Building High-Performance Muscle™

The HRV Roundtable


The HRV Roundtable


There's a fine line between training as hard as your body can handle and going too far. Cross it, and your performance falters and your gains slow to a halt. Get it just right, and you'll consistently hit PRs and put out your strongest performances in the competitions that count.

Heart rate variability (HRV) helps get this balance right by illustrating how lifestyle and training affect the nervous system and one's ability to adapt to and resist stress. It's increasingly being used by some of the best athletes and coaches in the world for this reason.

To fully understand how this works and why it matters for everyone from powerlifters to military special operators, read Heart Rate Variability Training.

We gathered eight top strength coaches and PhD researchers from fields including MMA, collegiate football, powerlifting, professional team sports, and endurance to talk about what they've learned through experience about the most effective ways to use HRV.

The ensuing conversation was over twenty pages long, and we've distilled that down into the most important highlights. If you've got a question about the practical application of HRV to your training, you'll find the answer here.


Contributors

Andrew Flatt Strength coach currently completing a Master's in exercise science while working with the strength and conditioning program at California University of Pennsylvania. Canadian National Champion in Collegiate Football (2005) and the Canadian National Champion in raw amateur powerlifting (2010).

Joel Jamieson Strength and conditioning coach working largely with professional MMA fighters. Creator of the Bioforce HRV app.

Simon Wegerif Biomedical engineer and entrepreneur. Owner of HRV Fit Ltd., which creates HRV measurement tools such as iThlete as well as bespoke HRV apps for companies to re-sell.

Jonathan Pope CSCS, owner of Rogue Performance in Denver, working primarily with amateur athletes ranging from rugby players to endurance competitors.

Patrick Ward Strength coach and licensed massage therapist in Phoenix, Arizona. Founder of Optimum Sports Performance.

Mike T. Nelson Doctoral candidate in exercise physiology using HRV to research metabolic flexibility with a Master's in mechanical engineering (biomechanics).

James Heathers Applied physiologist with "a bunch of normal degrees" and a research Master's involving extensive work with HRV. Current research work (and PhD) is concerned with HRV analysis as applied to psychology and non-invasive physiology.

David Tenney Head fitness coach for the Seattle Sounders, currently beginning his fourth season using OmegaWave HRV monitoring.


Getting the Most out of HRV

The HRV Roundtable


Jamieson:

Tenney:


Balls Out Doesn't Work

The HRV Roundtable

Jamieson:

Nelson:


Lifestyle Factors

Flatt:

Ward:

Pope:


Weekly Planning with Athletes

The HRV Roundtable


Tenney:


Baseline Measurements for Athletes

Heathers:

Nelson:

Heathers:


Injury and Illness

The HRV Roundtable


Flatt:


HRV Reflecting Recovery

Flatt:

Jamieson:

Nelson:

Tenney:


HRV and Performance

The HRV Roundtable


Flatt:

Jamieson:

Flatt:


HRV and Soft Tissue Therapy

The HRV Roundtable


Ward:


Day-to-Day Training Modifications

Pope:

Jamieson:


Recovery Workouts

The HRV Roundtable


Ward:

  • Lower the training volume for the day (just drop the total number of sets, but keep everything else the same).
  • Lower the intensity for the day (same sets x reps, but just with lighter loads).
  • Scrap the workout and go to a workout of low intensity bodyweight or med ball circuits.
  • Scrap the workout and go to an easy bike ride in the 120-140bpm range.
  • Scrap the workout and go with soft tissue work and an easy mobility session.

Flatt:

Heathers:

Nelson:


Nutrition

Flatt:

Nelson:


No More Planned Deloads

Flatt:


HRV and Caffeine

The HRV Roundtable


Wegerif:

Heathers:


Wrap Up

Got any other questions about HRV and how to best put it to use? Many of the most knowledgeable coaches in the world on the subject took part in this article and would be happy to continue the discussion in the LiveSpill.


References

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2. Uusitalo AL, Uusitalo AJ, Rusko HK. Heart rate and blood pressure variability during heavy training and overtraining in the female athlete. Int J Sports Med. (2000) Jan;21(1):45-53.

