Key Training Sessions with HRV

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is an important metric on many of today’s top watches. While athletes now have access to this number, it is often fun at first, but overlooked as time goes on. One topic that we want to touch on today is monitoring your HRV leading up to a key training session.

Key training sessions prepare athletes for their specific goals. As individuals or coaches create training plans, many of the workouts will be for developing an athletes base. The other “key” workouts are geared towards optimal peak performance. When athletes get to these training sessions, they want to be ready both physically and mentally. HRV is a tool that can help maximize your key training sessions, and lead you to better results in your next event.

How to Utilize HRV

What you need to do first is establish your baseline HRV.  To best do so, measure your HRV for a week. Do this in the morning before doing anything else. Some companies will give you the raw number. At COROS we provide you with an HRV index. The HRV Index will let you know your HRV in relation to your normal baseline readings. 

Screen_Shot_2021-09-30_at_11.30.34_AM.pngOnce you have your base HRV established, simply continue to monitor it daily. When it dips below a certain threshold (lower than 20 on COROS Index, or a raw number you determine to be low from another product), understand that you need to rest.  Let’s take a look at some practical examples that happen. 

Real World Scenarios

Each morning, athletes wake up and need to make the decision to complete their training or not. Ideally, they are ready to complete each workout everyday. However, in the real world that is not how things happen. Students may have a test, parents may have a sick child, individuals may have big work presentations, etc. Things happen in life that add stress to our body.  What HRV can do is give you the insight if you’re ready to attack your key workouts. 

Lets say an athlete has a key track session that day.  They wake up and see a 24 HRV index. This is low in the COROS index and the athlete knows they bounce back quickly from lower HRV scores. Instead of going out for their track session that day, it would make more sense to run an easy base run, and push the key session back a day. This now allows the athlete to maintain their base endurance, but also maximize their session the next day.  Another example would be an athlete with a high HRV.  This athlete wakes up with an HRV index of 82. They have a base cycling ride today, but a key session in two days. Due to the flexibility of their plan, they decide to do the key workout today. This athlete will get more out of the key workout than they may have otherwise.

Flexible Training Plan

The obvious question to moving around workouts is, “what do I do with the rest of my week?”. This is where education of Training Load and Fatigue comes in. If you’re in a build portion of your season, you’re looking for a 3-5% increase in Training Load per week. You also want to  ensure your fatigue rating never goes above 80 on the COROS app (excessive fatigue). By keeping track of these metrics along with your daily HRV index, you can create a more flexible plan that works to optimize your training. This is the future of training and what makes sports technology great!


Each athlete will have key workouts throughout their training season. The goal of these sessions is to maximize your adaptation and help you prepare for your specific goals. When starting these workouts, you want to be in the best mental and physical place possible. HRV will help show you when you’re ready and when you’re not. By having a flexible training schedule and maximizing your metrics, you are optimizing your training and increasing your overall odds of success. Start tracking your HRV and utilize this metric to explore perfection!

Derek Dalzell
Derek Dalzell

Derek is a member of our Sports Science team, focused on sports performance. He has worked with beginner to elite athletes in the sports of Cycling, Triathlon, Running, and more. Having coached over 20 national champions in multiple disciplines, he has a passion for helping athletes understand the “why” behind the training.

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