Changes in HRV with training intensity and the menstrual cycle: Insights from our big data study

As many of you will know, the application of heart rate variability (HRV) to endurance training is one of my major research interests (6–8), and something I consistently integrate into my coaching practice with elite and amateur triathletes. Daily measurements of HRV upon waking to tell us about our autonomic function; specifically, HRV measured as the square root of the mean squared difference between beat-to-beat intervals (rMSSD) is a measure of parasympathetic nervous system activity. The parasympathetic nervous system is the arm of the autonomic system that slows things like your heart rate down, and therefore suppressed parasympathetic activity, and so suppressed HRV measured as rMSSD, is indicative of a state of stress. This is what makes daily HRV measurements useful for informing the training process; trends in HRV can help us to determine when we might need to back off, and when we can be confident in putting the hammer down. Indeed, using HRV measurements to guide...

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