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confused hrv shoots up but readiness LOW?

I'm tapering for a weekend race. this morning my rest hr was down. fair enough. my hrv was up quite a lot, fair enough. I only swam last night hardish session but not too much. I expected hrv to go up (get better). however my readiness now says low when I thought it would be high.

NB: I only took one reading this morning. but (half asleep) when finished it seemed to show one number and then change (not sure as I say I was half asleep)

I just had my readiness score do the same and all week I have been green with a readiness level of 10. My heart rate was 53 and my HRV shot up to 97 with my readiness right at 5. I did a pretty heavy weight workout on Wednesday, which the bulk of my workout was heavy Deads. I was a readiness level of 10 Thursday morning and Thursday evening I did a really light technical boxing workout. I hit the focus mitts for about 20 min and then did 10 x 1 minute rounds of sparring with 1 min rest in between rounds. I woke up this morning. Like I you said I expected my readiness to go up, but it certainly didn't! My other concern is I have only been using this for 2 months and I have been having a hell of a time getting it to work. It seems to be getting worse too and each time I use it I am having to try it 5 or 6 times before it works. I changed the battery out on my chest strap within the first week of using it since that could have been a potential problem. I have followed everything suggested to trouble shooting while its having problems, but it continues to happen. It's very possible that I was given a bad chest strap from the get go, but Im unsure. Im using a Samsung Galaxy S3 and the BioForce app turns on my blue tooth and locates the strap with no problems, but then I keep getting a incompatible device popping up on my screen. Sometimes it acts likes it working, but it seeming just stop reading my heart rate and it stays steady even if Im doing jumping jacks with the Pulse and HRV lights green. Now with this readiness level showing like this out of no where I am questioning if its working correctly?

Can't address Scott's issue, but I think I can take swing at the original poster's question.

@the5krunner Your statement "I expected hrv to go up (get better)." reflects a misunderstanding about HRV.  Higher isn't better.  Higher means more parasympathetic, lower means more sympathetic.  More parasympathetic isn't necessarily better.

According to Joel's guide, a bump up in HRV after training hints that you're in phase two of the training continuum. (page 52 4th paragraph down "First, unlike in ...")

You'll probably also see an increase in HRV if you get the flu.  But clearly this also doesn't mean it's time to train.  Any time  your HRV is high or low relative to your personal norm, its and indication that you're not going to be able to perform your best on that day (page 73). High readiness is on days when your HRV is around your personal norm.

OK maybe I do misunderstand then.

I train a lot, at least 10 hours a week. That is my norm

So leading up to a race where I taper (read 'rest a lot' and 'don't train much') then what would I expect/hope to see in that week leading up to the race assuming nothing else has changed eg flu?

Assuming non-training related stress is low, then I'd guess it would bounce around a bit and settle into your personal norm.  Then on race day you'd be neither parasympathetic nor sympathetic dominant, and ready as you could be.

from the 78.6 shown it went: 66, 80, 64

so indeed it did bounce about a bit :-) more bouncing around than when doing lots of training. so something different obviously (for me) does happen when tapering.

I think what I am looking for is something like TSB (training stress balance - derived from TRIMP) that takes into account ATL and CTL. ie TSB tells me my race readiness but I don't believe that the way it is worked out is accurate enough for tapers. I had hoped that HRV was a better 'readiness TO RACE' measure.

I guess I'll have to read Joel's paper more carefully.

Since I am pretty new to this, so could you at least let me know if what mine shows is normal or maybe faulty? I have read Joel's book and I am actually just picking it back up to read through again. I do understand that anything to high or to low from your normal HRV score is because I'm under some kind of stress and my body is trying to cope with it to bring about Homeostasis balance. 

If you take a look at how my week was going, would this likely be a faulty measurement? Also, because I didn't quite trust the reading I went ahead and followed my program and went to the gym even though I was at a readiness level of 5. I would think that no working out is best considering. Although, I didn't go full boar, but I did hit my target weight for the target reps. I did taper way back on the amount total sets from 26 work sets to 6 work sets. I generally train my entire body on these days, but at a lower intensity level and 2/3 of the work is calisthenics,


If you have to take the measurement several times something isn't working right.  I take my measurement at most twice.  Each time you re-take the measurement, your stress level probably goes up, and that will affect the result.  I have to get the chest strap wet (I just use water) every morning before it will connect to the device reliably.  I've read elsewhere that depending on how irregular your heart beat is, it can be difficult for the software to figure out which beat intervals to ignore.

Yes, I get mine wet every time before I start it up. I keep a small glass of water and the chest strap on my night stand, so I don't even have to get out of bed. I just roll over hook the chest strap on and get the sensors wet and attempt to get the thing to work. Like I stated above it finds and connects to the strap totally fine. It's a matter of fact I have never had a problem with that. It's when it states establishing heart rate is where it will either just do nothing, no error or anything, or it gives me the error that its an incompatible device. I only ever take the actual reading once, considering that is when it successfully works for me. I have only seen it fail once as far as it stating it had to many errors and asks me to try again. It's 9 out of 10 times telling me my device is incompatible and that's after it connects to the chest strap. 

