WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
Rest and recovery are an important part of any exercise program. Here are three essential elements for improving trining and performance.
Pulling all those heavy deadlifts or performing frequent high-intensity interval training sessions will eventually burn you out, leading to overtraining and injury that can take months for a complete recovery.
Trainers should heed the advice of eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, who once famously quipped, “Stimulate, don’t annihilate.” But getting a dedicated athlete to take some necessary downtime is next to impossible. Fear not, though: You can integrate some of these tools into your recovery protocol and achieve your personal best in the gym and beyond.
One simple and accurate way to monitor the stress being placed on your body during heavy training is heart-rate variability. According to Gabriel Rodriguez, the run apparel category manager for Under Armour, and a former All American athlete, Division I track coach and Mount Washington Road Race record holder, “Using HRV to monitor fatigue is still in its infancy stages, but it shows tremendous promise as an effective overtraining tool.”
HRV is measured as the time gap between your heart beats, and they will vary as you breathe in and out. It sounds counterintuitive, but if those gaps are identical between each beat, it’s thought to be unnatural. But if those gaps vary, it’s healthier because it means the heart is pumping as needed (as opposed to monotonously working). The more relaxed your mind and body, the more variability you will have between heartbeats.
ϐ ǫ be used to help predict important issues like the level of fatigue incurred from previous workouts, poor hydration levels, as well as excessive stress due to performance anxiety and nervousness. Although, there are numerous other factors that affect HRV, including age, gender, genetics, body position, time of day, temperature, humidity, altitude and hormonal status, this information can be used to make decisions on how you should train (or not train).
ϐ " higher HRV values to good health and Many negative health outcomes are associated with poor heart-rate variability, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. ϐ ǡ ǡ has shown that stress, fatigue and burnout cause decreased HRV levels. The best way to measure HRV is with an EKG machine in a lab setting, but in case that’s not an option, there are several helpful apps such as ithlete (myithlete.com/ithlete-pro/).
Personal experience as an elite runner has taught Rodriguez that using heart rate alone to monitor workout intensity can be extremely ϐ Ǥ into the mix you can provide some muchneeded sensitivity to the amount of stress being placed on your body, making for a more complete picture of your current training program’s effectiveness. “It’s important to develop an overall baseline with your workouts so you can learn how to properly use the HRV data,” says Rodriguez. “Then you can adjust your training schedule to achieve maximum results.”
The best time of day to record HRV is right when you wake up, since time of day, meals, movement and mood can all affect the measurement. Over time you’ll see trends and patterns in your HRV and can properly schedule intense workouts, deload weeks and rest days with accuracy and forethought.
Rodriguez sums up by saying that using HRV as a measure of overtraining can be extremely helpful, but he thinks that combining HRV with the social media aspect of workout trackers like Mapmyrun could provide even greater feedback and support of your training and overall performance.