This is my HRV trend for the last month. HRV stands for "heart rate variability," and it is probably my go-to answer when people ask me, "how do you get in great shape?"
What is heart rate variability?
Heart rate variability simply measures the variability of the time between heart beats.
To start with, we measure the amount of time between each heart beat. Next, we measure the variability, or how much change occurs between each heart beat. We can use any number of equations to calculate this, but at the end, we end up with a number like 77 which is what I had today and is representative of Bioforce HRV which is what I use. What does this number mean?
Our parasympathetic nervous system which is our "rest and relaxation" system downregulates or really tries to regulate our heart beat, so there is no variability in our heart rate variability. Our sympathetic nervous system is our "let's get excited and kill the competition!" system. It upregulates our nervous system. This system also creates a lot of variability in the system.
To put it simply, if you're heart rate variability is too variable, meaning, too sympathetic, it will be reflected in a lower score. However, if your heart rate variable is not variable enough, mean, it's too parasympathetic, it'll be reflected in too high of a score.
In the Bioforce universe (bioforcehrv.com), here's ideally where you should be if you are a recreational exerciser (including many athletes, excluding long-distance runners).
75 - 85
(Okay, I've just give you a recipe to get in great shape. All you have to do is go get it, right?
These are the biggest problems I've seen as it concerns why people aren't getting the HRV scores they should:
1. You're too stressed
If you work 40 hours plus a week, and have kids, you got stress. Even if you don't have kids, you're life could be stressful from:
The point is that a lot of stress typically increases the sympathetic nervous system, and you'll see it reflected in your HRV score too.
2. You don't do enough parasympathetic activities.
You need to be practicing non-stressful things like
If you don't do these things, you seriously need to examine your life... or get a divorce.
3. You don't train enough.
In my experience in getting a 75-85 HRV score, you should definitely be training at least 5 times a week. This would likely include two or three strength training sessions and two or three cardiovascular-based sessions. If you can't get that in because you are too busy, don't worry. Wait until you are not busy enough, before you "force" a sixth or seventh session. If you force these in, you'll burn out quick.
4. You don't train long enough.
Sorry to tell you, but that 20 minute walk is not really cardio. While it is parasympathetic-dominant activity and is great for relaxation, it won't magically increase your score up to 80. You need to be doing some serious cardio for at least 30 minutes with a heart rate in the 120's or higher.
This is me combining the best of both worlds with grilling some healthy foods and getting in some intervals at the same time. It looks ridiculous, but if you really want it bad enough, you will find ways to accomplish what you need to do.
These were my stats after the session. In the amount of time it took me to actually cook the chicken and veggies on the grill, I got in a great cardio session.
5. You a lot more crappy foods than you realize
These are not great for your HRV scores:
For those who are looking to drop weight or improve their body composition, it is pretty critical to be strict around these things. You don't need to be irrationally defiant, but you should have very clear plans and boundaries.
Getting a high HRV score is challenging, but with patience, and a willingness to change, you can do it.
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