In 2012, Will Ahmed was a college senior and Captain of the squash team at Harvard. Even though he was a division 1 college athlete, he was amazed by how little he actually knew about his body. He and his teammates would typically train for three hours a day, yet none of them had any idea if or how their effort was actually improving their performance. Injuries and overtraining were very common.
Ahmed became obsessed about understanding how a human, especially an athlete, could optimize his or her daily performance. He met with cardiologists and physiologists at Harvard, and he read more than 300 medical papers. That year, he also launched a fitness wearables company called WHOOP, along with co-founders John Capodilupo and Aurelian Nicolae.
Eight years later, WHOOP was valued at more than $1 billion.
WHOOP (There It Is)
Professional athletes have played a key role in WHOOP’s exponential growth. Two of the company’s first 100 users were Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and four-time NBA champion Lebron James. In 2017, WHOOP became the first wearable approved in Major League Baseball (MLB), and the company also became partners with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). WHOOP’s investors include a number of the world’s top professional athletes, such as Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, 2-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, and many others.
Today, anyone can become a WHOOP member. The subscription fee is $30 per month. As a member, you get a WHOOP strap that you wear on your wrist 24/7. You also get access to a coaching platform designed to help you optimize your health and performance. In this article, you will learn how WHOOP is unique and why it is the ultimate fitness tracker for forming stronger habits.
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Two Reasons Why I Use and Recommend WHOOP
There are many different fitness trackers on the market. Here are two reasons why I use WHOOP and why I recommend it for anyone else who wants to optimize their health and performance:
1. Simple, