Measuring HKPIs (Human Key Performance Indicators) such as Heart Rate Variability can give us a greater insight into our performance and recovery

Measuring heart rate as an indication of performance has been a ‘thing’ for decades.

Whether it’s checking your resting pulse first thing in the morning to determine how well recovered you are, or monitoring it in real time during exercise to help you decide whether to push harder or back off.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all up to speed with the fundamentals.

What is heart rate?

Heart rate is simply the number of times your heard beats each minute (bpm).

Every cell in your body requires fuel and oxygen for normal function. They get this oxygen from blood pumped around the body by the heart, and the greater the demand from your body the faster your heart has to beat to meet that demand.

Even sitting down reading this article your cells are burning energy. They need oxygen to do this so your heart ticks along at ‘resting’.

Get up and do a few start jumps though, and your muscles will be burning through energy and oxygen at a much faster rate, so your heart rate increases to meet this demand (and it stays elevated for a while after you sit back down again whilst you recovery).

One of the reasons fitter people tend to have lower resting heart rates is because their heart muscle tends to be stronger, and so pumps more blood with each beat.

Just one of the advantages of cardiovascular training.

Heart rate can tell us how hard we’re working, and how much fitter we’re getting, and how well we’re recovering, so it’s a useful thing to pay attention to.

But there’s another heart-related metric we can monitor that gives us a deeper insight into performance and recovery, and that is your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Heart Rate Variability

A heart rate of 60bpm is an average of 1 beat per second, but the reality is that most of the time these beats are not regular.

HRV is a measure of the variability in the interval between beats, and is closely connected with whether our nervous systems are in recovery or stressed mode.

Yesterday I caught up with human performance expert Simon Shepard from Optima-Life, who specialises in monitoring HRV and interpreting the data in a way that helps people improve their performance and resilience.


It’s a fascinating subject, and in this 35 minute interview Simon presents a number of examples to demonstrate exactly why we should be paying attention to HRV whether we’re training for an event or trying to perform optimally at work.

Simon is currently offering readers of my blog and members of my online communities the chance to work with his team to track and analyse your personal HRV data at a discounted rate.

Usually £222 for the analysis, the special offer is just £165 with delivery to the UK and Ireland.

You will be sent a device to wear for 3 days and asked to track your activities via an online diary, then send it back to Optima-Life.

After the data has been extracted and anaylsed, you’ll have a feedback session over the phone to discuss your results and learn how you can optimise your performance and recovery.

If you’d like to find out more, email me directly at george and I’ll pass on your details to Optima-Life for the discount.

As I write this blog a device on its way to me and I’m looking forward to my own analysis in a couple of weeks’ time!