HRV Drop After High Intensity

I am noticing that my HRV always drops considerably the night after high-intensity training. It tends to bounce back the following night and tends to not be affected by lower-intensity training. I assume this is due to fatigue, and it always negatively affects my sleep and recovery.

First of all, is this drop after high intensity common and expected? And, are there any recommendations you can offer to help minimize it?

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Yes, it’s totally normal. It can be even worse if you do them in the evening. I had a block week of high intensity and my HRV stayed pretty low, despite getting stronger and setting power records at the end of it. As soon as I gave myself some time to recover my HRV scores went back up. Just make sure your nutrition and hydration is not lacking, as this can slow recovery.

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It’s a normal and expected response to high intensity training.

FWIW, I’d use HRV as a guide but not as a gospel; I only found it reliable in two situations:

  1. Telling me I’d slept really badly (which I knew anyway); and
  2. Telling me I was on the verge of illness (unexpectedly low HRV in conjunction with unexpectedly high RHR and feeling more tired than training history alone would explain).

You say it negatively affects your sleep, what time of day are you doing you high intensity workouts?

I do all my training early in the morning, usually at 6:00 am - 9:00 am. When I say the drop in HRV is negatively affecting my sleep, I am mostly referring to how Garmin tells me my sleep is per their measurements. I rely on their tools and haven’t done a great job measuring my sleep quality on my own.

Lower HRV tends to be synonymous with bad sleep on my end. I assumed the low HRV was the cause of the poor sleep, not the other way around.

Yes, I have definitely noticed HRV telling me when I have a bug about to cause havoc on my life. It’s fantastic at noticing that about a day before I notice it.

Thank you! Glad to hear this is normal and expected.