation we want.

You can expect the speed at which this happens to vary from workout to workout, and over time. But I’d say that you should not try to manage HR independently of your TR power targets.


Thank you for the replies , apologies for using the incorrect term , yes I did mean the rate hr drops in the rest periods and then the rate increases again during the higher intensity sections, I just wondered if it’s normal to have such a drop from say 152 hr to 123-117 in a matter of seconds. It’s always a pain thinking I’ve got to get my hr back up again to manage the next effort whereas it would be more efficient if it just dropped a little then Wouldn’t have to climb much to get back up again? From the previous comment it seems to be a good thing to have hr drop so much in the recovery sections

:pray: thank you for your lovely support / replies on this , just wanted to check if you get this too and if it’s correct

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Yes, it is good to be able to get your heart rate down quickly, but from a workout perspective harder workouts will give you less chance to recover, so ideally your heart rate won’t get a chance to go down to baseline because your workout is sufficiently difficult.

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I think you are thinking of it a bit backwards. HR isn’t the output that you are looking to get but rather a secondary effect or a symptom.

So you do a hard interval and your HR rises because your body is demanding more oxygen. Then during a rest interval you begin to recover, your body isn’t asking for all that oxygen, and your HR falls. So, in order to not let your HR fall as much between intervals like you suggest it would require you to ride harder during your rest intervals, and thus not recover as much/well. If you aren’t recovering as much between intervals then those work intervals probably aren’t going to be performed to the highest quality.

My best analogy would be something like: you have multiple people taking warm/hot showers in your house (these are the intervals). But your hot water heater isn’t big enough to supply the hot water required for all of them back to back, so you have to turn off the shower between and let it reheat the water in the tank(the rest intervals). But each time you turn the water back on the pipes and the water in the pipes have cooled down a bit so it takes a handful of seconds for hot water to come out of the shower again. You could avoid this short warm up period by just keeping the hot water trickling out of the shower between people, but this would also be depleting the hot water tank further and prevent the people from getting the full warm shower they would if you had just turned the water off and waited.

EDIT: I should probably add that the explanation is a little backwards as your body doesn’t really have the ability to detect low oxygen levels, but rather it is detecting high levels of CO2. But most of the time high O2 demand is followed by high CO2 production so functionally the explanation is the same but I thought I should clarify that.


You might be interested in the LSCT Warmup which uses HRR to test your freshness before a workout:

From the description:
“This workout is our version of the Lamberts and Lambert Submaximal Cycle Test. It’s a great way to test your freshness before a workout, and a good warmup too. The workout instructions will tell you what to do along the way.

The goal of this workout is to identify your HRR.”


Your heart rate recovery is mostly determined by your training and age and probably relates to parasympathetic activity. And as previous replies have said the amount of recovery between intervals will depend on the relative duration and intensity of those “effort” intervals and the effort you are still making during the “rest” intervals. The quicker your heart rate recovers the better. In fact recovery during the first 10 seconds after exercise is a predictor of all cause and cardiac mortality.

It would be a very different workout if you didn’t allow your HR to recover. Why not try and and feedback how you get on!!!

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I think my f*cking neighbor does this.

Just kidding. This is an excellent analogy.

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