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Feedback. How do I adjust my training plan and load based on HRV indicators?
29.07.2020
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Boris Shkolnikov, our CTO and triathlete, shows by his own example how Engy Health helps to find a balance between sports, health, business and family every day.

About myself

My name is Boris Shkolnikov, I am 30 years old, I am the CTO and co-founder of the Engy Health medical tech platform. I am actively involved in several sports, I am fond of triathlon, in particular 70.3 distances. As a hobby, I conduct sports training for my IT team. Father of two wonderful children. Engy Health helps you find the balance between sports, health, business and family every day. I share my experience.

Improper loading is the main cause of injuries in beginner athletes

There is an opinion, which is shared even by medical professionals, that athletes are “purposefully unhealthy” people. I believe that you can play sports with a high load on the body and stay healthy. There are vague recommendations for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week to stay healthy. With such a "recommendation" you cannot get in shape even for a ten run, especially for a triathlon distance. The task of an athlete is to find a balance between sports, business / career and family: the load and stress in all areas must be properly distributed, otherwise mistakes are fraught with injuries and disruptions, which triggers the “domino effect” in all areas of life.



The key HRV athletic metrics that I track daily are RMSSD, CV and Pulse. The second tier I look at is the LF / HF Vegetative Balance, Energy (TP - Total Power) and Stress (Stress Index). If an athlete wants to complete a marathon or a triathlon distance, he must work, first of all, with his head: be able to physiologically approach the analysis of his health and load distribution during preparation for the competition.

I take measurements of indicators once a day, in the morning after hygiene procedures before breakfast. For me, it's like brushing your teeth.

How do I analyze my HRV scores with Engy Health?

I am looking at RMSSD initially. RMSSD is the HRV (Heart Rate Variability) recognized in sports physiology as an indicator of the body's recovery in training conditions. I work with RMSSD according to the standard methodology: an increase in RMSSD indicates an increase in recovery and the body's readiness to adapt to a greater load, a decrease in RMSSD is a decrease in adaptation to a load.

Here is an example of my RMSSD graph in Engy Health service and my interpretation of the data on history:


  1. My norm, it's the baseline or baseline. The training process is in progress.

  2. An increase in RMSSD indicates an adaptation to the training process and an increase in physical fitness. I decide to increase the load.

  3. The usual training process is in progress. The graph shows a drawdown somewhere after training (especially at high intensity), somewhere a set. These are natural fluctuations, the task is to stay in the blue corridor and slightly raise it (the norms are adapted daily according to the results of measurements).

  4. From 06.06 poor health, weakness, lack of desire to train. Contrary to self-feeling, he forbade himself to be lazy and went to a tempo running workout, ran 23 km at a pace of 4: 45 min / km. Result: the next day, the regular drop is even lower, the body broke down and the lower limit of the norm was broken, which is one of the main indicators of the need for rest and recovery.

  5. I return to light training in a week. I start with minimal loads, followed by growth.

  6. Work trips began: I don't sleep well, I miss workouts, alcohol and stress from tooth extraction. The form degrades before our eyes.

  7. The period of working trips is over. I give myself a few days of rest. The life regime has returned to normal. In addition, I learned that the half in Kaliningrad will still take place, which gives an additional charge of motivation not to lose everything that was recruited in the offseason. According to the RMSSD schedule, I see that the body is ready for an increase in the load, I am intensively preparing for the start. I do heavy interval work as well as long-term aerobic workouts, bricks (lead + run).

What is important to me when analyzing RMSSD?

  • So that the 7-day trend, indicated by the lilac line, goes upward or, at least, stabilizes at the same level: it means that my body is coping with the load

  • To keep the 7-day trend within the corridor of blue lines - my individual 30-day RMSSD norm. In this case, I am stabilized.

  • Sometimes I encounter a situation when the daily RMSSD falls below the corridor. For me, this is a reason to reduce the workload and find the reasons: a busy work schedule, flights, inappropriate diet, lack of sleep.

  • Correction of loads with RMSSD is a sign of a reasonable attitude to one's health and correct correction of the load during training and preparation for competitions. 


What metrics do I also look at for a comprehensive understanding of the load level?

CV (RMSSD fluctuation rate over 7 days)  

This indicator shows the spread of RMSSD over the last 7 days. The higher it is, the more unstable my recovery is, the lower it is, the more stable I am. An increase or stabilization in RMSSD should be accompanied by a decrease in CV. I marked these periods with the green squares below.


Naturally, when the CV “wobbles” in a new training cycle and during interval training, however, it is desirable to narrow the CV when approaching the start. There are studies showing improvement in speed performance in control races with low CV. In the Engy Health application, CV can be seen either on a separate graph or directly on the RMSSD chart - after all, the narrowing of the "blue" channel, consisting of the upper and lower norms, is a decrease in CV.



Pulse

It is known that the more trained the body, the lower the pulse. Therefore, an increase in RMSSD should be accompanied by a decrease in the heart rate graph in the general case. Engy Health also shows the channel from the lower and upper heart rate. The challenge for the athlete is to strive to lower the heart rate. If the pulse rises, this is a sign of maladjustment and, as a rule, evidence of a deterioration in shape.

In Engy Health, it is convenient to track the change in heart rate on the history by comparing the data with RMSSD and CV. The service allows you to see the 7-day heart rate average, as well as the upper and lower bounds for understanding the indicators of normal heart rate fluctuations. 


Balance LF / HF

LF is an indicator that indicates the state of the sympathetic system, which is responsible for tension and mobilization of forces in the body. HF is an indicator of the parasympathetic system responsible for recovery and rest. The LF / HF ratio should strive for balance, that is, ideally to 1. I look at this optional indicator for myself to determine the readiness of the body for training "in the moment".

I strive for the indicator to be "green", that is, normal. Most often, after a few days of the “yellow indicator”, the RMSSD decreases. The task is to understand what is the reason and eliminate the stress factor. It often happens that after difficult workouts the next day, the balance "sways" towards sympathy, which is quite natural. The main thing is that it quickly bounced back into the green zone (preferably the next day).  

In Engy Health service, the LF / HF Balance indicator looks like this:



Summing up. What does Engy Health give me?

When you start tracking the RMSSD indicator, and then try to imagine the training process without it, you realize how good it is that it still exists. This is a qualitatively new level in the control of your training and load. When there are objective numbers, you can analyze and approach the process intelligently, intellectually, and not “by feeling”. For myself, I see the following advantages of the service: 

  • It gives me the opportunity to independently adjust physical activity based on objective physiological data.
  • Objectively records the presence of progress or regression of physical fitness. Most often, it is impossible to determine only by sensations.
  • Gives me the opportunity to see the stability of progress
  • Allows you to analyze the history of training "in numbers" in order to better identify stress factors, see their influence on the state of the body and exclude them in the training process later
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