What the pros use to maximize results and elimate plateuas
Q: Are there any cool fitness tools you use when training your clients that you think more people should know about?
A: Yes, there are definitely a few cool gadgets on the market that can help you gain more insight into the internal workings of your body. I've found that there are four key areas that I can monitor to significantly improve my clients/athletes training outcomes: sleep management, stress management, calorie management (from an expenditure perspective), and the intensity and recovery of the actual training session. Here's what I use to do just that:
The Zeo sleep management system is one of several products on the market designed to monitor sleep quality. All you have to do is wear a soft headband around your head and wirelessly connect it to your iPhone or Android phone. The device does all the rest.
What I like about this device in particular is that it doesn't just tell you how long or how well you slept (or didn't), but it actually tells you how much time you spent in each of the four different sleep stages (wake, REM, deep, and light). Plus, it gives you a proprietary ZQ score, which is basically a measure of overall sleep quality for a single night. Why should you care? Because sleep is extremely important for changing body composition and helps restore and rejuvenate your body and brain in many different ways (learn more about why sleep is essential for weight loss and more here).
To learn more about how the Zeo works, check out myzeo.com.
The Fitbit tracker is a 3-D motion sensor that tracks all of your movement—number of steps taken, distance traveled, floors climbed, calories burned, and even your sleep, although not as closely as the Zeo. You can log your daily food intake, weight loss (or gain), body composition measurements, etc. on the FitBit website, so it can help keep you accountable and aware of your progress.
No other advancement in training technology has had a greater impact on managing my clients/athletes progress than heart rate variability (HRV). This technology originated in Russia as part of their space training program in the 60s. Instead of just measuring heart rate, HRV determines the rhythmic pattern of your heartbeat, which allows the device to assess how much stress the body is under and how well you’re dealing with that stress. Finally, it objectively determines if your body has sufficiently recovered so you can train again.
Some HRV systems can be very pricey, but I’ve found the BioForce device and app to be the most accurate and economically viable option for most of my clients and athletes. You just need a heart rate monitor strap, a smartphone, the HRV hardware, the BioForce app, and about two or three minutes of your time before you get out of bed in the morning.
You’ll learn two things from each use: your resting heart rate and your HRV reading. Your HRV number will appear inside a color-coded rectangle called your daily change. Here’s what the different colors indicate in very simple terms:
Green = You’re good to go
Amber = You can train but you should lower the intensity by 20-30 percent for that day
Red = You should take the day off
To learn more about HRV monitoring, check out the BioForce website.
Most people are familiar with heart rate monitors and how they work. Their primary function is to measure your heart rate in real time so you can evaluate workout intensity and recovery time. This can be very helpful in determining the right intensity for you to improve aerobic fitness. One of my favorites is the Polar FT-80. It comes with a feature that makes it easy to upload all of your training information to their website and keep track of your progress.