Case Study: On the Verge of Overtraining

When looking at the blue average HRV trend line, we see that this particular user went from an average score of around 96 at the end of June to 85 in the middle of August.

We’ll start with the dive in average HRV… what was going on?

This user wanted to have a leaner body composition and began a program around the beginning of July consisting of 1 hour of cardio (bike, rower, jacob’s ladder, versa climber, etc.). 

At first, the user saw a slight decline in average HRV but was not overly concerned; she assumed that the drop could be attributed to the new exercises and expected to see a compensatory shift toward the parasympathetic state (↑ in HRV) as her body recovered from the initial shock. 

From the middle-to-end to July, she saw her average HRV stabilize and hover around 93 before things began to take a turn for the worse…

Over the short period from the end of July to the middle of August, the user’s average HRV took a steep dive of around 9 points.

Why?

The user had adhered to her program of 1 hour of cardio per day, but she was complete the workouts at an intensity that her nervous system could not recover from.

The majority of each workout was spent with her heart rate well over 150 bpm. 

Right about now you may be asking why we see so many greens if she was training beyond her capacity to recover…

By monitoring this user’s HRV over time, she was able to observe that her body was not reacting positively to her program and change her workouts at the beginning of the overreaching stage of the training continuum, before things got out of control. 

Had she kept on with her moderate-to-high intensity cardio workouts, we would have expected to see closer groupings of amber and red readiness scores as she progressed into further overreaching and overtraining.  

So what changed?

It’s important to preface this section by noting that positive changes in HRV are obtained differently depending on the individual. 

Realizing that was exercising in a manner that was not sustainable, the user adapter her workout program to an intensity that she could maintain and diversified her training methods. 

However, the takeaway message here is not the specific training methods that boosted this user’s HRV…

By carefully monitoring HRV and adapting appropriately, personal goals can be attained while minimizing the risk of injury.