3. Christenson et al 2010 Cell Mol Biol. N-3 fatty acids and cardiac autonomic function in humans 2010 Feb 25; 56(1):131-9.

4. Valera et al 2011 Int J Circumpolar Health. Influence of n-3 fatty acids on cardiac autonomic activity among Nunavik Inuit adults. 2011 Feb;70(1):6-18. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

5. Christenson, JH. Omega-3 polyunsaturated Fatty acids and heart rate variability. Front Physiol. 2011;2:84. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

6. Christensen JH, Schmidt EB. Autonomic nervous system, heart rate variability and n-3 fatty acids. J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown). 2007 Sep;8 Suppl 1:S19-22.

7. Hibino, G., Moritani, T., Kawada, T., & Fushiki, T. (1997). Caffeine enhances modulation of parasympathetic nerve activity in humans: Quantification using power spectral analysis.The Journal of Nutrition,127(7), 1422-1427.

8. Yeragani, V. K., Krishnan, S., Engels, H. J., & Gretebeck, R. (2005). Effects of caffeine on linear and nonlinear measures of heart rate variability before and after exercise. Depression and Anxiety, 21(3), 130-134. doi:10.1002/da.20061

9. Sondermeijer, H. P., van Marle, A. G., Kamen, P., & Krum, H. (2002). Acute effects of caffeine on heart rate variability. The American Journal of Cardiology, 90(8), 906-907.

10. Monda, M., Viggiano, A., Vicidomini, C., Viggiano, A., Iannaccone, T., Tafuri, D., & De Luca, B. (2009). Espresso coffee increases parasympathetic activity in young, healthy people. Nutritional Neuroscience, 12(1), 43-48. doi:10.1179/147683009X388841

11. Nishijima, Y., Ikeda, T., Takamatsu, M., Kiso, Y., Shibata, H., Fushiki, T., & Moritani, T. (2002). Influence of caffeine ingestion on autonomic nervous activity during endurance exercise in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 87(6), 475-480. doi:10.1007/s00421-002-0678-1

12. Rauh, R., Burkert, M., Siepmann, M., & Mueck-Weymann, M. (2006). Acute effects of caffeine on heart rate variability in habitual caffeine consumers. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, 26(3), 163-166. doi:10.1111/j.1475-097X.2006.00663.x

13. McPartland JM, Simons DG. Myofascial Trigger Points: Translating Molecular Theory into Manual Therapy. J Manual & manipulative Therapy 2006; 14(4): 232-239.

14. Shah JP, Gilliams, EA. Uncovering the biochemical milieu of myofascial trigger points using in vivo microdialysis: An application of muscle pain concepts to myofascial pain syndrome. JBMT 2008; 12: 371-384.

15. Shah JP, et al. An in vivo microanalytical technique for measuring the local biochemical milieu of human skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol 2005; 99: 1977-1984.

16. Delaney JP, Leong KS, Watkins A, Brodie D. The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2002; 37(4): 364-71.

17. Takamoto K, Sakai S, Hori E, Urakawa S, Umeno K, Ono T, Hisao N. Compression on trigger points in the leg muscle increases parasympathetic nervous activity based on heart rate variability. Journal of Physiological Science 2009; 59: 191-197.

18. Farinatti PT, Brandao C, Soares PP, Duarte AF. Acute effects of stretching exercise on the heart rate variability in subjects with low flexibility levels. J Strength Cond Res 2011; 25(6): 1579-85.

19. Arroyo-Morales M, Olea N, Ruiz C, del Castilo Jde D, Martinez M, Lorenzon C, Diaz-Rodriguez L. Massage After Exercise ? Responses of Immunological and Endocrine Markers: Single-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):638-44.

20. Arroyo-Morales M, Olea N, Martinez M, Moreno-Lorenzo C, Díaz-Rodríguez L, Hidalgo-Lozano A. Effects of Myo-Fascial Release After High Intensity Exercise: A randomized Clinical Trial. J Manipulative Phisol Ther. 2008;31(3):217-23.



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