Heart Rate Variability (HRV) - fad or the next step in planning your training?


Been looking at a few articles on HRV and the benefits of using it to asses when you need recovery. Does anyone use it? Seen results? Anything surprising/unexpected from the data? Is it telling you to rest when you ‘felt’ OK, telling you you should push on when the mind said time for a rest day?


@AndyJ I got one last year. Remarkably difficult to get useful data out of it to really tell me something. I got an Elite HRV one through one of the crowd finding things. It also had some functioning issues in that it was hard to use and that of course is off putting in itself.

I liked the theory and science behind it but as with so many of these things, the ‘so what’ didn’t end up being strong enough for me. Possibly different for people with more athletic focussed days and so on where numbers are easier to compare (compared to me).

In short, not for me (yet) but I’d like it to be if they become easier to use and can get useful ‘insight’


I did see some positive reviews of the app HRV4Training, which uses your phone camera for the HR measurement. I am sceptical but supposedly has been scientifically verified as accurate!. So £10 for the app is not a big investment. Then is just getting in the habit for a daily measurement.


Be great to hear how you get on with that one. Especially if the app actually gives you a ‘so what’ at the end of it


Very interesting question. I can only draw on my experience. In past years I was crazy about tracking HR and power vs heart rate. And decoupling of HR vs Power over time. I was obsessed with it and it drove me insane. I was so focused on it as meaningful metric.

My new coach does not believe in any of that stuff. So I threw it all out the window and stopped wearing a HR monitor all together. What I found is the HR would tell me I should be tired or not able to do an effort because I was approaching my max HR. I don’t need my HR to tell me that. I just need to do the work regardless of what my HR is doing.

So separating my training from the HR monitor has been an amazing thing for me. I’m more relaxed when I do my workouts and can focus on doing the work.

You should try it. Just don’t use the HR monitor for a month and see what happens.


A slightly different metric though Drew. Much more about recovery and measuring accumulated stress than on the bike performance.

I agree you can sometimes limit your performance on the bike by being freaked out by your own HR when riding. I don’t think I ever really ride watching my HR, just interesting to look at after the workout.


Yep. HRV is a daily check (not during exercise - typically on waking) to get a sense of how you’re feeling and some athletes using it ahead of the days efforts as a ‘marker’ or ‘indicator’

The HRM thing - totally get that. I’m a geek though and I like the numbers. I’m often curious about the link between HR and Power. It doesn’t define the training.

I guess your point could be that as it’s heart related and affected by so many things you could just ignore it in the same way one can ignore HR during workouts as you know how you feel on a given day.
Hey it’s another thing to see if it can help predict things. Worth a try.


I also don’t have experience with a HRV monitor. I suspect, as Martin says, it is only useful if you know how to read it and what to do with it. And are you really going to rest more if you have one and it is telling you to, or are you going to find excuses on one of the many variables that could be affecting the results to just train as you want to?

I got one of those sleep apps once, which tells you the quality of your sleep based on amount of time in deep sleep, etc. I stopped using it because I had no idea how to “sleep deeper” if I had nights of light sleep/poor sleep quality. I actually started feeling tired after seeing that I had a “poor quality” sleep, so I stopped using it.

Like any other training tool, you would have to use it in conjunction with the other tools and how you feel.


Well it is a cheap experiment at $10, compared to most cycling related purchases. My main motivation is I often feel my training load/stress/TSB does not always equal how my legs/mind feel. It would be nice to have some confirmation to say this time harden up and get it done or the opposite and know that I need to dial back the intensity today to make the most effective use of my week.

It will take a week to establish a baseline and then the app should start recommending wether you are good to do intensity or might want to dial it down that day.

I won’t live my life by it, just interested wether it is an easy tool to incorporate into the training toolbox


I just realized I totally missed the point of your original post. Sorry about that.

Being a data geek, I have been interested in this topic. But, I’m honestly trying to decouple my mind from all this data. I think it’s become overwhelming.

I use my legs to tell me when I’m tired. I generally do a 10 to 15m “medium” warmup before every workout. I can tell in that warmup if I’m tired or not. I can also feel it in the first effort. If I’m feeling tired I generally try to hit the numbers, but just barely. I also recover between efforts at 150 watts.

The other thing we focus on is repeatability. My workouts are hard, but never so hard that I cannot go hard or slightly harder the next day. I try to avoid going so hard that I need a super easy day to recover. With this approach, I never really need to worry about my HR telling me I need rest. I get a rest week after 4 or 5 weeks on, but I rarely feel crushed.


Go for it Andy! And please report back on how things are going!