A recent meta-analysis based on several passed studies about the use of HRV in athletes demonstrated that one of the key points is to perform a continuous follow-up, made of regular measures taken on a weekly basis, without such a protocol data collection is irrelevant.

Continuous follow-up of HRV allows a fine and objective analysis of the profile of each athlete, which in turn allows to anticipate fatigue state and optimize each training session.

Training overload and performance

Training periodization usually includes preset periods of overload training designed to stimulate physiological adaptations and increase performances. Functional overreaching (FOR) consists of a transitory decrease in performance after the training session without alteration in physiological or psychological parameters. The increase in performance is expected to occur in the following days.

However, if the decrease in performance persists, the physiological and/or psychological variables are altered, and the athletes falls within the non-functional overreaching (NFOR) state. It is a fatigue state that has multiple forms and from which it is long and difficult to get out. Anyhow, this compromises physical training and performance in competition.

Personalized follow-up and anticipating fatigue

The goal of training plans is to use FOR without falling into NFOR or even overtraining. The capability to measure objectively the athlete’s physiological parameters in a simple and quick manner is key, it allows to detect early modifications and adapt the training plan to aim for FOR and not NFOR.

It is essential to perform a continuous follow-up of the athlete to anticipate HRV modifications. An isolated HRV value cannot give a reliable indication to the coach about what is best to do. The meta-analysis also shows that the relevant HRV variations were not detectable using isolated recordings but were detectable using recordings following weeks after weeks on a long-term perspective (2,3).

One fatigue but different profiles

The meta-analysis also reports that the HRV profiles are diverse and non-uniform. Therefore, it is not possible to order the athletes on a scale with more or less fatigue, but it is better to classify their fatigue profiles according to the variations of the measured physiological parameters. inCORPUS® algorithms are the only ones able to classify in height different profiles and to bring the remediations associated to each profile.

In addition, there is a very large inter-individual variability, each athlete has HRV values very different from the others and highly variable. The HRV profile must therefore be individualized to be relevant, which is another singularity of inCORPUS® algorithms. Our algorithms automatically personalize the follow-up of each athlete.

In facts, the HRV follow-up is like training, to achieve its goal you must be assiduous and thorough.

Références scientifiques

(1)          Manresa-Rocamora, A.; Flatt, A. A.; Casanova-Lizón, A.; Ballester-Ferrer, J. A.; Sarabia, J. M.; Vera-Garcia, F. J.; Moya-Ramón, M. Heart Rate-Based Indices to Detect Parasympathetic Hyperactivity in Functionally Overreached Athletes. A Meta-Analysis. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 2021, 31 (6), 1164–1182.

(2)          Le Meur, Y.; Pichon, A.; Schaal, K.; Schmitt, L.; Louis, J.; Gueneron, J.; Vidal, P. P.; Hausswirth, C. Evidence of Parasympathetic Hyperactivity in Functionally Overreached Athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2013, 45 (11), 2061–2071.

(3)          Bourdillon, N.; Yazdani, S.; Nilchian, M.; Mariano, A.; Vesin, J.-M.; Millet, G. P. Overload Blunts Baroreflex Only in Overreached Athletes. J. Sci. Med. Sport 2018, 21 (9), 941–949.

article author image
Nicolas Bourdillon
Chief Research Officer – PhD in Physiology