Article comments: How To Use Heart Rate Variability As Your Training Guide

Hi Scott nice to see you presenting your info in the Pez Tool Box. One small item of question then the big question. In the article you have the words “our autonomous nervous system” it has been a while since I studied biology and physiology but isn’t it the autonomic nervous system?

Now for the real question that has been bouncing around my head lately and came to a point last evening. The HRV is fine in that it takes into account the stresses etc up until the time you take your HRV. However not everyone does their workout right after they take their HRV and it is not advised to take it during the day from mu limited knowledge and having tried to use HRV to get meaningful data. I find if during my work day if it is psychologically stressful that when I get home to do my evening workout the workout is just harder. Firstly motivation is lower, then I am certain that my nervous system is tired and non responsive. So when I do a workout that would typically cause a breakthrough it may get a near breakthrough but I just don’t seem to be able to push through that last little bit needed for the breakthrough to happen. If it has been a fairly relaxed day nothing unusual I am more motivated and I believe my nervous system is less tired/ more relaxed and this more responsive.

My issue with HRV is that when I get up in the morning I may be tip top ready to go but the next morning (after the terrible day and hard workout) I am now in the fatigue situation and HRV may show that effect but a bit too late for it to be effective when I needed it the evening before

I have not seen much research into this area but would be very interested in getting some feedback on what is out there in the area a decent research into this area and issue and if others as well notice similar things.

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+1 for any guidance on this issue, I am a postman (mailman to those in the US) I take my HRV in a morning about 6am, by the time I finish work and get on the bike it is usually 16.30 and I have an average of 11-13 miles of walking in the legs. I gave up on HRV as a result of this and just used how my body felt to make a judgement, however after reading Scott’s article I’m giving it another go and have just started using the Elite HRV app. One other question I have, is what is the best position to take the reading in? Scott referenced standing in the PEZ article but in the app it seems to suggest lying or sitting. I’m guessing as long as you do the same each time it should be okay. Great article by the way and nice to mention how you use HRV with Xert.

You’re exactly right. Word didn’t identify this as a typo (it’s still technically a word, but not the one I wanted). Apparently myself and my editor both read it as intended “autonomic” instead of what I actually typed. Great catch!

I’m one of the lucky folks who rides right after waking up. That luxury isn’t available to all athletes for many reasons. However, the best way to get reliable HRV data is to take the measure in the same position at approximately the same time of day (to minimize influence of circadian rhythm), so it’s still a good idea to take it in the morning, if it’s something that you’re going to monitor. With Elite HRV app, you have the option to take a ‘Morning Readiness’ reading, but can also take a ‘Snapshot’ reading, meant to be an additional reading you can take prior to your workout. I’m not sure if HRV4 also does something similar, as I’m not as familiar with their app.


I use Elite HRV too. I think one of the main points is to be consistent with how you use it and the fact that “normal life” will affect your HRV. Hence why Elite HRV suggest 1st thing each day before you’ve had any “life stressors”, caffeine, etc - all of which would be variable each day and mean that you you are not getting a consistent base-line/benchmark.

I’d view your “Morning HRV” as a snapshot as to how well you are at the start of your day - i.e. yesterday’s training, sleeping overnight, etc If that is low then it means you will have to really focus on relaxation etc .

Note on Elite HRV you can take ‘Open HRV Reading’ or a ‘HRV Snapshot’ reading at another point in the day - I think these readings get saved in your history but don’t feed into the calculation of your ‘Morning HRV’ score. There is no reason why you could not take 1x ‘Morning HRV Reading’ 1st thing as your baseline and then 1x ‘Open/Snapshot’ reading before your workout as you may already have a heart rate monitor on. This could be too much Admin for people hence not practicable.

I currently workout 1st thing so just do the 1x Morning HRV Reading each day.

Looks like @ManofSteele was typing at the same time!


