Thoughts on Whoop Band?

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  • #37251
    shawnryan
    Participant

    Hey gang, I saw UA’s overall dismal review of HRV apps a little while back, then ithlete’s rebuttal, and UA’s re-rebuttal. Seems there are some definite flaws in HRV on its own as a measure of recovery. I’m curious if anyone else has tried out the newish (to the consumer market) Whoop Band. It seems to address some of the concerns that the reviewers found with other app-based products. In particular:

    1) They control both the hardware and the software under one umbrella. So presumably a better product with more predictable results.

    2) They use a really high end sensor from what I understand, that is specifically designed to measure HRV.

    3) They collect data all day every day, and utilize several data points in conjunction with various questions asked on a daily basis to get what I have to assume is a more holistic understanding of your recovery vs “training strain” as they call it.

    4) They sell a bicep band, which sounds as though it is a more accurate place in general than your wrist to measeure HR and HRV. For me as a climber who hates having anything on my wrists interfering with gloves, or my hand heading in to a chalk bag or crack, etc this was huge, as it means I’ll actually keep it on all day every day as they suggest.

    5) It seems they really do work to get a holistic understanding of your overall fitness and strain/ recovery profile, and then use that to make suggestions. I appreciated that the app didn’t even start making recommendations for a full 4 days of continuous wear, in order to get enough baseline info to work with.

    6) Because the strap stays on all day every day, including at night, they take your HRV when the strap detects that you’re in REM sleep. The ithlete owner seemed to have some issues with this strategy, but I guess Whoop has found a way to manage this, or is willing to accept the trade-offs in return for better baseline data?

    Overall I gotta say I have been impressed with Whoop’s recommendations so far. I was pretty skeptical, but the more I wear it, the more I like this thing. The analysis has felt quite accurate, and Whoop rarely if ever produces any truly false positives that I’ve seen so far. I have been been wearing it 24/7 for about a month now, and more than any other wearable fitness device, I have seen it positively impact my training. Having the data that my recovery is at 75% today, for instance, gave me a bit of an extra boost to get out that long tempo run that I might have been tempted to cut short if I was less certain of my recovery status.

    Curious if anyone else has had experiences with it, and has thoughts?

    Thanks!

  • Participant
    gtom on #37292

    I’ve been tracking HRV for about 2 years. HRV value should not be seen as the body answer to just your previous training session. There are 60 – 120 minutes of training and plenty of stressors and inputs over the remaining 22 hours.

    Lower HRV doesn’t necessary means your body has not recovered yet from the previous training. There might be other factors causing your lowered HRV. Training on a day with lower HRV doesn’t mean you get unproductive or over trained. Better look at trends, if it stays below average for couple days then you know something is off and some change in regime is needed.

    Most of the HRV apps rely on single measurement and that’s also how most of the studies focusing on HRV have been done. There is no benefit measuring HRV during an activity or 24/7. You want to measure it at rest. When I measured my HRV in the morning laying in the bed, the results were almost always green (low resting HR and parasympathetic saturation). Doing the same measurement in standing position gave me more precise results. That’s why I would be skeptical to over night HRV measurements in products like Whoop or Oura Ring.

    I switched to FR945 last fall. Watches have some FirstBeat feature called Body battery. I didn’t pay much attention to it but it tries to quantify how much rest you get over night or whilst resting. I had found low values corresponded with nights when I was sick.

    I personally think if one pays attention to health (don’t train when sick or tired) and follows well structured training plan those recovery tools and measurements are not necessary. Those apps can be good to predict incoming illness or give you a warning of too stressful time overall. In the end it’s the training plan and execution of work and recovery that makes you faster not the chasing of higher HRV or other metrics.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #37300

    The thing that Whoop does best is marketing:

    Should Whoop change its name to Whoops?

    The one device I’ve used that made recommendations pretty similar to a conservative orthostatic test was Omegawave, primarily because HRV is only one of several factors they analyze.

    Participant
    dansweet on #37509

    I’ve had a Whoop strap for 2.5 years – since before they switched to a monthly service business model.

    Things I like:
    – It forces you to pay much more attention to your sleep. I’ve made changes to improve my sleep and my sleep is now much more efficient (lower RHR, higher % time actually asleep, more “deep sleep” (supposedly good)). I’m now getting more sleep and making much better choices related to sleep – having minute by minute HR data for a couple years of your life makes it harder to ignore that you aren’t getting enough sleep or that you aren’t sleeping well.
    – It makes the impact of alcohol much more clear. I know from a couple years of experience that any night I have 2+ drinks I’ll significantly compromise the quality of my sleep (RHR 15-20% higher for the bulk of the time I am asleep) and next day performance.
    – The overall concept of Recovery seems to be pretty accurate in my experience. I haven’t experienced much of anything that felt like a false positive (where it says train, I do and it turns out to have been a bad idea). I have felt terrible and it has said I’m actually recovered so I train anyways despite not feeling like it and I end up performing well. More than once I have ignored it and trained when it said I was doing terrible and should rest – both times I promptly got sick for 1 week +.

