I started wearing a Whoop strap in 2020 and have blogged several times about my experience.
WHOOP and CrossFit have a multiyear partnership naming WHOOP the Official Wearable of CrossFit. The partnership will help athletes at all levels of the sport benefit from WHOOP data around training, sleep, and recovery. I am super excited about this partnership. â
The Whoop strap is a wearable performance monitor that measures your strain (workout intensity), recovery and sleep. Since my Sleep Number bed monitors my sleep, I am most interested in Whoop's ability to measure my recovery and strain.
Last week I explored how Whoop measures your HRV and calculates your recovery. Today I'm exploring how Whoop calculates your strain, or training intensity.
âIntensity is central to CrossFit. It's in our definition: Constantly varied high intensity functional movement. Therefore I thought that my strain would be very high on my CrossFit training days (which are usually Mon/Tue/Wed & Fri with an occasional Saturday. Thursdays and Sunday are my dedicated rest days.)
It takes 3 days of continual wear to unlock the Strain Coach feature. These first 3 days are when Whoop calculates your baseline biometric data and calibrates to your heart and respiratory rates.
On the 4th day of wear you can begin to tell Whoop when you're working out. While Whoop will automatically track your heart rate info when you workout, you can tap into the Strain Coach feature through the app to get more personalized analytics.
My Strain Coach for this day told me based on my recovery I could build to 12.0 strain. Strain is measured from 0 - 21.
My first week of using the Strain Coach I didn't even come close to the recommended strain. I WAS SO SURPRISED! I workout hard and at the end of each session my strain coach asked my for my perceived rate of exertion and it was always in the teens, but my strain value was nowhere near double digits.
The next week I scaled everything so that I could go faster and harder on all of my workouts. I thought for sure my strain would raise. It did, but it wasn't significant.
WHOOP measures strain based on cardiovascular output and time spent in various heart rate zones. The longer you're above 70% of your max heart rate the higher your strain score. Whoop does best when workouts are 15 mins or longer. So for our classic short and intense workouts your strain may not get very high. That doesn't mean you're not working hard and gaining fitness. It just won't be reflected in the strain score, but it will be reflected in your recovery score. More on that later.
âWhat about lifting days like Monday? Here's how Whoop handles those training sessions:
If youâre doing a strength-based workout with minimal reps and periods of rest (such as Olympic weightlifting), you will have a lower strain if your heart rate is not elevated for extended periods of time. Many WHOOP members have wondered how their data will reflect a strenuous strength session, so hereâs the breakdown:
Since all of our CrossFit workouts, both long and short, and our heavy days place some level of strain on our cardiovascular and neuroendocrine system our bodies must recover from the work. That is where Whoop really shines.
No matter your strain value for a specific workout, your recovery metrics are based on your personal biology (HRV, resting heart rate and respiratory rate) and those will absolutely be affected by the intensity of your workouts and the types of recovery practices you implement (hydration, nutrition, stress management, sleep, etc.).
I have used my recovery values and the Strain Coach feature to guide the intensity of my training sessions. If my recovery value is low, then I will adjust the volume or load of my workout. If my recovery value is high then I know I can set my hair on fire and red line a workout.
As your Coach, I can use your Whoop data to help you customize the WOD so that you can get the optimal training intensity based on YOUR PERSONAL data. If you're in the green, we can nail it. If you're in the red, we will scale it. I want to help you use your Whoop to make the best choices for your training.
If you are interested in joining me on a Whoop journey, use my link to get your first month free. If you're already a Whoop user, join our True Spirit Whoop Group with the team code: COMM-AD6416. â
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