@Scott, I rarely have a problem with my measurement, so the fact that you're having so many problems suggests something somewhere is very wrong.  Either the bluetooth connection, the strap, or the phone.  Those are a lot of variables.  If I were you, I'd try to diagnose the problem by swapping out hardware one piece at a time.

@the5krunner Interesting point about what happens during your taper.  For me training almost always knocks my HRV down.  Too bad for me since that means I'm stuck in the "alarm phase".  Probably my training load is too high, relative to my conditioning.  For my wife, training seems to raise her HRV when it is low and lower it when it is high.  If she doesn't exercise it drifts up or down.

I had to google ATL, CTL & TSB.  I would think HRV would be a better 'readiness TO RACE' measure because it's based on current physical data.  Looks like TSB is based only on training load.  And as anyone who has had to choose a mutual fund, past performance is no indicator of future gains.  Looks like a person could have a great TSB number and still be running a fever on race day.

In contrast, the likelihood that you are running a fever and have a normal (for you) HRV score is probably close to zero.  TSB type analyses are based on external info.  HRV like core temperature, resting heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate recovery, fasting blood glucose are all concrete measurements of your body.  HRV is a concrete, factual number that says something about your body's current status.  Specifically about the state of your Autonomic Nervous System.

The only catch is that while we know what is being measured, we don't necessarily know the exact implications.  Although, I'm not sure that's really a problem since the general rule still applies.  HRV too high or too low (for you) means it's time to decrease volume or intensity or both or possibly take the day off.

@chris. thank you for your comments, inteesting.

yes indeed I am trying to learn to taper better (I know how to tpare in theory but am trying to find my optimum).

I agree tsb/ctl etc are not great for the taper and yes it is based solely on trainingload. that's why I am looking at hrv. I thought that HRV was supposed to be 90+ for an endurance athlete - whilst I am not an elite athlete I am a pretty good age group athlete and so I was surprised that my hrv in training was where it is in the op graph above. I didn't establish a base reading in a period of non training. so I had expected that over a 10 day to 2 week taper that my reading would get higher; quite a bit higher and maybe in the 80s for a while. However I accept my lack of understanding on this subject and see how there could be up and down variability.

the point I am trying to make is that whilst I am tapering I AM HAVING DAYS OFF, I AM REDUCING LOAD QUITE A BIT. Yet this IS GIVING HIGH HRV (and variable HRV). The optimum taper that I have fond for me so far is to have 3-5 days of complete rest before a race...this does NOT tie in with theory where some training should be undertaken albeit at a reduced level.

the race that I tapered to I did quite well (triathlon) but was off the pace at the end in the run. I put it down to a very hot day and a few other factors that I won't go in to.

I think I just hoped for a traffic-light HRV value that, the higher it was, the better I should do in a race (other things equal).

more surprising was that I found the HRV figures during hard training made sense and did link to how I felt and does trainingload :-) back where I started !!!!!!

all very interesting stuff in any case.

maybe therefore the problem is as you say "too high or too low for (me)" ... ie I have not properly established my baseline. that would make sense and I presume would affect the op graph.

that was only based on 3 or so weeks of data. I have another race in a few weeks and that will base the data then on nearly 2 months of data....let's see how the graphs are then


In general higher HRV means higher aerobic fitness, but still you can't compare HRV values with other people.  It's like with RHR.  Generally speaking lower is better, but there is also wide fluctuations in the population that have more to do with genetics than fitness.  Also a dip in RHR can also be difficult to interpret and ins't always a good thing.  Even in the case of RHR, normal (for you) means better.

According to the book an uptick in HRV on days off indicates being in the adaptation phase.  That's a good thing.  It's supposed to indicate that your body is trying to manage the stress with long term adaptations.

And don't forget that as far as the CNS is concerned stress is stress.  Your body doesn't distinguish between work stress, life stress, and training stress.  It only has a general stress response.

I made the mistake once of thinking high HRV on race day was a good thing once.  In fact I managed my training in the final week thinking it should peak on race day.  Whoops.  I should have read more closely.

For me, unless my HRV is really low, I have the impression that a not very high number lets my heart beat faster sooner and I'm a little more wired and energetic.  When it's very high, it feels hard to get moving.  My HR tends to stay low for a long time.  For me bottoming out on HRV is often followed by getting ill.

:-) good stuff chris

"In general higher HRV means higher aerobic fitness,"  ... modesty aside. I think I'm VERY fit. Maybe the graph shows I have too high an opinion of myself than reality ;-)

as I say above though hopefully the 60s HRV is just indicative of a relatively heavy training load.

The rise to HRV=78.6 does seem to be adaptation. So the graph requires interpretation then: as the colour goes to red (because of a big change in HRV) but, in fact, in terms of readiness to train then I am good-to-train.

Or is it more subtle than that, in that the HRV shows that adaptation is happening and

(being good) I should leave well alone and let my body do that rather than disrupting adaptation with training.

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