    Things I don’t like:
    – The definition of Strain seems very HR/cardio-focused. It basically doesn’t “count” lifting sessions as having done any work. So I can push myself with weights 3x/wk and it will tell me I’m undertraining.

    Net, it sounds like from the above post it may not be great for tracking HR-specific training. However, I think the value of having “always-on” HR data is pretty high and a pretty unique thing the Whoop offers. You charge it while wearing it so effectively never have to remove it.

    Participant
    shawnryan on #38271

    I’m not sure what to make of Scott or gtom’s responses. Scott apparently you’re not a fan of the fact that they’re good at marketing? I agree their marketing warrants an eye-roll for the outdoor crowd, but not sure how that disqualifies them as something worth at least talking about.

    And gtom, it seems your overall statement is that HRV should be evaluated as part of a matrix of information, which is what Whoop does. I’m guessing you haven’t used one?

    I think gtom’s last paragraph is the most salient, and really gets at the heart of my original post. I personally agree with dansweet. There are some blind spots in its overall analysis of physical strain, but Whoop as a product does solve several problems that were brought up in the original post about HRV monitoring I was referencing, and at least 2 of us who have actually used them have found Whoop to produce a positive impact on our lifestyles and training, which is more that I can say for 99% of wearable devices out there today, and from the sounds of it more or less all other HRV apps.

    The challenge in my mind is whether its worth 30 bucks a month forever. I’ve committed to 6 months in order to pay off the initial cost of the band, and in my mind, at $180, that’s not a half bad deal to get some statics on how your body is responding to strain and recovery. As a temporary thing that you can then use to glean some information about your body and carry that forward, no longer wearing the band, its not a bad deal. The question is whether its worth continuing the membership after you’ve learned what you need to.

    I’m leaning towards no, that that $30 per month can be better used in other places once I learn what I’d like to from Whoop. That said, I will admit it seems to have predicted me getting sick this past week. My HRV was off, and my recovery score was weirdly low. I looked at it each morning after getting a solid 8 hours of sleep and resting the day before, and my recovery is only 46%. Kinda shrugged it off and went to the gym. Next day, same thing. Day after that, sick. Sounds like other people have had similar experiences. Anecdotal I know, and Whoop is careful to not market this as a predictor of you getting sick, but it’s an interesting development that mighhhttt make it worth keeping Whoop on at least during the most significant parts of a training program. Like pause the membership most of the year and turn it on when you really ramp things up in the middle of a period. Probably not, and the obvious thing to do is to just know thyself and all that. But kinda cool having some numbers to put to the amorphous “am I ready to train today” question that comes up pretty much daily for most athletes. Worth at least a conversation IMO, it does seem Whoop is on to something, even if its not perfect.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #38333

    Your money would be better spent trying Omegawave. Half the cost per month and much better information.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #38334

    Also, to clarify, I didn’t say that good marketing means they are disqualified. That wouldn’t make any sense. I said that the only thing they do well is marketing.

    Here’s a well-designed study on the shortcomings of HRV.

    Participant
    gtom on #38410

    And gtom, it seems your overall statement is that HRV should be evaluated as part of a matrix of information, which is what Whoop does. I’m guessing you haven’t used one?

    Nowadays every HRV product does that. HRV4Training, ithlete, mysassy, …

    Regarding 24×7 HR readings, that’s what most smart/sport watches do already. Do one need another specific device just for that? I know Whoop does more than 24×7 HR but just from this perspective its the same as other devices. I’ve personally seen quite good correlation between over night HR readings from Garmin and morning HRV readings with chest strap.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #38637

    Gadget talk, especially related to HRV, always reminds me of this song.

    Participant
    shawnryan on #38656

    Scott, haha. Fair enough! Sometimes I miss the good old days before I could afford fancy gadgets, and the shenanigans that come with them. I remember growing up around my dad and his climbing buddies, wondering why they spent so much time talking about stuff that didn’t seem all that important, and here I am, at 30, doing what they did. That didn’t take long! Omegawave seems cool, but message received to stop talking about gadgets and go climb something.

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