This article was produced in collaboration with WHOOP.
We firmly believe that getting fitter, faster, and stronger takes high octane exertion over and over again. Failure to hobble the day after the leg is not adding to your profits. If you are not gassed at the end of your runs, you will not achieve a personal best. However, if there is one thing you should be working towards in 2021, training is smarter. With a wearable like WHOOP Strap 3.0, you can monopolize your health and fitness data to see how your daily exercise intensity, coupled with work and life stress, affects your body’s ability to recover. It’s like having a personal trainer on your wrist.
How WHOOP measures daily stress and recovery
WHOOP scientists studied over a million different days of “stress” and “recovery” metrics from users to see exactly how they affected people’s heart rate variability (HRV) on the following day. Quick primer: HRV measures the time fluctuations between heartbeats. For example, at rest it can oscillate between 55 and 65 beats per minute because inhaling speeds up your heart rate while exhaling slows it down. A lower HRV means that your body is dealing with stress and fatigue, while a higher HRV means that your body is well prepared for stress. Since heart rate is the only objective measure of recovery, it is the most important factor in WHOOP deciding how hard you should exercise each day. To make it easier for users to see data, WHOOP scientists created the strain metric to quantify the total stress on your body. Based on your morning recovery, WHOOP provides a strain goal target based on what your body is signaling it can handle for the day.
That doesn’t mean you always want to be green. If you are training for a triathlon, you will likely have blocks of intense exercise where you go too far and prioritize fitness gains over full recovery. This is necessary for your short term goal. As you get closer to race day, you will rejuvenate and enter a recovery phase to help your body recuperate before the big event. This is also necessary for your short term goal. However, if it’s a long-term pattern, you’ll start to lose stamina and / or muscle mass depending on what you’ve been training for. Getting to your maximum exertion each day without taking time to fully recover can lead to overtraining, injury, and fatigue.
There are two rings in the app that show your stress and recovery for the day – a quick overview of your findings. Greater efforts can range from 14 to 19+ on the stretch scale. They are shown as a blue line approaching “close” depending on how close you are to your target load (again, everything is relative, it’s not relative), necessarily good or bad to get the maximum). Your recovery is similarly represented as a circle inside your stretch ring, although it’s color-coded to reflect the training zones mentioned above. Switch to Exercise, Rest, and Sleep for a deeper look at your analyzes for day and month (see below).
Courtesy Brittany Smith
Because WHOOP combines yesterday’s stress metrics with the length and quality of sleep at night, some athletes can naturally achieve higher caliber – more workouts at higher intensity without getting overreach if they also prioritize optimal recovery. Sleep charges your body. It regulates growth hormone to aid in muscle building and repair by healing the microcracks caused during exercise. and regulates cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause inflammation in the body and slow recovery.
Can a belt replace a personal trainer? It can – if you know how to use your WHOOP data
1. Immerse yourself in your recovery
When most people work with personal trainers, they are not always honest about diet, stress, sleeping habits, and how much they drink during the week. But WHOOP offers a subjective view of how your body is doing internally in ways a personal trainer could never infer. Based on recovery, the goal of a target exercise makes it easier to understand when to go for more intense exercise or focus on rest and active recovery. The app creates a holistic picture connecting the dots between data and lifestyle behavior so you can draw parallels and uncover what is hindering your recovery.
In the monthly performance evaluation (you can also look over the year), for example, WHOOP has impaired the quality of your sleep in the last 30 days. When your restful sleep is declining, take a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the sleep you get and what your body needs most. A coach or trainer would tell you to perfect your sleep hygiene but don’t know what that means for you. Look at your nightly diary. If alcohol is ruining your recovery, reconsider how and when you drink. Maybe you save the beers for your day of rest rather than the night before a strenuous workout. (Also check out these scientifically-backed natural sleep aid experts you swear by.) Take sleep as seriously as you do your exercise, and you’ll unlock new levels of athletic potential.
2. Use the stretch to measure stress during and outside of exercise
Most wearables track calories, steps, distance and pace. But workouts affect us all differently, depending on how fit we are and how productive our bodies are. With the stress metric, WHOOP helps quantify how strenuous your workout and day are based on your fitness level. For example, running a 5K for an advanced runner might register as a light load of 7-9, but it might be closer to a 14-17 for someone new to running. The distance is still the same, but the effort required by the body is different in each case. WHOOP is unique in that it helps quantify this type of stress on an individual level. You can find out which of these apply to you by measuring different types of exercise with different intensity and duration.
3. Take actionable steps from the journal results
The great thing about the app is that you have the option to keep diaries. In the morning, state whether you’ve consumed caffeine (how much and when), alcohol (how much), taken prescription sleeping pills, looked at a screened device before you fell asleep (how long), read a book, and shared your bed With a partner. If you find too much coffee late in the day, stay up, cut back, or cut yourself off at noon. If you find that your smartphone or laptop is making it difficult to fall asleep, turn off the electronics an hour before bed. The WHOOP Strap 3.0 and the app are less fixated on reaching arbitrary goals like reaching 10,000 steps than on interpreting empirical data. Draw parallels. If you can fall asleep faster by listening to meditation before bed, make it a nighttime habit.
4. Lean on the heart rate variability
As your HRV increases, indicating that you have recovered better, you can have more challenging sessions that can be longer or more intense. When HRV is decreasing, you can prioritize low intensity sessions. Studies have shown that this type of intuitive programming leads to greater fitness gains than following a set program that doesn’t take your individual needs into account. Here WHOOP outshines a personal trainer. Your trainer may have a specific workout order for the week that may not be most beneficial to your fitness gains. However, WHOOP can help you optimize your exercise programs to prevent burnout via HRV. Isn’t it time you gained more autonomy about your health and fitness as fitness culture changes drastically and more responsibility is placed in our hands? WHOOP believes so – and we agree.
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