'More' HRV Measures: Athletes quantify adaptation to exercise

If you take waking HRV readings on a simple app then you should be in a better place at understanding where you stand today in terms of your readiness to train.

We’ve found it’s not so difficult to combine a bit of common sense with a bit of HRV-based maths to equal a bit more effective training by assisting the train or not-to-train decision.

You might use a smartphone app like BioforceHRV, ithlete or Elite HRV and you might often see something like this.

BioForce HRV Review the5krunner
BioForce HRV Review the5krunner


What else can we look at over and above the train or not-train decision?

To cut to the point. One great indicator MIGHT be a LF:HF ratio** of less than 2 WHEN NOT UNDERTAKING EXERCISE. If this value is less than 2 then the response/adaptation to exercise that is happening RIGHT NOW may well be quite good. Or, if it’s above 2, then your body is not adapting as well as it might.

That is key. It is the response/adaptation to the exercise stimuli that makes us fitter, not the exercise itself.

For the AGE GROUP athlete this is even more important.

As we age the HF drops making this ratio value harder to achieve. Put simply: as we age we need more recovery time!! But you already knew that.

So what?

Well now you have a way to help quantify your adaptation…

So what can you do about it?

Obviously you can’t get younger. But you can increase your HF. Yoga-type relaxation or meditation and/or roller-work/massage on trigger points may well achieve this.

For people addicted to training this then ‘validates’ another form of very low intensity activity…chilling out!

Here’s an example of the LF/HF ratio as shown from a fairly intense swim (ie an in-exercise reading) with the quite advanced KUBIOS HRV software. The software is probably for people doing highly technical analysis (not me!).

to KUBIOS Download Site





I’m not entirely clear if this is built into the abovementioned HRV apps and I’m also not entirely clear if the science backs up what I am saying. My reading is that early analysis thought that the stated LF/HF interpretation WAS true but later work might show that the LF/HF ratio does not say quite what the earlier research thought it was. 

Still it surely can’t hurt to chill out from time-to-time can it?

** FYI

  • HF = parasympathetic function (rest:digest response)
  • LF = sympathetic function (fight:flight response)


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