Essentials of Fitness Technology
In an ever expanding world of futuristic tools, gadgets & gizmos available to us today, it is no wonder that advances in fitness technologies have skyrocketed over the past few years. Whilst there are many very high-tech things out there, the benefits of a lot are often not always obvious and don’t justify the expense. Below, however, are a couple of fantastic must-haves, in my opinion, that I want to share with those interested in how they can use technology to help them optimise their training & progress.
1) Sports watches
Sure these have been around for quite a while now in the form of basic digital watches, but there have been huge developments with regards to their functionality & capabilities to enhance your training. Not only is it great to have something to stringently measure rest times with, tell you how long you’ve been running…and of course tell you what time of day it is, but nowadays the things we strap around our wrists can tell us a whole lot more. For example, those with Heart rate functions can be great for allowing us to gauge how hard we are working and how well we are recovering (more on that in the next section). Similarly, some devices now, such as the Nike fuelband, Jawbone UP and FitBit Flex, can track a whole range of data about your daily life, such as the number of steps you take a day, the total distance you cover & information regarding the quality & duration of your sleep! All of which can be used to calculate things like calorie requirements, training loads, and to track recovery. Devices with GPS are can also provide invaluable information to the likes of runners & cyclists who are able to use them to monitor their speeds, distances and training routes, with many allowing progress to be logged over time so that you can visually see any improvements being made.
2) Apps to track recovery
One of my favourite fitness related apps, that I would recommend everyone to download, is called ‘Finger Tap Fit Test’, a free app on android phones (and iPhone I believe), which allows you to monitor your central nervous system (CNS) functioning every day. This is done via one quick test where you simply tap your phones screen as many times a possible in a given period of time, assessing the firing rate of your CNS. Once you establish a baseline test value for your CNS you can track fluctuations away from that to ultimately influence the training you undertake that day. For example, if your measurement today is much lower than it usually is that may be an indication that your nervous system has not fully recovered from the previous days exertions and therefore you may wish to avoid heavy, nervous system intensive training today to allow it time to recover. In which case, you may change your training intensity or modality accordingly to allow for this. Conversely though, days in which you wake feeling alive & ready to train hard, if after having taken your measurement you observe that your score is significantly higher than normal your CNS may be functioning particularly well that day. In which case you should be fired up and ready to train with a lot of intensity, therefore take advantage of this and modify your training accordingly.
Heart Rate (HR) Variability apps can also be very useful for a slightly different, yet still highly valuable reason. Downloading an app, or indeed using a product like the FitBit, which allows you to take a daily measurement of your HR (at a consistent time every day) and establish a baseline norm can be an excellent tool for monitoring recovery. For example, if you woke up today to find that your HR was 5-10beats higher than it normally is, at that time of day, this may be an indication that you are doing an excessive volume of training which your body is not be able to deal with sufficiently & so you may run into problems down the line, and that it certainly has not recovered from the previous session. Both scenarios may prompt you to therefore decrease your training volume for that day (at least) in order to give the body time to recover fully before ramping up the training volume again.
Hope this may help people, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the box below.