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Strava updates Fitness and Freshness for heart rate monitor users

Keep better track of your fitness, fatigue and form with new Strava features

Strava has updated its Fitness and Freshness feature, previously only available to cyclists using a power meter, to those who only use a heart rate monitor.

The updated feature uses your Suffer Score, itself generated by how much time you’ve spent in different heart rate zones, and allows you to easily monitor levels of fatigue, fitness and form over time.

Strava has proved its usefulness to regular cyclists as a way of keeping track of how many hours and kilometres they have cycled every week and month, and beats the old days of writing down training rides in a diary (anyone here remember doing that?). 

The Fitness and Freshness feature aims to offer a relatively easy way to track what impact to your fitness and form your cycling and training is having, and help you to improve over time and work towards any goal events you might have. Being heart rate based also means it will appeal to runners and swimmers using Strava.

The Fitness Score is calculated using Training Load to make it easy to measure your daily training, allowing you to monitor your increase in fitness over a period of time. Strava have used an ‘impulse-response model’ developed by Dr. Eric W. Banister in 1975 and applied to cycling by Andy Coggan.

Bannister developed a heart rate-based model to determine the impact of training on performance, to better understand when to train and when to rest. Andy Coggan developed the training stress score (TSS) that is widely used in cycling by anyone using a power meter. Not everyone has a power meter though, Strava first launched this feature for those with one, but have now expanded it to anyone using just a heart rate monitor.

Ride hard lots and you’ll soon feel fatigued, and Strava aims to be able to display your increasing fatigue as a number so you can quantify your training load, and give yourself a rest or back off the intensity if you’re pushing it too hard.

“You'll notice the score go up quickly after a couple hard days, but also go down quickly as you take a few days off,” says Strava, meaning you should be able to ensure you don’t end up training when you’re tired and worn out, and give yourself some rest.

Form is the difference between your Fitness Score and Fatigue Score so you can see what sort of shape you’re currently in. We all know how good it feels when you have great form, but ensuring you have good form when you actually want and need it can be extremely tricky and challenging, so anything that helps you better ensure you’re in good form, especially if you’re aiming for a goal event like a sportive, time trial or race, can only be a good thing.

The Fitness and Freshness feature is only available to Strava Premium members, and can be found under the Training tab on the homepage. Check it out at www.strava.com

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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