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Heart Rate Variability and Overtraining

Old 07-13-22, 09:17 AM
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Heart Rate Variability and Overtraining

Does anyone here monitor their heart rate variability (HRV) to determine if they are overtraining? Is it useful?

I'm training heavily for the Hunstman Senior Games in October, and I want to make sure I don't overdo it. If HRV is a good measure of fatigue, I can use it to guide my training load.

The Apple Watch records HRV, so it's pretty easy to measure. I notice that after longer and harder workouts, my HRV will drop the next day, but it comes back up in a day or two.

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Old 07-13-22, 10:58 AM
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HRV is one of many things I use to keto myself from having too much fun. I don't trust any of the data points available 100%, so I use them as a lot of second opinions.
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Old 07-13-22, 11:34 AM
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I dug into it a while back, years ago, stuck with it for about 3 months, moved on. Didn't really lead me to conclusions or strategies that I couldn't already feel in my legs. Important: I was not "super dedicated" to training, I have a lot of fun in the rest of my life, too. One night of "12 ounce weightlifting" made HRV look like I did a century the day before. I still get the HRV stats in my iPhone Health app, but the numbers are so low (suspect) that I might be dead already...
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Old 07-13-22, 11:50 AM
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I used HRV every morning. It is one of several useful indicators to avoid going too hard.
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Old 07-13-22, 08:16 PM
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I simply check my min heart rate (MHR) the next morning after recovery day(s). That should tell me if I'm over training or still need more recovery.

For example if my present MHR is 42, but I'm consistently showing 48 it's typically a good sign I'm over-training or needed more recovery or something wrong elsewhere like nutrition, sleep, etc. It happens when doing graveyard shifts at my job may delay recovery.
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Old 07-16-22, 01:57 PM
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As I got older, my morning resting and orthostatic HRs became less reliable indicators of training state, so I added morning HRM about 2000 days ago, taken both with a phone app and my Polar watch. For sure, if your HRV drops and keeps dropping and then stays down, something's wrong. That's what clued me to see a doctor and discover that I had PMR. I make my phone HRV more informative by doing 3 minutes lying down and then 5 minutes standing. A drop in my standing HF power is my first clue that something's up, usually nothing, just variations in training response, but sometimes it's been something.
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Old 07-17-22, 04:59 PM
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haven't used HRV, cause I don;t have a device to measure/record...
back when I was training with 'intent', along with heart rate during training and heart rate checks morning and evening, I would also check BP...
everyone will have their own range of 'norm' as relates to BP as well as resting heart rate; so it's really a 'relativity' thing.
I found that BP was an 'earlier' indicator of over-training, later picked up in heart rate while riding/training and then increased level in resting.
Interestingly, it was 'low' not high blood pressure which correlated with signs of over-training.
I was normally around 120/low 80s/high 70's , back when. And over-training would show with BPs of less than 110, down near 100 over 60s...
These days 'norm is 125+- and mid 80s. 8 weeks ago I dropped to low 100s over 60s and 1 day after these 1st low readings, I showed some serious symptoms, which a visit to the ER proved to be a really serious case of Food poisoning. HR variance didn;t show up until the day the food poisoning symptoms became obvious
so BP, in conjunction with other signs, like HR, and prolly HRV, might alert sooner to 'system wide' issues...
...low BP persisted for over 6 weeks... and I didn't feel close to current 'normal' until last Sat... 9th...
BP can be another useful tool
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Old 07-17-22, 11:45 PM
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Didn't think BP can be used as indicator. I thought BP only concerned cholesterol levels and whether you ate crustaceans. Mine never got unusually low.

I also had food poisoning recently this weekend and. It's less severe than yours and glad you're okay. My BP went up a bit instead and with throbbing headache. Different symptoms I guess.
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Old 07-19-22, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Does anyone here monitor their heart rate variability (HRV) to determine if they are overtraining? Is it useful?

I'm training heavily for the Hunstman Senior Games in October, and I want to make sure I don't overdo it. If HRV is a good measure of fatigue, I can use it to guide my training load.

The Apple Watch records HRV, so it's pretty easy to measure. I notice that after longer and harder workouts, my HRV will drop the next day, but it comes back up in a day or two.

Is this RMSSD or something else?

