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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

ithlete Heart Rate Variability App Review

For the past two months I have been using the ithlete heart rate variability (HRV) monitoring device and mobile app thanks to a unit provided by the kind folks at ithlete (see www.myithlete.com).  You can see other HRV articles in our Heart Rate Variability section.

To recap, HRV is one evidence-based method of assessing the autonomic nervous system.   HRV offers a snapshot of an athlete’s readiness to train on a given day.  Many are familiar with heart rate, but HRV is less well known, despite its deep foundation in the cardiac literature.  Until recently, one barrier to more widespread use has been the challenge in capturing the data.  Whereas heart rate monitors have been standard fare for many athletes for decades, early iterations of HRV capture were confined to kinesiology labs and doctors’ offices.

All that has changed thanks to the work of companies like ithlete who have made it easy to capture daily HRV readings on your mobile device.  I’ve also been fortunate to speak personally with ithlete founder Simon Wegerif about the product itself and future offerings coming from ithlete

What I like about the ithlete HRV...   

*Ease of communication.  Ithlete has done a fine job exploiting mobile technology to ease communication between coach and athlete.  One option offered by the ithlete app is to export readings via email in a excel file.  You can also exchange a screen capture photo via text or email, which is nice for those more visually inclined.  Coaches and athletes need not remain bolted to a computer to exchange this data, as ithlete is compatible with both iphone and Android.

*ithlete offers color coded recommendations: Green indicates train as normal, Amber suggests an easy day, and Red recommends a complete day off.  These colors are only suggestions, but the program helps remove subjective bias from training decisions, and most importantly, helps put the brakes on athletes who are ineffective at modulating work and recovery (and note, more recovery is NOT always better…training and recovery are constant ebbs and flows).    

*Taking an HRV reading with the ithlete involves less than a one minute investment (after ensuring the chest strap is sufficiently moist).  With most athletes surgically attached to their smartphones these days, a one minute investment to capture the day’s HRV first thing in the morning is minimal!

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*The screen view is intuitive and easy to understand.  One line tracks your rolling average, whereas another line tracks each days reading.  Color codes depict the exact recommendation for that particular day, which is displayed for the present reading most prominently on the screen and historically within the line graph.

*Portability is an asset: no one travels without cell phone these days.  The ithelte unit is the size of a quarter and can even fit into your wallet for air travel.  The biggest piece of equipment associated with the program is the chest strap.  Note that most common chest strap models from heart rate monitors are compatible with the unit, meaning that you don’t need to purchase additional equipment if you already own a heart rate monitory chest strap.

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*One of the greatest benefits of HRV has been quantifying time lags in how athletes respond to hard works and different recovery rates.  For example, despite the common practice to alternate hard/easy days in succession, some athletes need more than easy day for each hard day.  When you consistently see a HRV dip two days after a hard workout, you can clearly see why some athlete need two (or three) easy days between hard days. 

*However, the most significant learning experience from using the ithlete HRV app is appreciating the how non-training factors affect training readiness (nutrition, social life, psychological stress, etc).  The ithlete is a valuable tool to not only help guide training decisions; it is also educational for those who don’t recognize how choices we make away from our sport can undermine even the finest training program. 

In sum....I highly recommend the ithlete for all athletes and coaches seeking to incorporate HRV into their training.  No matter how one uses HRV, the ithlete HRV is guaranteed to improve your understanding of your own training responses and those of your athletes, and ultimately achieve a greater return on investment for to improve performance.   

Comments

Pulse oximeter is a must have equipment

Now-a-days, the cardiovascular disorders can be easily checked with the help of pulse oximeter as it helps in monitoring the pulse rate as well as the oxygen saturated blood.

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