What Is HRV (Heart Rate Variability)? 5 Ways to Improve It

what's going on guys Jake Foley with

barb in comm today we are we talking

about HR V which stands for heart rate

variability and more specifically we're

gonna be talking about how whoomp is

helping athletes everywhere assess their

performance and recovery on a day to day

basis so before we dive into the content

of this video I want to give a big shout

out to whoop from financially supporting

this content and also sending us this

whoop strap that I've tried for the last

few weeks to assess my performance and

readiness in this video we're gonna

cover a lot of topics I have an

interview with Ally performance manager

Mike Lombardi over at whoop and he

helped me truly understand how the

algorithm that goes into this strap is

helping athletes everywhere understand

their readiness and recovery on a day to

day basis and how they should adjust

their training accordingly the science

that goes into it is pretty freakin cool

before we dive into all the science and

all the goodness of the content it's a

good idea to first understand what the

heck HRV is heart rate variability in

short is exactly what the name suggests

it's a slight variability in between our

heart rate or heartbeats for that matter

no two beats are timed exactly the same

and this variability has become to

suggest overall well-being fitness and

health so how exactly does HRV tie into

health well a lot of it comes down to

the nervous system the autonomic nervous

system is broken in two branches we have

the sympathetic nervous system and the

parasympathetic nervous system these two

nervous systems are always at play with

one another I like to think of HRV is

like dueling dragons right so these are

always interacting with one another and

HRV is a predictor for understanding the

balance and imbalance we may have in

between these two nervous systems the

sympathetic nervous system is

responsible for all of our

fight-or-flight responses so anything

that's a stressor whether it be physical

physiological or psychological the

sympathetic nervous system will

generally be at play the parasympathetic

nervous system is responsible for like

our even digest kind of responses so

when we're laying down in bed recovering

and resting the parasympathetic nervous

system will be a little bit more active

so HRV is used to suggest balances and

imbalances between these two nervous

systems generally speaking a higher HRV

number will mean that these nervous

systems are highly responsive so if we

have a very big sympathetic nervous

system response the parasympathetic

nervous system will also balance it out

and it will result in a highly

responsive nervous system which is a

good thing

if there is a lower HRV number then that

could mean that the imbalance is going

in one direction so for a quick example

if you're always stressed and always

taking stimulants and just never really

giving yourself a rest then your

sympathetic nervous system will be very

active but your parasympathetic nervous

system will not be equaling all of that

reactive State they are always in the

suggesting that you might have a lower

HRV number which could correlate to

overall well-being and health so a high

HRV number is good and a low HRV number

is bad right

pump the brakes it's not that simple and

this is where things get really

interesting similar to training and just

overall recovery on a day to day basis

HRV requires context into one's

individual state and life so things like

genetics environment and much more can

play into one's HRV number I'm gonna

kick it to Michael and Bharti to help

explain a little bit more if you were to

just google hey what's good HIV could be

broken down by age gender things like


we look at it as it's largely genetic

it's a lot easier to be able to control

like a resting heart rate than it is

your heart rate variability so everyone

can improve their fitness and then I

think we're loop is is unique and can

really help people as understanding

their HRV let's say it is lower doesn't

mean that they're not fit we're just

trying to see how ready you are right

that's your body's daily readiness so if

you think about it as not sure HRV is a

good indicator of overall health we also

want to look at your daily readiness and

are you improving are you increasing

your own hrb relative to your rolling

baseline so that's what people should be

thinking about is like everything okay

this is where I am now how can i one

measure it and then what are the things

I can do to improve it whether that's

augmenting training is it as simple as

just getting better sleep nutrition

hydration there's a bunch of different

things and for each person they have to

kind of play with all the pieces to

increase their HRV so if they're

increasing their HRV their daily

readiness is gonna be better the rest of

our traits most likely also going to go

down so what we tend to see is with an

increase in HRV we're also gonna see a

decrease in resting heart rate that

means that the body's adapting well to

external stimulus and either you're just

training within the right zones or again

maybe you're just a superhuman and you

live in the green the goal is improve

your own HRV relative to yourself a high

HRV plus a low resting heart rate means

that your work your body is incredibly

efficient so if you kind of look at the

