Tracking your fitness and wellbeing is becoming more structured and less periodic with the availability of wearable devices capable of monitoring important fitness and health metrics 24/7.
The latest WHOOP 4.0 wristband is designed to help you track the impact of your training activity, as well as your recovery and sleep, to identify actions that will help you maintain and improve your fitness.
It’s used by many athletes, including the EF Education–EasyPost pro cycling team, to track recovery, sleep and health metrics. This, in turn, helps inform how one should train on a given day.
What is WHOOP?
WHOOP is a fitness coaching system that captures data about your fitness using the WHOOP Band 4.0, a non-invasive monitoring device that you wear on your wrist 24/7.
Together with the WHOOP app, the system analyzes your personal data to provide insights into three areas that form the three pillars of the WHOOP service: effort, recovery and sleep.
WHOOP rates your stress level based on the activity you have undertaken that day. It also identifies your recovery status to gauge your training readiness and tracks your sleep, which in itself is an essential part of the recovery process. We’ll talk about these metrics in more detail a bit later.
According to WHOOP: “You can only manage what you measure – WHOOP helps you understand the decisions you need to make today, so you can be the best possible version of yourself tomorrow.”
WHOOP says it acts as a “personalized digital fitness and health coach” telling you what you can and should do to maintain and improve your performance.
The WHOOP 4.0 band is not a GPS watch. WHOOP says it’s designed to give you different data from a bike watch or a bike computer because it monitors your fitness and activity all day, off the bike as well as on, and provides structured feedback and recommendations.
How does WHOOP work?
The WHOOP Band 4.0 optical sensors continuously record your heart rate, heart rate variation, blood oxygenation, respiratory rate and skin temperature.
This data is fed to the WHOOP smartphone app, where it is analyzed and all data is correlated to give you insights into your fitness, give you insight into your performance, and give you feedback you can use to periodize your exercise and improve your performance.
You also don’t need to keep WHOOP 4.0 on your wrist, as the company sells a range of smart wearables, known as WHOOP Body, allowing you to wear the device in multiple locations on your body, as well as to offer a bicep band for your upper arm.
What does WHOOP measure?
As mentioned above, WHOOP uses the data it collects to give you insight into a wide range of factors that can affect your fitness and performance, which it organizes into three pillars: “Strain”, “Recovery” and “Sleep”.
First, WHOOP will give you an assessment of your strain. At its most basic, strain is a measure of the cardiovascular load placed on your body during an individual activity or over the course of a day.
Effort is calculated based on the time you spend in your heart rate zones. As the heart rate percentile range increases, the impact it will have on your stress score also increases, so a one-hour interval session will, for example, carry more weight. only a one hour walk. The strain is also customized to take into account an individual’s physical condition, with the score then weighted accordingly.
It’s not just workouts, with things like anxiety, work and parenthood all affecting your fatigue score, which the app rates on a scale of zero to 21.
WHOOP will automatically detect your activities each day and provide you with a weekly activity report with a reading of your effort per day, as well as a plot of your average heart rate and estimated calories burned.
WHOOP also includes a ‘Strain Coach’, which recommends a target exercise load for the day based on your recovery and allows you to monitor whether your activity level during the day reaches your target strain level.
The goal of the Strain Coach is to help you train in tune with your body, knowing when to push and when to rest, helping you avoid overtraining.
The second pillar of WHOOP’s service is its assessment of your recovery status. It is a personalized measurement of your body’s ability to engage in activity, based on four parameters: heart rate variability, resting heart rate, respiratory rate and sleep.
WHOOP analyzes your recovery status on a scale of 0-100% and categorizes these values with a three-band traffic light system.
If your recovery score is between 0 and 33%, it is marked red and WHOOP will suggest that you aim for a rest day. A yellow recovery score between 34% and 66% suggests you’re ready for moderate activity, while a green recovery score above 67% means you’re ready for a day of peak performance.
The third pillar of WHOOP is its monitoring and analysis of your sleep, including quality, quantity, and consistency.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of recovery, when your body resets for the next day. Good quality sleep improves recovery, fitness and well-being.
WHOOP rates the sleep you need and compares it to your actual sleep “performance” each night, giving you a sleep score between 0% and 100%.
Its ‘Sleep Coach’ analyzes your circadian rhythms and recommends your optimal bedtime and wake-up time based on its measurements of your sleep needs.
It will wake you up at the best time in your sleep cycle the next morning with smooth haptic alerts through the WHOOP 4.0 band, so you’re not woken up like an alarm clock.
While you sleep, WHOOP monitors your deep, light, and REM sleep cycles and assesses your heart rate, breathing, and heart rate variability to help determine your baseline fitness and recovery status, and identify trends over time.
Besides the basic pillars, the latest addition to WHOOP’s service is its health monitor, designed to give you an overall assessment of your health status.
It determines baseline values - including blood oxygen, skin temperature and heart rate – and helps you spot improvements and variations over time. It will automatically alert you to significant deviations and you can download and export 30 or 180 day trends.
WHOOP notes that this is not a medical device, so you will need to see a practitioner for a full diagnosis and evaluation of any medical condition.
What can you expect from using WHOOP?
WHOOP has studied the actions and understanding its members have achieved through use of the system. According to WHOOP, the results show that 81% of its members made positive behavioral changes, with 83% understanding better how their bodies work.
WHOOP claims that 89% of its members improved their understanding of their sleep needs, with an average of 41 minutes longer sleep, better sleep quality and an increase in REM sleep.
The brand has also identified practical benefits, with 31% of its members reducing the number of days they ate a late meal and 46% drinking alcohol on fewer days, based on the impact it has on people. user measurements.
By periodizing training based on stress and recovery scores, WHOOP says its members reduced the number of sports injuries sustained due to overuse, but still achieved the same fitness gains as a a group of witnesses.
How much does WHOOP cost?
You can subscribe to the WHOOP service on a monthly, annual or 24-month basis, with the WHOOP 4.0 band included as part of the membership.
In the UK and Europe, a monthly subscription with a minimum of 12 months costs £27/€30 or you can sign up for 12 months for £264/€300 – that’s £22/€25 per month.
Opt for a 24-month subscription and you’ll pay £432/€480 upfront, bringing the price down to £18/€20 per month.
Equivalent US prices are $30 per month, $300 for 12 months, or $480 for 24 months.
Membership includes 24/7 service support and access to new features, metrics and updates as soon as they go live.