Ask the expert: What is heart rate variability and does it matter?

Marco Altini highlights the importance of an overlooked marker of fatigue

Cyclist dressed in casual clothes lying on bed reading from their smartphone
(Image credit: Dan Gould)

There are certain nagging questions in cycling that have a tendency to generate conflicting opinions and a confusing array of different views. In this ASK THE EXPERT series from Cycling Weekly’s print edition, we seek to clear up confusion by seeking out the experts best qualified to provide, if not the final word, then at least authoritative advice supported by verified expertise.

As a cyclist experiences stress – physical or psychological – their body responds via changes in autonomic nervous system activity. This innervates the heart, affecting heart rhythm. This is why measuring heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) gives us insights into the stress response. 

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