The Efficacy of Heart Rate Variability in Tracking Travel and Training Stress in Youth Female Rowers: A Preliminary Study

J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Nov;34(11):3293-3300. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002499.


Egan-Shuttler, JD, Edmonds, R, and Ives, SJ. The efficacy of heart rate variability in tracking travel and training stress in youth female rowers: A preliminary study. J Strength Cond Res 34(11): 3293-3300, 2020-Heart rate variability (HRV) is a reliable indicator of cardiac parasympathetic activity and has been used in athletic populations to measure training adaptations. To date, there is limited research showing whether HRV is practical in youth female athletes and rowers during short periods of overload training. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the practicality of HRV in documenting training responses during a period of overload training in youth female rowers. Time-domain (SD of N-N intervals, SDNN; root mean square of successive differences, RMSSD) and nonlinear (SD1) indices of HRV were recorded during baseline training, daily during the 6-day training camp, and 1 week after the camp in 5 athletes from an elite, high-school, rowing team. Training duration and rate of perceived exertion were recorded to document training load. Training load during the camp was 76% above the athlete's normal workload (2,258 ± 459 vs. 1,280 ± 356 arbitrary units (a.u.)). Using progressive statistics, cardiac vagal activity (RMSSD and SD1) was very likely reduced during each day of the camp when compared with baseline training, although returned to baseline within a week of the training camp. Interestingly, SDNN was reduced throughout the training camp and remained reduced up to a week after the training camp (78% likely; effect size = -0.32). These insights add value to HRV's use in youth sport and provides coaches with an easy, cost-effective means to monitor the physiological response to training, allowing fine-tuning of training, potentially enhancing performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Travel
  • Water Sports / physiology*