5 Methods To Determine How Fast You Are Recovering From Your Workout

Analyze Your Workout Recovery

There are many different ways to determine how well you are recovering from your training and workouts. Some methods can be very invasive, costly, and not practical for the average athlete. Other methods can be as simple as pay attention to your body and answering a few question before and after your workout.

Subjective Well-Being

Use a simple questionnaire to determine how you are feeling, your mood, feeling of fatigue, muscle soreness, and energy level. When you are over-trained or not fully recovered it may be felt psychologically not just physiologically. As you become more experienced as an athlete your ability to determine if you are truly recovered should become more intuitive.

Using subjective well-being is a simple and inexpensive way to determine if you are recovered and ready for your next workout. It can prone to errors because it is a subjective measure and many type A individual actually tend to underestimate their level of fatigue and overestimate the their amount and level of recovery.

Orthostatic Heart Rate Test

Based on changes in heart rate reactivity to your postural state (lying/standing) that are linked to your recovery state. This test requires only a stop watch and a partner to take and record your heart rate. You can also use a heart rate monitor and some come already programmed with a setting to perform a Orthostatic Heart Rate Test.

How to perform a Orthostatic Heart Rate Test

  1. Start in a lying position for 3-5 minutes and record heart rate.

  2. Stand up for 15 seconds

  3. After standing 15 seconds record heart rate a second time 3-5 minutes.

  4. Record the difference between the standing a lying heart rates.

The main measure of this test is to determine whether or not the heart rate is able to remain low after the athlete stands. A difference of 15-20 beats may indicate that an athlete is not fully recovered. The lower the difference between the two heart rates should indicate a better level of recovery.

This test is easy to perform at home, requires minimal equipment, and is relatively quick to before. The individual’s stress from external factors and anxiety around taking the test can effect the testing results. Individuals who are highly stressed or highly fatigued may report a false low rate resulting in an error.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

Your heart does not beat at a constant frequency. Just because your heart rate is 60 beats per minute does not mean your heart is beating one time per second. You can read in depth about HRV and the science behind it but simply heart rate variability is able to measure the variability between heart beats and the time between when the heart receives a signal to beat and when it actually beats. With these markers technology is able to give a pretty accurate idea of how well you are recovering.

Heart rate variability requires a heart rate monitor and usually an app or device capable of determining HRV. It is a fantastic tool that can be used daily to determine your recovery rate, estimate V02 max, training loads, exercise intensity and more. Can be used prior to training, during training, or after training. Based of the type of gear you are using some will give a simple color indicator that represents your recovery status. Other will give a specific score and much more in depth analysis or your recovery status.

Based on the type of technology you are using the margin of error and accuracy can vary. Older HRV devices may produce results that can be hard to interpret without some learning curve involved but most modern high quality devices are very user friendly such as Wahoo TICKR or Polar.

Lactate Measurements

Tests levels of lactate. Lactate is the byproduct of anaerobic exercise. The ability to produce lactate under certain levels of fatigue may indicate your recovery status. Testing is somewhat easy to measure and not expensive but testing needs to be performed in a controlled environment. Lactate measurements are used primarily to test short term recovery rates. It may be difficult to determine status of longe term recovery.

Hormonal and Biochemical Measurements

One of the bests methods to indicate your recovery status over a longer term. Hormonal and biochemical markers can indicate poor recovery, and over-training status. Testing can specifically determine the mechanism causing issues in your recovery status. Measuring hormonal and biochemical markers can be very beneficial to get an overall picture of your training and recovery status but this method of testing can be very invasive, expensive, and not plausible for daily use. It is a great measure to use a few times a year or when noticing and very significant changes in your ability to recovery from training.