Since about mid-September of 2012 I started using a CNS Tap Test to see if it provided any indication of training fatigue or if it correlated with my HRV. In addition to tracking my tap test and HRV, I’ve also documented sRPE and sleep score.
Tap Test – On the tap test app, perform as many taps as possible in 10 seconds with right index finger and left index finger. I charted these values both separately as Right and Left as well as there total (sum). Tap test was performed immediately following morning HRV test.
HRV – Standard ithlete HRV measurement performed immediately after waking and bladder emptying. The measurements were all performed in the standing position. The ithlete uses the following formula for the HRV value: 20 x Ln (RMSSD). RMSSD is a time domain measure that reflects parasympathetic tone and has been shown to correlate reliably with the high frequency component of frequency domain measures (Sinnreich et al. 1998).
sRPE – Following a workout session I would rate perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10. Generally, active recovery/aerboic work would fall between 1-5 while resistance sessions fell between 6-10.
Sleep Score – I used the ithlete sleep rating score to track sleep quality. On a scale of 1-5 I would rate sleep quality after HRV measurement. Generally, an uninterrupted 7-8 hour sleep was rated as 5. One disturbance/wake was given a 4, etc.
Not Discussed – Today I will not be including discussion on strength performance in relation to HRV or Tap test as I did not really keep track of this. However, in the future I will do this once I determine the best way to quantify this.
Below are the charts with brief comments regarding training/stress for that month.
– High stress and lack of training in early October due to work related trip over 3-4 days.
– Most consistent training month, most sessions completed, most stable HRV, highest HRV Avg, highest Tap Test Avg, highest sleep score. (more on averages and sleep at the end)
– Highest strength demonstrated in this month out of the 4. Training interruption over the Christmas holiday.
– HRV effected by NYE party but Tap Test appears unaffected (alcohol, late night, etc.). Detrained slightly from lack of training of holidays. Training resumes, transitioning to lifting 4 days/week. Lowest HRV avg, lowest tap sum avg, fewest aerobic sessions.
Comparison of HRV, Sleep, and Tap Test Averages
– HRV and Tap Test both peak during November which also has the highest average sleep rating. However from the table above you can see that these are by very small percentages.
– In the table and chart below you can see that peak HRV and peak Tap average also occur during the month of most consistent training, most aerobic sessions and most overall training sessions.
– HRV, Tap Test Left, Right and Sum all reach lowest averages in January. January also has the fewest aerobic sessions and comes after a period of detraining (discussed in depth here) in late December.
Comparison of HRV, # of Aerobic Sessions, # of Resistance Sessions & Sum of all sessions
Highest HRV avg, highest sleep avg, highest tap sum avg, highest left tap avg all occur in November. This corresponds with most total and most aerobic training sessions.
Conversely, lowest HRV avg, lowest tap left, right and sum average occur during January which also corresponds with fewest aerobic sessions but not with lowest sleep avg.
As you can clearly see, there is very little variation in month to month values and therefore no significant or meaningful conclusions can really be made. However, my HRV data does fall inline with the overwhelming amount of research that shows HRV increases in response to aerobic exercise.
In a future experiment I will track performance ratings in addition to all of the other variables to see if there is any correlation. I will also plan some overload training to see how these markers respond. My training was relatively static during these 4 months.