Like if somebody told you they got a power meter, said 150, and then asked you for advice. You would want to know if 150 is their FTP, the average power from their last ride, a number they saw for a second while riding, the number of kJ they burned, or what? That's what I'm asking about your HRV.
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Old 07-19-22, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Is this RMSSD or something else?

Like if somebody told you they got a power meter, said 150, and then asked you for advice. You would want to know if 150 is their FTP, the average power from their last ride, a number they saw for a second while riding, the number of kJ they burned, or what? That's what I'm asking about your HRV.
It's like watts. You know that's power. RMSSD is measured in ms. RMSSD is a standard HRV measurement, only one of several possible measurements, but the most used because it best reflects parasympathetic activity, the thing that's most important to the athlete as a measure of recovery. Almost all HRV gadgets and software show RMSSD. One could also watch SDNN, also measured in ms, if your device supported that.
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Old 07-19-22, 02:14 PM
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I've just been through my season peak last week and now I'm tapering for my event. I've been my only coach for the past 25 years but old data isn't terribly reliable at my age. Every year is an adventure. This last couple weeks is as close as I've ever come to OTS. I was doing big two-day CTL jumps and I went a bit over my capacity. Now I'm recovering and hopefully this will be taken care of by my normal taper. To get a fuller picture of my condition, I take my HRV both resting and standing and add the two rMSSD numbers together.

What this looked like HRV-wise was that the sum of my rMSSDs dropped down into the low 20s and mostly stayed there. Some of those 22 rMSSD sums were around 14 resting and 8 standing. For most of you, that would probably mean you are almost dead, but my numbers have always been abnormally low.

I also lost power of course and my HR was depressed. That's fine for a couple days, but this has been going on for a week. I finally saw an upturn today, so things are probably OK, and maybe even optimal. 15' on the rollers today was OK, but about all I felt like doing.
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Old 07-19-22, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Is this RMSSD or something else?

Like if somebody told you they got a power meter, said 150, and then asked you for advice. You would want to know if 150 is their FTP, the average power from their last ride, a number they saw for a second while riding, the number of kJ they burned, or what? That's what I'm asking about your HRV.
I don't know what "RMSSD" is. The graph above is from the Apple Health app, which displays this explanation:




Edit -- Further information from the Apple developer site:

HealthKit calculates the Heart rate variability (HRV) by measuring the variation between individual heartbeats. While there are multiple ways of computing HRV, HealthKit uses SDNN heart rate variability, which uses the standard deviation of the inter-beat (RR) intervals between normal heartbeats (typically measured in milliseconds).
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Old 07-20-22, 04:36 AM
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HRV is an area where I do not feel very knowledgeable despite using it. I can't explain it like cfboy can. Alan Couzens has a series of blog posts about HRV that might be helpful, they were for me (today).

I use an amalgamation of my training load (CTL and TSB), how I feel, how I slept, mood, HRV, and the nature of recent rides to determine my workout type and duration. I am very careful about when I do a HIIT session. Not so careful about a zone 2 ride. I have had several long rides in the past month (400km and 600km) and therefore no structured HIIT for almost a month. I had food poisoning that took over a week to resolve, yes, it was obvious on the HRV. So, I was started to feel ready for a hard workout but the HRV data was not flashing a green flag but not signalling red. On 5 hill climbs I did 5 PBs. So, HrV is just one piece of information. Flash forward two days and my LF/HR ration is terrible and I slept poorly. I did a good solid 2-3 hour zone 2 ride in 90+ heat with humidity. Next day. I went on a zone 2 ride and I barely could ride. Looking at my HrV data retrospectively, I should have taken a day off but I felt good at the kitchen table. My LF/HF ratio is coming down but I decide to take a day off today. I have ridden 10/12 days including a 600k and one pretty hard hill workout where I hit new PB for two short power durations. (1 minute and 3 minutes).

My reasoning for using HRV is to try to predict if I will get a training response to a hard anaerobic workout and/or whether it will detrimental because even though I am only in the 64th year and still feel young, I know I can only get stronger during recovery but more importantly, time off the bike due to overreaching is very detrimental. So, if I need a rest....it only means I will come back stronger after it. OTOH, if I overdo it, it might take several days or more to recover. I never want two zeros in a row.

https://www.alancouzens.com/blog/overtraining_HRV4.html
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Old 07-20-22, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
I don't know what "RMSSD" is. The graph above is from the Apple Health app, which displays this explanation:




Edit -- Further information from the Apple developer site:
HealthKit calculates the Heart rate variability (HRV) by measuring the variation between individual heartbeats. While there are multiple ways of computing HRV, HealthKit uses SDNN heart rate variability, which uses the standard deviation of the inter-beat (RR) intervals between normal heartbeats (typically measured in milliseconds).
I'm not a doctor or sport scientist. I know that people have settled on RMSSD. Google has some info comparing that against SDNN.


