Although this is an extreme example, it’s still a good representation of why you can’t rely solely on technology to make decisions on how to act.

This is my morning HRV reading from this past Sunday.  Looks pretty damn impressive right?

I mean, this dude’s gotta be ready to rock the fuckin’ house!

Except, I’m not.  Far from it.

I contracted some kind of 48-hour virus while in Barcelona that punched me right in the mouth.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve been as sick.

I mean, like – put a bullet in my head sick.  Just awful.

Now, I’m on the upswing today, and by tomorrow I think I ought to be good to go.  But I was sure as hell *not* ready to tackle anything even close to a meaningful workout Sunday.  In fact, the steady dose of sauna and Turkish baths I’ve done over the last couple of days to help flush this shit out is about all I can handle.

Note: my heat tolerance is in the toilet as well.  Rotating through a couple of minutes at a time each was all I could handle.  Then it was back to my death bed.

And the thought of hustling through airports over the next couple of days is, right now, a horrible thought.

But back to that stellar HRV reading.  What gives?

Hell if I know.  But here are some ideas:

  • I am, in fact, Wolverine.  Seriously, though – I am, if nothing else, a resilient fuck. Like a cockroach, I can take a pummeling and bounce right back.
  • Getting sick in Barcelona is a drag for sure.  However, it has forced me to completely dial back the volume.  No workouts, no business stress, nada. So maybe I “banked” some CNS recovery stores?
  • Maybe CBD oil IS all that and a bag of (Paleo) chips for CNS tonification?
  • It’s a faulty reading

Now if this reading were taken in isolation, I would have agreed with that last point.  I mean, it has to be, right? I still feel little better than hammered dog shit!

But Check out this reading from the day prior.  This was when I was in the depths of my “take all the sharp objects from my room” woes.  In fact, even getting around to taking this reading required a monumental effort.

Not great for a week of doing absolutely nothing stressful.  But Jesus H Christ – compared to how I felt?

Again, this is an extreme example to make a point: objective data is fantastic, BUT you still have to get in touch with what your body is telling you.

Just as keeping a food journal allows you to get a feel (literally) for food/calorie intake and how different macros affect your satiation and overall feel, moodso and body comp, so too can (in particular) HRV allow you to dial in what it feels like to be in different states of recovery.  

So in that sense, we want to use these tools as aids, and not crutches.  It’s great to have access to the tool, but the goal should be to fly without it.  

Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world –


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Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.


  1. I really like (and recommend) HRV as an objective measure of recovery. However, I have never used it myself. This falls under the category of “I don’t ask questions I don’t want the answer to”. With my rotating ER schedule and the attendant stress of the job, I’m afraid it would never say I was ready to train. When I train has much more to do with my schedule than with how I feel. Sometimes the two issues coincide nicely, other times not. Decades of sucking it up have worked out OK.

    • I hear ya. And I wonder if dabbling in these technologies just further divorces us from ourselves? My intent with their use is to empower people to come to know themselves better. But a tool can become a crutch, quickly.

      You and I have been in the game long enough to “just know” when and how hard to push. And in a perfect world, our schedules would bend to accommodate each instance. But alas, I (and you) and most everyone out there must abide by the dictum of “not letting the perfect get in the way of the good”.


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