two together I think you kind of have to

it's really just work at kinda like your

work your work economy how efficient are

you and how can you improve the two

things so HRV is daily readiness it's

literally all the inputs right all the

inputs how do they affect you and how

are you managing them and then resting

heart rates really just are you getting

fitter are you gonna get er so your HRV

score is an extremely complicated number

it's made up of things like your genes

environment and so much more but what

are some ways you can improve your HRV

right now on an acute and daily basis

we're going to cover five ways right now

number one is staying hydrated being

dehydrated can wreak havoc on your HRV

and if you're active or you're an

athlete then you need to stay hydrated

anyways for your performance number two

is nutrition so obtaining quality

nutrients from Whole Foods will always

fare better than getting more processed

and sugar Latin foods and that honestly

will help your performance in the long

run anyway so just eating a balanced

diet will always fare better for HRV

number three is sleep sleep is huge for

HRV and is probably one of the biggest

indicators for low or high HRV scores so

sleep consistency comes into play how

much you're sleeping and the quality of

your sleep can all impact your HRV

number number four is being mindful of

your stimulant consumption so if you're

always taking pre workouts coffees and

other forms of caffeine then you should

be equally mindful of how much you're

letting your body relax if you're

constantly taking things like

pre-workout and you're overdoing them

then you may not be leaving that

sympathetic state which could wreak

havoc on your HRV score number five and

the final way to improve your HRV score

is to implement and use recovery

modalities outside of just sleeping so

using things like the sauna massage

meditation these can all help support

your parasympathetic nervous system and

your overall rest which can improve your

HRV scores the bottom line is that these

five strategies to improving HRV are not


be complicated but for many they're the

first and most overlooked so when it

comes to improving an HRV I'm just a

daily basis it's always a good idea to

nail down your basics drink enough water

eat properly sleep enough use different

recovery modalities and be mindful of

how often you're stimulating your body

so to help me better understand just how

the loop strap works Mike and I built

out a 20-minute MRAP workout this

workout consisted of a 200-meter run 10

deadlifts 10 power cleans 10 push-ups

and 20 air squats now this is not the

normal way I trained this had my heart

rate going through the roof and I'm not

used to doing such a time-based like

intense workout I train more like a

power lifter my accessories are a little

bit more slow-paced and my volume while

high is never at an intensity that

creates such a high heart rate spike so

that being said the data from that

workout and my conventional workouts

were a lot different and that's where

the nuances come in into how to

interpret the data and how to use it for

your strengths based off of your

activity and sport and help kind of

understand that better

Moop uses a strain coach for every

activity so every kind of sport and

activity you log with this band you put

in exactly what you're doing and then it

will rate your level of expenditure

based on our PE if you complete the

workout and how you rated your

performance and then takes all of that

data and incorporates it into your daily

strain but to help you really understand

what strain is and how whoomp uses it

I'm gonna give the floor to Mike I think

a really cool thing is strain coach the

way we're looking at that is for every

given recovery score you have there's an

optimal day strain that you can continue

to get fitter without putting yourself

in a bad position obviously too if we're

really in a training block we want to

over reach a couple days but we're just

talking about hey I just got on loop

I want to improve a couple things we

want to stay in kind of that optimal

training zone so based on that recovery

you can look at what what it Trance

today I'm gonna go for a run I'm gonna

do a CrossFit session you can set what

goal is so you there's a slider so and

it'll do literally a live accumulation

of your strain once you hit it you get

the check mark and it's like hey that's

good for the day another thing for

people to understand is that strain

isn't like a linear addition so if

you've looked and he said

okay that workout said it was an 11-5

and this workout says it was a 12-2 and

my days drained for the day is 13 right

it's it's not a one plus one equals two

here the big things are understanding

that recovery how to manage the strain

and when to actually pull back right

it's important to pull back or manage

your expectations just because

something's on the schedule or on the

calendar and you wake up and let's say

you're in the red you need to start

thinking about how are you gonna

potentially change the session whether

that's intensity or Vonk it's probably

gonna be one if not both it's not that

you're gonna completely fail but you're

definitely more prone to injury you're

more clear to illness and your capacity

especially over the course of time it's

just gonna be less so whether that's

power output so if you're trying to do a

heavy lift if it's a power lifter you're