As many of you know, HRV can be computed in many different ways, starting from our basic unit of information, the RR intervals (beat to beat differences in instantaneous heart rate). The sports science community through the work of many, including Martin Buchheit, Daniel Plews, Paul Laursen, Andrew Flatt, Martin Esco, Fabio Nakamura and a few others, in the past 10-15 years, settled on rMSSD as the most meaningful and practical feature to use in applied research and real life, when working with athletes.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) features: can we use SDNN instead of rMSSD? A data-driven perspective on short term variability analysis10/12/2018 Blog post by Marco AltiniOne really good thing about the sports science community, is that we have settled on what feature to use when we talk about heart rate variability (HRV). As many of you know, HRV can be computed in many different ways, starting from our basic unit of information, the RR intervals (beat to beat differences in instantaneous heart rate). The sports science community through the work of many, including Martin Buchheit, Daniel Plews, Paul Laursen, Andrew Flatt, Martin Esco, Fabio Nakamura and a few others, in the past 10-15 years, settled on rMSSD as the most meaningful and practical feature to use in applied research and real life, when working with athletes. Why rMSSD? Well, first of all, most sports scientists are physiologists, they know what they are talking about when considering physiological processes in the human body, and it turns out what also came up from all these studies, is that there is mainly one thing that can be measured using short term HRV features: parasympathetic activity. Without going into another primer on HRV (see this post if you are looking for one), parasympathetic activity represents our body's rest & recovery system, and can be captured in terms of HRV: a stressor might for example induce a physiological response in terms of reduced parasympathetic activity, which translates into lower HRV as the nervous system modulates heart rhythm in response to such stressor. Parasympathetic activity acts quite fast, in the matter of seconds. How do we capture these fast changes? rMSSD, due to how it is computed (just math), captures fast changes in instantaneous heart rate, hence it reflects very well parasympathetic activity. It's also easy to compute and standardized, hence we can be certain we all talk about the same thing, which is a good starting point.

Wonderful, we have a feature that everybody agrees on, and has also a clear link to how physiology works. All problems are solved and we can use HRV4Training or our favorite HRV app to gather data, compare results, and learn a bit more about how our body responds to training and life stress.
Well, not so fast.

​Unfortunately, Apple decided to provide no access to raw PPG data in the Apple Watch and no access to RR intervals either (like a Polar strap would do), as well as not to implement standard communication protocols (e.g. the bluetooth smart heart rate profile). This means we cannot compute rMSSD or any other feature ourselves, as we'd do with another sensor. Additionally, they decided to limit communication between the Watch and any app just via the Health app, and use only one HRV feature in the Health app: SDNN. The reasons are of course unknown and undocumented. There is no access for developers, and no possibility to communicate with anyone involved in this work at Apple. Anyhow, now that we got as far as understanding what is used in Health (SDNN), and we know all the limitations around it, the problem remains, how do we deal with it?

https://www.hrv4training.com/blog/he...ility-analysis
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Old 08-24-22, 02:22 PM
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https://www.garmin.com/en-US/garmin-...ts/hrv-status/
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Old 08-25-22, 06:27 AM
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Thank you. This is a very timely thread for me.
First of all I'd like to acknowledge that I'm not accepting the metrics that my Edge 530 gives me as Gospel. I'm hoping to use them more as a benchmark of my state of fitness on any particular day and watching them to see if I'm improving on those metrics. I recently began riding with a Power Meter, so now, along with the HRM I'm getting reports with a lot more data. I think I've got a pretty good beginner's understanding of everything but it still confuses me at times. Although I'm finding that the more data that is collected over time it seems to be painting a more coherent picture of my health that I can understand. I guess I really don't have much to add regarding this thread's title and it's more of just a warning to most of you that I feel I'll be posting in this sub-forum much more in the near future.
I'm also concerned about how nutrition plays a part in the HRV too.
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