Few things have changed my approach to my own training like monitoring my Heart Rate Variability (HRV) with Bioforce HRV. While I hate to use words like “revolutionary” and “game changing” I have to use terms like that when describing the impact this tool can have on your approach to training. By improving both your ability to make daily training decisions and to analyze the impact of your training from a big-picture perspective it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the age old question – “How hard should I train today?”
Managing the stress from your training program and everyday life is what it is all about – too little and you don’t improve, too much and you become overtrained.
I’ve been using this training tool for over 4 months now and it has become an essential part of my routine – I honestly hesitate to go into a workout without using it. While HRV technology dates back to the ’60′s and was developed by the Soviet Union to monitor the stress on their Cosmonaughts, it remains a little known and even less understood training tool. The science behind HRV is complicated and, to me at least, fascinating, however the main thing to know is that your HRV is a direct reflection of how much and what types of stress you are under.
This allows you to know exactly how rested or recovered you are from your previous training session(s) and everyday activities, allowing you to make adjustments to your planned training if needed. Sometimes how you “feel” doesn’t accurately reflect the condition your body is really in and in these cases listening to your body can lead you in the wrong direction. Being successful with your training program over the long run is like a chess match and without knowing exactly what your recovery looks like each day you are trying to move without being able to see the entire board.
Under these circumstances it can be easy to make the wrong move. While a single wrong move won’t hurt too much, making too many wrong moves over the course of weeks and months can result in sub-par results and/ or overtraining. Bioforce HRV gives you an objective tool to make smarter training decisions.
It does this by giving you a daily HRV number (normally between 50-100) and then turning that number into a Green, Orange or Red reading. Green means that you are good to go, train normally. Orange means that your system is still a little more stressed than normal and that you should reduce your volume a bit to avoid piling on too much stress and unknowingly tipping the scales towards overtraining. Red means that your system is still under significant stress and won’t benefit from additional stress through training so you need to take a day off and focus on recovery techniques.
In my experience using the Bioforce HRV Monitor over the last 4+ months I’ve found four instances that HRV monitoring has become essential…
- Some days I wake up and feel a bit rundown but my HRV reading is Green, telling me that it is more in my head than anything else. On these days I know that I need to get in the gym and train hard anyways because I know that I’m not digging myself into an already deeper hole.
- Some days I wake up and feel fine but my HRV is an Orange reading which means that I need to cut back on my training volume by 20-30%. By doing this I avoid piling too much stress onto an already stressed system and getting pulled towards overtraining.
- Some days I wake up and feel a bit rundown and my HRV reflects that. On these days I can cut back on my volume or do an easier workout and know that I am not just being lazy.
- Some days I wake up and my HRV is Orange or even Red but I have a planned ride that I can’t skip out on. For example, when I spent 4 days riding in Crested Butte this summer I woke up after 3 hard days of riding to a Red reading but I wasn’t going to skip out on the ride to stay at the cabin and rest- fun trumps HRV! When I do this I know that I need to be extra aggressive with my recover strategies after the ride, making sure I get plenty of quality nutrition and rest to minimize the damage.
Without the ability to monitor my HRV it would be impossible to make these calls with 100% confidence that they are the right ones to make. What makes the system really cool is that it looks at your body’s response to everything that can place stress on it, including what life throws at you each day. These everyday stresses that life places on us are often unaccounted for when monitoring training loads but they can have a very real impact on you how you respond to your training.
Altogether, HRV monitoring allows you to make better decisions based on a more accurate view of the entire training process. Until recently the only way to access the technology was through a $15,000 piece of equipment called the Omegawave, which made it inaccessible to the vast majority of the training public. However, Bioforce HRV now puts HRV monitoring within reach of every serious mountain biker.
Bioforce HRV was developed by Joel Jamison, MMA coach and author of the book Ultimate MMA Conditioning. Joel is one of the few people in the United States to have invested in an Omegawave device and has been using HRV monitoring extensively with his athletes for more than a decade. After seeing the impact that HRV monitoring could have on an athletes preparation Joel decided to create something that would allow you to access the same technology at a fraction of the price and put it all in the palm of your hand through your smart phone.
The Bioforce HRV system consists of a downloadable app and a small plug-in receiver which picks up your heart rate (it works off a standard heart rate monitor chest strap) for 2:30 minutes and then translates that info into a number and color code. It is recommended that you do it first thing in the morning before doing anything that may artificially increase your heart rate, like drinking caffeine.
It takes about 5 minutes to get the chest strap on, set it up and get a reading and after a few days it becomes part of your routine – I will sit at the kitchen table with my phone and receiver sitting on the table and read a book while the HRV reading is being taken, making a productive use of my first few minutes each morning. After seeing my reading I can make a quick decision about my planned workout and/ or ride (go as planned, cut back a little or take a day off) and go on about my day.
I think that HRV monitoring is going to be a huge part of the future of fitness training and Bioforce HRV is the best way for you access that future today. Joel is also working on a massive update that I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peak of. It includes a computer interface that will automatically be updated each day from your phone and will allow you to easily track your weekly and monthly HRV loads, giving you an even more precise view of the amount of stress you have been placing on your system versus its ability to recover from that stress.
I really can’t recommend Bioforce HRV enough. Managing the stress from your training program and everyday life is what it is all about – too little and you don’t improve, too much and you become overtrained. I recommend it to all of the riders I work with and if you are serious about getting the most out of your training program then incorporating Bioforce HRV into your tool box is something you should consider as well.
As a special incentive for my blog readers I’m going to give you a FREE copy of my newly updated Recovery Tracking Spreadsheet when you purchase the Bioforce HRV system – but only through the end of the week!
This new Recovery Tracking Spreadsheet is one of my “secret weapons” that I use to help me stay on top of my own training and, along with the Bioforce HRV system, gives you a unique insight into the other half of the training equation, which is…
Training + Recovery = Results
If you are going to spend you time, energy and effort riding your bike and working out (the Training side of the Results equation) without also paying attention to the Recovery side of the equation you are probably working harder than you need to and not seeing the results you deserve. Now you have access to the tools to help you avoid that pitfall and know exactly how hard you should work from day to day and week to week, adding up to better results than ever.
So, when you invest in the Bioforce HRV system just email your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you my new Recovery Tracking Spreadsheet – which also comes with a video walkthrough of how to use it – and you can join the elite group of mountain bikers who understand that fitter riders have more fun and that guessing about how hard to train everyday isn’t the best way to get fit