Interpreting Monthly HRV Load – Just measuring fatigue ?

Interpreting Monthly HRV Load

Let’s talk “Monthly HRV Load”…

You’ve seen it in the box on the left, but you’ve been too caught up in what your daily HRV score is telling you about how to adjust your workouts to really care.

After all, you can’t go wrong with the simple “green means go, amber means slow” guidelines, right?

While it’s tempting to limit HRV data to its day-to-day utility, the real juicy information lies within the bigger picture:

Am I receiving enough training stimuli to achieve my goals (performance, body composition, or other)?

Am I continuing to see progress or am I at risk of plateauing?

Are my methods, intensity, or volume more than my body can sustain over time?

These are the kinds of questions that can be explored when looking at monthly HRV load.

Nothing But Green

A green monthly HRV load is indicative of a relatively low level of stress over the last 30 days, which can be good or bad, depending on your goals at the time.

If your primary goal is to improve your fitness and HRV, a low monthly load may mean that you are not providing with your body with a large enough stimulus to continue seeing improvements in your conditioning.

One of the biggest misconceptions about HRV is that if you’re training hard, you should expect to see a moderate or high load. The reality, however, is that if you’re been on the same program and aren’t seeing much improvement in the gym or in your training, chances are that the body has already adapted to the program and this will often result in a low HRV load.

Once the body adapts to a program, the body perceives it as a low level of stress, regardless of how hard you “feel” like you’re training.

What you feel and what the body perceives are often two different things.

When looking at Monthly HRV Load, this means that context is important.

Have you experienced improvements in your performance, body composition, or other goals?

If yes, then you shouldn’t worry about having a low Monthly Load.

After all, the purpose of HRV monitoring is not to train yourself until you see amber readiness scores.

The purpose is to monitor you training so that you see continual progress while avoiding injury and overtraining; so long as you’re seeing that progress, don’t worry.

However, if you have been experiencing plateaus and your progress has been stagnant, consider tweaking your training load to induce the changes you’re striving for.

More often than not, a MED Monthly HRV load is a sign that your overall program and lifestyle is the right mix of stress and recovery.

This will be reaffirmed with a positive change in Monthly Change, or how much your average HRV score has improved over the last 30 days.

Amber Load

So this means if you see an amber monthly HRV load, it’s probably a good sign.

You are likely providing your body with enough stimuli to promote positive changes in performance, body composition, etc.

The key to maneuvering this phase is to carefully monitor your HRV for signs of overreaching or plateauing.

Think of the amber monthly load as the fulcrum of a teeter totter:

You are currently balanced, providing yourself with enough stimuli to improve but not so much that you increase your risk of injury and disease.

However, with a slight increase or decrease in stress load you could easily tip the teeter totter to the right or left, into the regions of exhaustion or undertraining.

Red Alert

If you’re monthly HRV load is red, something needs to change quickly.

You’re placing a higher amount of stress on your body than it can recover from and you are at increased risk of injury and disease.

Does this always mean that your physical training is running you into the ground?

Not necessarily.

Since HRV looks at the impact of all stressors on your autonomic nervous system, several influences are likely at play at once.

Possible culprits could range from a lack of sleep, to a break-up, to increased work stress, to a change in diet…

Critically examine the components of your daily life to get to the root of the problem.

Summary

The Monthly HRV Load is an important gauge to understand how your body is adapting to your program and lifestyle as a whole. Most often, a MED Load is the right amount the majority of the time, though you always want to consider the context of your training and changes to performance/fitness over the last 30 days.

If you’re seeing LOW Monthly HRV Load and very little or no progress, it’s likely time to change your program and/or up the volume/intensity a bit.

A MED Monthly load, on the other hand, is generally a good the right balance between stress and recovery and is what you’ll want to see more often than not.

Seeing a HIGH Monthly Load, however, is cause for concern and you’ll want to review you current training program and lifestyle stress to see what may be causing it. Although it’s normal to see a HIGH HRV load on occasion, if this is sustained for very long, you’re at a high risk for overtraining and/or injuries.

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