WHOOP helps some of the best athletes in the world optimize their training and make the most of their elite talent–but not everyone is elite. A question I get time and time again when I’m among family and friends, “What can WHOOP do for me?”
I’ve seen both sides of the coin. Despite my continued love of sports, I am no longer a hardcore athlete. I was a serious tennis player in my youth and a coach in my early adulthood, but shortly after I graduated from college my involvement in high-level athletics shifted more towards the role of spectator. And as much as I still enjoy playing tennis, basketball, softball, volleyball and any number of other sports, the older I get the more difficult it becomes to find both the time and the opportunities to participate.
I also consider myself a casual runner–jogging is easy to do and it doesn’t require anyone else to take part. If the weather is nice, I enjoy it immensely. Time on my own to clear my head and the chance to get outside on a sunny day are often as much my inspiration as staying physically fit. For those reasons, I’ve never been a fan of going to the gym (also, I can’t stand running on a treadmill). When winter hits, I tend to pack it in until spring time.
I’ve trained for races on occasion, ranging from 5Ks to half marathons, usually when those close to me convince me to sign up. In those instances, I’ve had an obvious goal–completing the allotted distance in a certain time.
Outside of that, with my days as a competitive athlete long behind me, I find it very hard staying motivated to work out regularly. My main issue is that I rarely manage to see obvious results. There have been times when I’ve decided to start doing daily sets of pushups or crunches, but I’ve never managed to stick with them long enough to notice any change to my physique (or lack thereof).
Maybe I don’t have it in me to develop a “beach body.” Is it possible I’m just a “nonresponder”? Or, is that simply an excuse for not being committed to working hard enough?
A piece written earlier this year by Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times explains the “nonresponder” concept in further detail:
“Is your workout getting you nowhere? Research and lived experience indicate that many people who begin a new exercise program see little if any improvement in their health and fitness even after weeks of studiously sticking with their new routine.
Among fitness scientists, these people are known as ‘nonresponders.’ Their bodies simply don’t respond to the exercise they are doing. And once discouraged, they often return to being nonexercisers.”
However, the article goes on to cite a recent study that suggests the “nonresponder” theory isn’t actually true. Researchers put a group of subjects through two very different three-week-long workout regimens (one consisting of endurance cycling and the other high-intensity interval training), with time in between to return to their original fitness baselines. The subjects’ VO2 max, submaximal heart rate and lactate threshhold were measured before and after each three-week period. Results showed that all participants benefited from at least method or the other, if not both.
Runner’s World Magazine also recently published a story entitled The Myth of Exercise “Non-Responders”, which cites a second study that came to a similar conclusion. Five different subject groups performed identical 60-minute workout routines, with each group doing the workout either one, two, three, four or five times per week. There were some “nonresponders” among those who only exercised 1-3 times per week, but everyone who trained 4-5 times a week showed signs of improved fitness.
While these studies may indicate that with enough time and effort everyone can eventually find a workout routine that brings results, many of us are never able to get to the point where we see noticeable changes in our appearance.
WHOOP has helped me realize the impact exercise has on my body in ways that aren’t obvious when I look in the mirror.
If you’re active, WHOOP knows it. No matter what you do on any given day, whether it’s a jog, a spin class, a weightlifting session, a pickup basketball game, or even a round of golf (average WHOOP Strain: 8.9), WHOOP quantifies the Strain it puts on your body. Even if you struggle with consistency and have trouble seeing the benefits of your workouts, the WHOOP Strain metric can assure you that they are having a real impact.
WHOOP recognizes when I need more sleep, and when I am less recovered than normal. It knows when my resting heart rate is high, and when my heart rate variability is low. Understanding these things enables elite competitors to maximize their performance, but it also helps the rest of us see value in our own athletic endeavors.