Can the WHOOP fitness tracker get in your head about your body?

[Thor has just struck Iron Man with a thunderbolt, knocking him down]

J.A.R.V.I.S: “Power to four-hundred percent capacity.”

Tony Stark: “How about that?”

 

Tony Stark, just before returning fire with his hand repulsor and knocking Thor down
Avengers (2012) 

Next to Tony’s hand repulsor, a can of whoop a** seems quaint. Can you imagine your own J.A.R.V.I.S. reporting on your health and performance 24/7?

Well, you don’t have to imagine it because it exists. They call it the WHOOP fitness tracker. It’s a flexible band you can wear in several places including  your wrist, bicep, sports bra, and much more.

I wore a Fitbit for a few years, but I found it sometimes under-reported steps, which led me to wonder what else it was under-reporting. That, and wanting the best sleep tracking I could afford, prompted me to try WHOOP.

I wear mine on my wrist. I wore it and my Fitbit for a month to compare their data tracking.  Though the WHOOP doesn’t track steps, it does track strain, recovery, and sleep, providing real-time updates and recommendations.

Though they both tracked workout activity well, I found the WHOOP better at tracking sleep, particularly if I woke then returned to sleep. My Fitbit took more of a one-and-done approach to sleep-tracking.

After just over a month, my Fitbit strap broke. Caving to the pressure? Maybe. Either way, I’ve flown solo with WHOOP ever since.

Let’s break it down.

Strain tracking

“Eeee–rrrr–hhhh!!!”

 

Scrat, pinned to his seat and straining against the G- force as the spaceship he’s launched accelerates
Ice Age 5: Cosmic Skrat-Tastrophe

WHOOP tracks strain in real-time using heart rate data. Whether your heart rate rises from a strenuous workout or a stressful day, WHOOP records and reports on it.

Even throws a little shade your way when you overdo it: “You exceeded your strain goal today. Go to bed early…”

When you first get your WHOOP, it’ll prompt you for the workout type. Was it Weightlifting, Walking, any of several other choices, or Other? Recording several workouts trains WHOOP to predict your workout with accuracy.

Minutes after you complete a workout, your activity is Pending for a moment while it processes for your review.

When you review the workout results, you’ll learn:

  • How much strain you experienced during your workout
  • How your workout compares to previous workouts

You’ll understand how everything from your morning walk, to your home workout, to your afternoon meeting impacts your body and contributes to your total strain score.

The strain score is important because WHOOP doesn’t just encourage you to engage in more activity for fitness gains, it also encourages rest so you can recover properly.

Recovery tracking

Duke: “All right. What’s happening out there?”

Rocky: “He’s winning… I see three of them out there.”

Paulie: “Hit the one in the middle.”

Duke: “Right! Hit the one in the middle.”

 

Rocky talking with his corner about his first round beating at Ivan Drago’s hands.
Rocky IV (1985)

Recovery tracking tells you how well you’re bouncing back from strain and teaches you about your body’s response to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors. This is your morning health snapshot, indicating your body’s readiness, or lack thereof, to face the day’s challenges.

WHOOP calculates your recovery score on a 0-100% scale using your:

  • Heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Resting heart rate (RHR)
  • Sleep data

I wonder how many times I pushed through workouts when resting would’ve reduced my susceptibility to injury or illness. While I don’t know how accurate WHOOP is with measuring this, I do know I could improve in this area.

Heart rate variability (HRV)

HRV is a key metric here. It’s like the rhythm of your health, with variations in your heartbeat intervals signaling your body’s readiness to perform. A high HRV suggests your body is well-recovered and ready to tackle intense activities, while a low HRV might mean you need more rest.

Resting heart rate (RHR)

WHOOP describes RHR as “…the average number of times your heart beats per minute while in a complete state of rest.” It measures it at the end of your sleep cycle during Slow Wave Sleep.

A lower RHR may indicate better fitness. Why? A stronger heart pumps more blood with every beat, so it doesn’t work as hard.

Build that muscle and let it coast.

Sleep tracking

“I got you babe.
I got you babe.”

 

Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe, playing on the radio each time Phil Connors wakes to relive Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day (1993)

Sleep tracking involves understanding your sleep’s quality and structure.

WHOOP provides insights into how each sleep stage – Light, REM, and Deep – contributes to your recovery. It also calculates your sleep needs based on the day’s strain and your previous sleep performance.

Tracking these patterns can help you determine whether you need more sleep, a better sleep environment, a better nighttime routine, or all of them to help you improve your sleep quality.

WHOOP it up!

You know proper strain, recovery, and sleep contribute to your overall health, so tracking them in a meaningful way makes a lot of sense.

Am I saying you have to use WHOOP to track your strain, ecovery, and sleep? Nope. I’m saying I appreciate what WHOOP does for me.

I’ll also say that my commitment to health, fitness, and longevity includes data so I’m not just winging it or relying on subjective measures to draw conclusions.

Break the generational pattern that assumes “feeling fine” means you are fine.

What if you could feel fantastic?

What if you couldn’t fathom how much better you could feel?

Let data support your beliefs, quantify your results, and inform your decisions.

Your turn! How are you tracking your progress with your health journey?

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