When dealing with high level athletes, you need to make sure they get the right amount of training stimulus. Too little will end up not producing any significant training effect, and too much will overtrain your athletes.
When you’re dealing with high school athletes or athletes with very little lifting experience, you can get away with pretty much anything and overtraining them is virtually impossible.
It’s a whole different story for college, junior and pro athletes who have a significant training background. This is where periodization, volume and load management, and recovery strategies come into play. When planning a training year, an off-season or an in-season plan, it’s always very difficult to know exactly how much volume your athletes need.
The truth is that there is simply too many variables that come into play:
- training experience
- individual recovery capacity
- stress (physical and psychological)
Writing down a periodization, planning for deload weeks and trying to stay on top of how athletes feel have been the best ways to make sure the training stimulus we’re giving them is in that fine zone between undertraining and overtraining.
I blogged about heart rate variability (HRV)a couple months ago. I believe that the use of HRV and the devices available to track that will drastically change our industry in the next few years.
For the last decades, the only tool available to measure HRV was the OmegaWave, which is a 35,000$ machine, which basically means that it wasn’t accessible to most people.
But in the last couple of years, we’ve seen some smaller, more affordable devices make their appearance on the market. If you’re interested in using HRV with your athletes (which you should) to manage training stress I would strongly encourage you to consider of those devices. Here’s an overview of some of the devices used to measure HRV:
Like I just mentioned earlier, this is the original heart rate variability system. I had the chance to try it once and it gives you tremendous information about your recovery, your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, your anaerobic threshold and a lot more. The only problem? Well, the cost! So unless you’re in a pro sports organization, I doubt that you can justify (or even afford) such an expense.
This is Joel Jamieson’s product that he created after over 10 years of training MMA athletes and making experiments with the OmegaWave system. All you need is a Polar heart rate monitor and an I-Phone or an Android because it comes in the form of an app on these 2 smart phones. I’ve tried it a couple times and it’s very simple and easy to use. The price is extremely cheap compared to the OmegaWave; you can get it for $200.
Polar Heart Rate Monitor RS800CX
Polar makes a bunch of different heart rate monitors with different functions. The RS800CX offers a HRV measuring system with the watch. Although I have never tried it myself I heard that’s it’s not the most user friendly HRV system. It’s still pretty affordable compared to the OmegaWave; you can get it for just a little over $400.
Similar to the Bioforce HRV, it’s an app you can get on your smart phone. Although I’ve never used this one either I have heard mixed feedback on it. I’ve heard that’s it’s not the most accurate, but the price is extremely cheap. You can get it for a little over 50$.
This is really just the beginning as I think HRV monitoring devices are literally the future of strength and conditioning for high level athletes. Most of the smaller, more affordable devices are still in an early developmental stage and they will only become better as time goes by, and we will use a lot more companies come out with their own HRV device.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years HRV monitors become a staple in any training program. The information it provides is invaluable and couldn’t be obtained any other way.
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