It’s been 4 years since I started monitoring athletes using HRV.  

Started with ithlete..

then Bioforce…

Now the Omegawave Team System. 

Of course along the way I have made mistakes, talked to some experts, made some more mistakes, and now have gained an understanding… with less mistakes. 

So here is the skinny version of 4 years of HRV:


1. HRV is really looking at this

“You mean it isn’t tracking my gainz?”

No bro…No. 

I will admit on paper this looks very simple. In reality it is a complex system, playing give or take, and varying in degree of activation.  

What you need to know… 

Keep the autonomic functions of the body autonomic.  Too much stress and the higher brain centers will override (Sympathetic System, Midbrain, RM Baevsky).  


2. All HRV systems are not created equal

Having used many of the HRV systems out there it really comes down to how each system Analyzes HRV ( Statistical, Nonlinear, Variational pulsometry – Geometric, Correlation Rhythmogram, Spectral, etc.) and how you as a coach/athlete use the information to make decisions. 

Seeing one value is nice but HRV (and our body) is a complex, self-organizing system.  To be useful on a daily basis we might need more information on our adaptability.   

What you need to know… 

Do your homework! Marketing can be misleading!  

*If you use a single value HRV monitoring system and have scores 80+ and are not an aerobic athlete (triathlete, runner, cyclist, etc) you are overtraining….(thank you CrossFit).  Also understand the effects of Chronobiology and HRV.   


3.  HRV and our Parasympathetic, blah, blah, blah

There’s a lot of talk out there on the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of our nervous system. You might even hear us rant about it, but there is nothing magical about it.  

Neuroscience 101 

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) takes care of all our autonomic functions and runs through our organs, blood vessels, and glands. It has two branches: Sympathetic (fight or flight) and Parasympathetic (rest and digest). Ultimately each are concerned with either conservation or mobilization of energy.  

If you want to be healthy you need to have parasympathetic dominance.  

Health = Parasympathetic

So don’t be surprised when you read research or marketing material on how parasympathetic or ANS correlates with immune system, decision making, vitamin deficiencies, depression, behavior, etc. 

What you need to know… 

Unhealthy to Healthy or Healthy to Unhealthy will always have shift in our ANS. 


4.   HRV can not polish a turd. 

Though HRV is a valuable monitoring tool you still need to be a good coach!

If you don’t have a system, or know how, or patience to make the right changes,   HRV will undoubtedly tell you what you are doing is crap.    

If you are not steeped in good training theory, HRV will tell you what you are doing is crap. 

If you are an athlete that has poor stress management skills, struggles with improving relationships, cannot control your micro and macro environments, poor nutrition and sleeping habits, HRV will tell you what you are doing is crap. 

If you are a therapist that looks at your clients as $$$$, can not establish trust, and have a terrible touch.  HRV will tell you what you are doing is crap. 

What you need to know…

HRV is a tool. 

Just because you monitor functional states using HRV does not make you a good coach/athlete!  Like any tool it is how you use it and is firmly rooted in the fundamentals.  

Simple to Complex.