Rest and re­cov­ery are an im­por­tant part of any ex­er­cise pro­gram. Here are three es­sen­tial ele­ments for im­prov­ing trin­ing and per­for­mance.

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - By Ti­mothy J. Moore, PH.D., CSCS, MCHES

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-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.

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