For Father’s Day my wife and kids treated me to a great WOW down at UE.  Wendy did her WOW afterwards.  Images are up on Instagram/Twitter.

Doug: Lumbar Extension on SS Systems Pulldown, MedX Leg Press (seat reclined), Med X Chest Press (horizontal handles), Nautilus Pullover with SS retrofits, MedX Chest Press (vertical handles top half of movement), SS Systems Neck Flexion, MedX Compound Row with SS cam, SS Systems Neck Extension.

Wendy:  MedX Chest Press, SS Systems Pulldown, Lateral Raise (jrep halves), EZ barbell curls, bench dips, MedX Leg Press, Freehand SS Squat, manual neck flex/ext.

Discussion on last week’s WOW brought up discussion of a topic that I am embarrassed to say, I have little to no knowledge about…the topic of heart rate variability (HRV).  Skyler Tanner and Simon Shawcross have both been using HRV monitors to guide them as to their recovery status.  I have always been somewhat against the notion of “body hacking” as I think it commonly implies a hubris that overlooks the true complexity of the human body.  In regards to recovery, I have always used a simple temporal measure of recovery and have tried to verify the temporal measure retroactively by using my progress chart.  Over time I have found that this is an incredibly blunt instrument for measuring what exists (many times) on a razor’s edge.  Also, in my career as an emergency physician, I have found that the stress of the job and/or the circadian disruption seem to have much more of an impact on my recovery status than the actual workout or my proximity to it.  Many times I have also felt that my angst about my workouts themselves (issues of cognitive dissonance regarding protocol), or concern about my recovery interval (workout today or 2 days later) played a more negative role in my ability to handle the workout than any issue related to intensity/volume/frequency.

So I decided to hit up PubMed and all I can say is Holy Cow!  This has been a huge area of study with implications not only for exercise, but for my medical career.  Thinking back, I can strongly correlate patients with bad outcomes from multiple conditions that seemed to show some element of autonomic instability.  Indeed, much of what I have been reading suggests that poor HRV is predictive of bad outcomes for multiple diseases.  Dave Asprey really bent my ear at the last 21 Convention talking about HeartMath and the trainability of HRV.  Turns out there is a ton of research verifying that HRV is trainable, and when acquired through training, appears to confer the health benefits that correlate with spontaneously high HRV.  In BBS one of our definitions of health was “an appropriate balance between anabolic and catabolic states”.  It turns out that it is also an appropriate balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic state….AND, this state is trainable.  I selected the article below as just an example of many.  I selected it for the following reasons:  1)It appeared in a MAJOR journal 2) It is a good overview and 3) I found the “billion heartbeats/lifetime across all mammals” fascinating.

So in the comments section, please feel free to recommend what monitors and apps to use, as I want to give this a try.  I also wonder if it could give me some feedback regarding a question that has nagged me for the past 10 years: Is good better than perfect?  In workouts where I was meticulous in every detail and gave my best Zen-like performances, they were always followed by some degree of ROBAT, but significant degrees of irritability, depressed mood and lack of psychic flexibility.  Workouts that were good, but not perfect, leave me with a sense of well-being in all realms.  Perhaps HRV could lend some objective data to this observation.  Perhaps HRV along with measurement of critical myokines could provide some answers as well.  Maybe a dissertation idea Skyler?

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts. (photo from last week’s WOW).