I bought my Whoop back in March of this year, and it has been an invaluable tool in improving my recovery and inspiring me to make better and healthier choices.
I first heard about Whoop during the first lockdown of 2020 (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write). I was having a virtual Zwift catch-up – cycling with a friend through the flatlands of Watopia, while she was stuck indoors in South Africa, me in Ireland. I had seen the simple black band all over my social media, and I was conflicted – it looked like a really worthwhile investment in recovery, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that it was a monthly subscription. It seemed so pricey! My friend assured me it was a game-changer for her in terms of tracking recovery, taking rest days when needed and just getting to know how her body reacts to different types of workouts.
She also gave me her referral link to use, which meant I essentially got the band for free, and would only be paying for the monthly data subscription. I was convinced, and ordered one the following week!
So, what is the Whoop? The Whoop is an incredibly simple black band that you wear around your wrist. It hasn’t got any fancy buttons or even a watch face – the reason for this being that all of the data is provided through an app on your smart phone. It has two green LED’s on the underside of the strap that act as a heart rate sensor, and measure 4variables: heart rate variability, resting heart rate, sleep and respiratory rate. The Whoop app then gathers this data and calculates your recovery foreach day. Your recovery can fall into one of 3 zones: green, yellow or red.
The band also measures the exercise you do, or more specifically the cardiovascular load experienced, each day, and gives it aStrain score from 0 to 21. This is one star feature of the Whoop for me- it takes into account everything you do during the day, it doesn’t just record your workout. If you work a very physical job, it will take this into account and help you to build your training program around it. This is the beauty of the Whoop, and why I think so many athletes are opting for it.
Below, you can see the chart combining Strain andRecovery scores. A really interesting in-app feature is the Strain Coach, which will give you an optimal Strain recommendation for the day based on your recovery. Here is when a real-life coach can come in handy though. There have been some days when I’ve woken up with a red recovery, but have had a hard interval session or even a race. That’s just the principal of over-reaching. On these days, the Whoop is telling me to aim for a low Strain score – but I know that a race day will easily give me a 20 or 21 Strain! So, I guess what I’m saying is: the Whoop is an amazing tool, but you have to know when to use it and when to ignore it.
The Whoop is designed to act as a recovery strap that you never take off – the battery pack slides onto the strap, so you can literally track every single moment of your day. This is super helpful – I have used FitBits and Garmins in the past, and have lost track of the amount of times I’ve left it charging and forgot to put it back on.
Whoop works off a subscription basis – meaning you pay a monthly fee for the most up-to-date and cutting edge data/insights into your training and recovery. For some people, this is the deal-breaker – why can’tWhoop just work off a simple one-off payment like other brands? I think you need to make the decision between what you think is a worthwhile investment and what you think is just a fad. I think once you get it, you get a little bit addicted. Waking up every day, you want to get that extra 1 or 2% of recovery.
For me, I invest so much of my time into training and trying to be a better athlete that investing money into a Whoop was logical. It has made me more aware of the choices I make each day and how that impacts on my training and recovery. If a glass of wine automatically puts me in the red, I’m going to avoid it in the run-up to big races. If drinking 3L of water every day means I wake up in the green, I’ll drink it! If a new sleep supplement I’m taking helps me to increase my deep sleep by 5% each night, I’m going to continue taking it. I can look at the difference between doing apre-race activation session or an easy spin the day before a race and see which works best for me as an athlete. It has helped me to get to know my body better and inspired me to keep going with healthy choices.
I’ve seen some reports online of people saying theWhoop isn’t accurate in how it reads heart rate data. I would have agreed in the first month of wearing it. My daily calorie burn was less than my basal metabolic rate – so I knew something was up and I contacted Whoop to double-check things. I heard back within 10 minutes from a Whoop representative, who checked over my files with me. She asked me to send on photos of my Whoop and came back to me with the suggestion that I move my Whoop and tighten it. Instantly, the data was more accurate. I don’t think that it is fair to call the Whoop inaccurate. If you are really having problems with it, get in touch with the help team.
You’ll have seen that recently I took some time away from my Whoop. I felt like I had tracked so much data throughout this year, and had constantly been getting instant feedback from my Whoop and Wahoo, and I just felt like I needed some time to just ‘be’. I wanted to enjoy my off-season, and have a few glasses of wine, eat a pizza, or a whole bag of peanut M&Ms without worrying whether I’d be in the red the next day. I put it back on a few days ago and I’m looking forward to getting back on the straight and narrow, with the help of Whoop!
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