In last week’s Thriving Holiday Travel story, we mentioned we’d be looking for signs of improvement in Team Thrive’s data as the holiday season progresses. We’re pleased to report that in the four weeks since the team began, we’ve found one very clear indication of success–HRV (heart rate variability) is on the rise!
From November 20 through December 3, the team’s average daily HRV was 59. Over the past two weeks (December 4-17), that number has climbed to 61. Considering that there are nearly 350 people on the team, a 3.4% bump in the overall average is a significant step in the right direction.
If heart rate variability (the measurement of the intervals between your heart beats) is a metric you’re not familiar with, here’s an explanation of what HRV is, and why it is such a valuable tool for athletes. HRV is also one of the primary components used to calculate WHOOP Recovery.
One question we constantly get from WHOOP users is “What should my HRV be?” Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.
It’s important to realize that HRV can vary widely from one individual to the next. For example, the Team Thrive leader for the past month is Scott Holtzman, with an average daily HRV of 162. However, Holtzman is a professional UFC fighter (check out his Team Thrive Spotlight feature) who regularly works out three times per day. It’s not reasonable for most of us to try to compare ourselves to Scott.
On the other hand, ultra runner Robert Edminster is also an elite athlete on Team Thrive. Edminster recently finished third overall in the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run, one of the most grueling ultra races in the country. His average HRV last month was only 47, among the lower 40% of the team (members of Team Thrive can access this data in the WHOOP app, or go more in-depth via our web app at app.whoop.com).
Age has an enormous effect on HRV as well–it falls off dramatically the older we get. This past summer, WHOOP user Dave Hippensteel defended his title as the fittest 60-year-old on Earth. Hippensteel’s HRV is regularly in the low 40s.
Rather than worrying about what is “normal” or using other athletes’ heart rate variability as a barometer, it can be much more valuable to track your own trends in HRV.
Our Director of Software, Mark Flores, is a perfect example. Mark, who can be found on Team Thrive, is 32 years old. His average HRV over the last month is 33. “That’s gone down a bit since it got cold outside and I started working out a little less,” he said.
Below is a three-month chart of Mark’s HRV data from when he first began working at WHOOP (and wearing a Strap) earlier this year:
You can see regular fluctuation in Mark’s HRV day by day, but also a clear trend upwards over time.
“Being a part of WHOOP and seeing how athletes use it has been tremendously inspiring for me,” Mark explained. “Since I first learned about HRV, I’ve been trying hard to increase it. My workouts used to be primarily weightlifting and yoga, but now I do cardio as well, which I hated until I saw the value of it in my data. I work out every day unless I’m sore or my Recovery is in the red, it usually ends up being about five or six days a week.”
Mark’s HRV went up and his overall fitness improved. “The cardio has helped my lifting and yoga too!” Mark added.
We’d like to think members of Team Thrive may be having a similar experience.
If you’re on WHOOP and would like to be part of Team Thrive, click here for an invitation. We want to hear from current team members too! Email TheLocker@whoop.com with your Thrive stories (good and bad!) and make sure to check out @whoop on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates.