I recently started wearing a Whoop strap and blogging about my experience. 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.
I started wearing my Whoop strap on July 1st and within the first 3 days learned that I was not recovering from my workouts. I certainly was feeling this in my body and I was not at all surprised that the data correlated with my feelings.
It takes 7 days of data collection before you can access the Whoop coaching features. Until then, you just wear it all the time. You still get very interesting data within the first week, you just don't get analysis and suggestions. Here's my first week's strain and recovery.
As you can see my most intense workout was Saturday July 4 when I hiked up to Cottonwood Lake in the Crazy mountains and my worst recovery score was the next day. The hike was 10.5 miles and since it was the Fourth of July I enjoyed a few post-hike beers back at camp:) I have since learned about how alcohol and dehydration affect your HRV which impacts your recovery.
Monday I drank lots and lots of water and no beer and my recovery was the highest for the week.
Whoop calculates recovery using heart rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate and sleep. Before I started wearing my Whoop strap I knew very little about HRV. Now, I'm managing my recovery to maximize my HRV. As you can see in the image above HRV varies based upon age, gender, health and aerobic fitness. Since the first two variables are fixed, I'm focusing on health and aerobic fitness.
According to Whoop there are about 5 health factors that can influence your HRV. They are hydration, nutrition, sleep, limiting alcohol and stress management. Since my sleep is solid and my nutrition is on point (thanks to working with Coach Audy) I am focusing on hydration, which Whoop confirms is the number 1 way to improve recovery and HRV.
Being properly hydrated has many benefits, all of which I have blogged about, and the benefit that has the most significant impact on HRV is that hydration helps circulate oxygen to your working muscles. My heart is my most important working muscle and HRV tells me how efficiently it's working. According to Whoop I need to drink more water (and less post-hike beers.)
How much water should we drink? For many years I have followed the 1/3 to 1/2 your body weight in ounces. Now that I weigh 170 again (thanks Coach Audy) I should drink 51-85 ounces of water (or other hydrating liquids). That's a big range and according to Whoop it's not enough. This inadequacy is expressed both by my low HRV and by the thousands of data gathered by Whoop users. They have calculated the optimal hydration strategy for athletes (that's what we CrossFitters are) to be 1 ounce of water for every pound of body weight. That means I need to drink 170 ounces of liquid every day! I have been barely getting half that amount!
In order to drink 170 ounces of water I need to down a little over 5 Nalgene bottles EVERY DAY! I better start drinking and staying close to a bathroom. I have not yet achieved 170 ounces in a day. I am making this a top priority and am looking forward to seeing HRV improve.
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. Stay tuned for my next Whoop! Wednesday post as I explore the strain score and how it relates to CrossFit workouts.
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