Measuring Vitals to Prevent Over Training

Disclaimer “I'm not the greatest writer, I'm more of a numbers man. One thing I've learnt from all the CrossFit is, if you are rubbish at a particular skill you have to work at it. I'll apologise in advance for the grammatical errors.” - Dellus West 2012 London Bridge Osteopath


Measuring vital signs are generally used as indicators of one's overall health. Vital signs are the measurement of body temperature, respiration rate, pulse rate (PR) and blood pressure (BP). They offer clues to illness/disease and can help evaluate progress on recovery.


During the last two months I've recorded data as part of an ongoing experiment to measure some of my vital signs with a view to prevent over training, and more importantly provide a reference for comparison for future training and health purposes.


It became apparent during the 2011 season that I often over trained leaving me feeling run down, tired and lacking enthusiasm to carry on training. I was determined to enter the 2012 season which commences this week, feeling fresh and full of energy. Seeking advice I turned to Oscar McFarlane (Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Saracens Rugby). He informed me that top rugby teams used several objective methods to help track when players weren't recovering fully, placing them on active or complete rest.


The method I've adopted involves monitoring BP and PR values. On day 1 of a 5-week training cycle, I used a BP monitor to provide a reading and find a control value for BP and PR. I then recorded my BP every morning and compared this to my control value.


Analysis went as follows:


If my PR was 10% + higher than my control value, I red flagged the day and took a step back or reduced my training volume. In conjunction, if my BP strayed higher than the control value by 10%+ I followed the same protocol.


Taking a step back from training is actually a difficult thing to implement. You have to block out the training monster who tells you taking a day off is bad. Since following this protocol I haven't been run down or tired.


Why not give it a go? If you don't have a blood pressure monitor you can take your own pulse, all you will need is a watch to time the minute. Record the readings each morning and compare them to your control reading. Average pulse rate is 72 beats per minute.