One of the interesting things with HRV (and one of the challenges that go with it) is that you really need to be as consistent as possible when monitoring it. Meaning same position (seated v standing is irrelevant as long as it’s consistent), same time of day (to minimize effects of circadian rhythm), and taken every day. The actual numbers from each day are relatively meaningless, it’s more so watching for trends in the data - relative to yesterday/day before and relative to your baseline. In the article I referenced, they referred to being inside/outside the Smallest Worthwhile Change (SWC), but haven’t fully read into the deepest nitty-gritty to figure out how they calculated SWC.

Thank you so much! I’m happy to have an opportunity to share some of the cycling literature with those who are interested in the science behind training. My goal as being a contributing author for Pez is to help disseminate the research literature to a wider audience, as well as give the readers reasonable actions that they can take based on those research studies (with special emphasis on those of you who use Xert, of course :wink: )! Hope you’ve enjoyed this one - and those yet to come!


I am still asking for feedback on thoughts around daily stressors and how that impacts workout performance. I know myself well enough to know what the outcome is likely to be. I also know enough to just give it a go because sometimes things turn out better than expected. last Xert ride was after a crazy day at work with plenty of stressors, then when I tried to get Xert up and running the new system wanted to mess me around so I went to older system because it was not playing nice with my power meter or trainer so more time wasted and stress so it meant though the time I had on the trainer was close to my goal it was not as effective as hoped. I do get feedback from these efforts though. A near breakthrough under the circumstances means a couple of things, I was cooked, and my signature is not far off where it should be for the situation.

Scott maybe I missed it in the article but what are you using to capture your heart rate? I assume a chest strap? or some other method.

Interesting that you feel that way. I’ve also had a general feeling of “I could have guessed that” after taking most of my morning readiness HRV readings. Only once or twice has the value ‘surprised’ me, but I did take action and either selected an easier workout (if solo) or dialed down the intensity of my session workout (in a group).

I’m certainly not the expert on HRV, but I simply wanted to start tracking it and see if/how it correlates with my training status in Xert as I read & learn more about it. I found a research article that comparing using a training schema, paired with HRV, to guide athletes through a dynamic training plan to a standard training plan. Interestingly they found that guiding your training on some biological feedback was superior to blindly following a training plan (no big shocker there), and I think that generally correlates well with how the XATA recommends works dynamically based on what you have been doing, rather than blindly following a pre-set plan. Perhaps it’s possible to further optimize the adaptive training advisor by not only looking at your power data, but a whole set of biological data - HRV, Sleep quality/quantity, etc. The options are limitless (and working days aren’t long enough…).

In my time in grad school, I often found that many of my best/BT rides were after a crummy day of work/school and I used riding as a way to blow off some steam, so I can sympathize with you there. However, I wasn’t recording my HRV at the time, so unfortunately can’t comment on whether my sense of the day was actually physiologically affecting RHR or HRV.

From what I’ve come to understand, a chest strap appears to be the preferred approach, where Polar HRM’s (most recently, the H10) tend to be the ‘gold standard’

I think there may be n option to use something like the freshnesss slider to help with that idea in the short term. Ie if you feel run down or are not at your best or you have data like HRV that says take it easy, maybe in the workout advisor that could be added and then it changes the selection to less intensity? or difficulty? I do my daily choice on how I feel not on a regimented plan already and I consider the options presented by the advisor but rarely go directly on that. I might see what it says and tweak the workout to fit what I am feeling on the day.

One reason I jumped ship from trainer road was hitting workouts that were unmanageable, I just could not finish them. That made no sense to me the adaptive aspect, the fitness signature(I was never a fan of FTP only) and the smart intervals are why I moved to Xert.

2 Likes and I apologize for all the marketing that shows up. I’m in no way connected with the company. I’ve used Morpheus for over a year and half. It does a very good job of reflecting my felt experience on the AM after previous day of effort. I have the M5.
I also use it concurrently with Body Battery in my Fenix 6X Pro upon awakening. Another app that a buddy of mine uses is hope this helps :slight_smile: