HEART RATE VARIABILITY
Hard training is needed to improve performance. But to maximise our improvement, athletes need not only train hard, but also recover well after training. This balance between training and recovery is essential to reach peak performance.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays an important role in the training response.
Illustration: Selye’s adaptation response.
But ANS function and its subsequent response to training is highly variable and individual, and differs with age, training level, genetics, sleep, diet and and psycho-social factors. This individuality serves as an important determinant of the response one has to training. Until recent days, knowing when to back off from training largely consists of coach and athlete guesswork based on experience. If only there was a tool we could use to help us to know when to back off training and emphasise recovery.
Well now there is. Longitudinal measurement of heart rate variability (HRV), or the variation in heart beats, gives insight into how your body is responding and adapting to training, alongside your own individuality and your daily life load. It's a pretty complex subject, and one that we’ve worked hard on over nearly a decade now, contributing to the body of knowledge in the area, primarily through The Plews’ PhD.