Recovery Activities

See Part 1.

My exercise goals for the last couple months have been:

  • Prioritize recovery and stress reduction over building strength
  • Continue improving resilience (i.e., recover faster)
  • Learn what each workout zone and especially recovery feel like
  • If energy is good (judge by feel and HRV numbers), THEN alternate “long slow” and “strength/cardio” workouts. NO set frequency or schedule, to avoid overdoing it/guilt.
  • Work on posture and breathing to increase available energy

I take an HRV reading every morning and compare that with how I feel. I use a Polar 10 chest strap gadget and the Welltory, Elite HRV, and HRV4Training apps simultaneously (I know, I know…I’m comparing them…gimme a break) to determine my morning HRV.  If most signs point toward needing to take it easy, I rest or do a recovery activity in zone 1 (or low zone 2 since it’s often hard to stay in zone 1). If both are good, then I do exercise in zones 2-3. If I feel great, I aim for zones 3-4, but no more than 2x/week at this point.

I wear the Polar chest strap during my workouts (and sometimes just during regular activities, like canning or giving a presentation at work). Its app shows my heart rate AND the zone I’m in from moment to moment, then tallies up my time in each zone per workout and day/week/month. Here are some sample activities:

Zone

Function

HR range

Activities Aug. ’18

0

Total rest –

Feels stretchy

<88bpm

·        Sitting, sleeping

·        Seated yoga

1

Active Recovery –

Easy motion; often hard to stay this low

88-104

·        Gentle sun salutations; seated active yoga

·        Tai chi warm-up

·        Walk to meeting

2

Light – base fitness – feels like “I’m actually doing
exercise”

105-122

·      Flowy tai chi

·     1 flight stairs

·     “Taking a walk”

·     Giving Reflex

·     Weeding

·     Slowest elliptical

3

Steady state – improve aerobic – feels like I’m working hard

123-139

·     Brisk walk

·     Moderate elliptical

·     2 flights stairs

4

Tempo – speed/stamina – breathing very hard

140-157

·    Mowing flat

·    Cardio workout

5

Max – increase max performance – starting to worry

158-176

·     Mowing slope

Danger

Galloping heart

177+


 

 

If you want to try this at home, there are tons of gadgets and apps out there. You absolutely need something that can measure heart rate variability – most FitBits and whatnot don’t do this, even if they can track your heart rate. Welltory and I think HRV4Training can actually measure HRV using your phone – so that can be a good way to get started. I use the Welltory phone measurement about 15% of the time. It sometimes chokes for no apparent reason, but when it works, it seems to be pretty accurate. I have also wanted something on my wrist that would show HR zones, so I can use my phone to play my workout and let me see my HR zone on my wrist. However, I haven’t found a wrist tracker I like (I have tiiiiiiny wrists) and after a couple months, I’m pretty good at knowing by HR zone by feel. So I just watch the workout video and check my HR zone once in a while, or after I’m done.

I’m also going to give Morpheus a try. It seems to be geared exactly for what I’m trying to do. Might be overkill – but there’s a 60 day trial, so why not? It varies your zones day-to-day based on your current recovery state, which sounds more precise than just saying “zone 1 is always 88-105bpm.” I have days when chopping kale in the kitchen puts me in Zone 2 and days when I can’t get into Zone 2 by speed walking, so it would be nice to have something that knows what “recovery” should look like today. I’ll let you know how it goes when I’ve had it for a couple weeks.

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