Between Thresholds Podcast

BETWEEN THRESHOLDS - Episode 6 | Measuring effective rest through pulse rate variability (HRV)


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We have been talking about training for many days and getting tired, so it's time to rest. We will give a short general overview of what we mean by rest, because it falls into very different areas. For example:

  • Rest or recovery between repetitions or sets (active or passive rest)
  • Rest between training sessions (through nutrition, horizontal rest or napping, compression)
  • Rest between training days (sleep, quality and quantity)
  • Rest between training blocks or periods
  • Rest between one season and the next

To poder assess how our rest has been, there are different things on which poder can be based. None is more important than the other, they are simply values to take into account and logically, the more values we have, the easier it will be to understand the situation we are in:

  • RPE Sensations
  • Experience
  • General recommendations according to work performed
  • Planning scheduling
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)



When we talk about sensations we refer to the general feeling of fatigue that we have when we complete a training session, or a block. It is interesting to note the sensations we have because it will allow us to see a complete training block in perspective.

Today you can remember the feelings from yesterday's workout, but can you remember the feelings from a workout two weeks ago? If you keep track of it in a diary or in your 1TP10 training app, you can go back to that data at any time, even months from now.


It is said that experience is a degree, and in this case it is totally true. The experience you may have throughout all your workouts is essential to identify and assess whether the feeling you have is normal fatigue from training, or if it is chronic fatigue. Beyond the different values, it is important to listen to your own body, it is the wisest.

General recommendations according to work performed


There are a series of tables that indicate the recommended period according to the duration and intensity of your exercise. Watches also provide this information, indicating a recommended rest period after finishing a workout.

But the time indicated does not mean that if the watch tells you to rest for 72 hours, you can not return to training for 3 days. You can do it, but keeping an eye on the intensity of it or cross training with other sports.

Planning scheduling

All planning includes periods of higher and lower load. These lower load periods are the ones we use to recover and assimilate the work done. Remember that a training plan is not written in stone and it is not only that you can, but you must make modifications based on your feelings.

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Pulse rate variability (HRV)

Finally we have pulse variability, which is what I will detail in more detail below.

The variability of the pulse is the space of time between the different heartbeats. Because although it may seem that the time between one heartbeat and another is the same, there are always slight variations.

HRV is different from pulse rate. Heart rate is the average number of beats per minute (a heart rate of 60 would be 60 beats in a minute, i.e. one per second), and it increases or decreases depending on our activity.

Variability, on the other hand, is the time that passes between one heartbeat and another, as you can see in this chart from Firstbeat.

HRV Pulse variability

A low resting heart rate is a sign of good rest and that our body is ready for a new workout. If your HR rises with respect to the usual trend then there is something wrong (fatigue, illness, bad rest). That is why it is important to have a constant measurement and poder see graphs with the evolution of the resting HR over time.

For the pulse rate variability or HRV it is the other way around. A high HRV means good adaptability and health, while a low HRV would be the opposite.

One thing you should not forget is that the data is not comparable between individuals. Your heart rate and pulse variability is uniquely yours. What is important is not the data itself, but the trend of your data.

Applications for HRV logging



Android       iOS

Elite HRV

Android       iOS

HRV Elite

The longer the measurement the better the data. For good data quality, we should perform a measurement for at least 2 minutes, 5 minutes being ideal.

This measurement must always be performed in a controlled environment, and always under the same conditions. For the sake of repeating the same conditions, it is recommended to perform the test when waking up or during sleep. It is no use if you perform the test today before getting out of bed, tomorrow while having breakfast and the day after at nap time. These data will not be comparable.

Measurement of pulse variability in watches

Watch manufacturers are placing increasing importance on sleep data. However, not all are at the same level.

At the moment it is Polar that offers the most complete data in this field with the Nightly Recharge function, which pod we can find in the Vantage, Ignite and Grit X.

During rest, Suunto and Garmin only record sleep hours in greater or lesser detail. But both have a Firstbeat's specific function. In Garmin it is called Body Battery and in Suunto Body Resources.

This function is based on pulse variability and aims to provide the information in a very simple way, as if you were a battery. In periods of rest and sleep you recharge the battery, while in training and in everyday life you will use it up.

This function reaches a similar destination to that of Polar, but it is much simpler and sparser in data. Personally I prefer the proposal of Polar watches (which I think is great when it comes to assess and record the rest), but it is true that although everything is summarized in a single figure, additionally there are many other data that podemos display and that may overwhelm you.


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Thank you!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Hi, Eduardo,

    What is the garmin application to count the cars with the radar?

    A very very good postcad
    To continue this way

  2. Good...
    Very interesting the topic of Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
    I honestly wasn't aware of this and I think it's a good thing to implement.
    As for me, I go out to train as soon as I get off work, at 5 pm.
    I usually wear the Garmin HR monitor on my chest and do the VFC Stress test to see how I am doing before I go out. I do it just to see the number but had no idea where that data came from.
    I have a doubt, because you say to do it as soon as you wake up and the manual of my 935 says: "TIP: Garmin recommends to measure your stress score before exercising, at approximately the same time and in the same conditions every day".
    I was looking at the apps you recommended to see if I could use them but Elite HRV requires an external sensor and HRV4training is paid....
    Is this VFC test that I do before going out to train useful to see the state of stress?
    Thank you very much.

    1. They are two different things. The Garmin stress, although based on HRV, is not exactly the same but is an algorithm that takes into account several things (including variability).

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