probably you're not gonna get close to

your 1rm or you know whatever your

percentage is off aren't for that day

you're not gonna hit them so now that

we've covered how the strain coach can

help you truly gauge your overall daily

expenditure in terms of your activity

and progressing in a smart and

calculated way another thing that ties

into all this is your recovery so

basically on a daily basis what we'll

ask you three things about your sleep

and that is if you want to get by

perform or peak these three differences

will adjust your sleep needs accordingly

based on the recovery you've needed

based on the workouts and strain from

the day before and how you want to

perform the next day tying these all

together is what gives whoop I think

that edge over other monitors that try

to guesstimate how much recovery you

need they're giving you more of an

accurate feedback based off of your

physiology and what you're logging and

help us really understand that deep

sleep zone we're recovering the most I'm

gonna let Mike take the floor and

explain the science behind how whoomp

understands our sleep and then records

and presents it to us so our sleep

staging is very very good so you

actually know this is really how much

REM sleep I'm getting this is how much

slowly asleep I'm getting and that

combination of both how much sleep we

tell you you need so we sleep

performance right how much sleep do you

need versus how much sleep you get

that's part of it but it part of what's

probably you would be reflected in HRV

and resting heart rate is the quality of

the sleep that you're gay

so right you know you can look at it but

that's not a quantified metric

necessarily it's not like hey I spent 60

percent of my night and slow-wave sleep

and REM sleep if you did that your

numbers would probably be outstanding

what we try and tell people is if you

can get those two REM plus slow wave

sleep to be about 45 or 50 percent of

your night's sleep that's really solid

in conjunction with a you know at least

70 percent sleep performance that's

really good so the sleep performance is

a really that's probably the lowest the

base level of hey let's get you some

more sleep then if you really dial into

and say hey I'm getting a hundred

percent sleep performance why is my

recovery not getting them any better and

then you look in you see you're getting

10 minutes of slow-wave sleep means your

body is literally not recovering in any

way so after using moon for a few weeks

I have three takeaways that I think are

super useful for strength athletes the

first takeaway is whoop allows you to

kind of connect your mind and body if

you have a mindset of always trying to

push all the time or if you're on the

mindset that like plays it cautious a

lot and you want an under train almost

when you should be kind of training more

I think whoop is a really good job at

kind of bridging where you should be

sitting so on days when you feel tired

but you have more whoop can tell you

that you can have more strain and be

okay versus when you're overreaching

when your mind is like I want to keep

pushing I want to keep pushing I think

whoop does a good job it can keeping you

in check from just a mind and body

standpoint the second takeaway I took

from whoop is that it allows you to be

objective on another level so outside of

just tracking rpe in your program you

can almost see how your RPE correlates

with the numbers recorded versus what's

recorded in the app almost every number

that was recorded in the app in terms of

my RPE versus the RPE I wrote down and

my program was nearly similar and that's

really cool to see because that means

that I'm being objective with my

training and the whoop device is kind of

clarifying and confirming that I'm being

objective enough to keep progressing in

a smart way

my third takeaway is how useful some of

these recovery numbers can be so

obviously every athlete knows they need

to sleep more but being able to break

that down into three different sections

of get by performing peak it helped me

kind of understand even more how much

sleep I need and how much it can get by

with so basically I don't need to

sleeeeep nine hours a night every night

if I just want to have a decent salad

workout and recover to a pretty good

extent and that's what I like mood for

it helps me remain objective with my

sleep but also helps give me suggestions

and ideas of when I need to sleep more

based off of when I want to push more so

it helps me be a little bit more firm on

myself in terms of my own sleep hygiene

and just my overall recovery practices

so all in all I think those are my three

biggest takeaways it's helped me perform

better in the gym and I really like the

data that it's given me back in terms of

tracking my progress there's no denying

that HRV plays an important role when it

comes to performance readiness and

recovery and whoop is trying to help you

take that number along with multiple

factors and tie it into the context of

your own life and your own training I'd

like woot because they help you

understand that everyone's gonna be

slightly different and they base their

device on your life that adapts and

learns to you if you want to learn more

about the woob device and how it can

help you train better and learn more

about HRV for that matter be sure to

check out our article in google Barban

and whoop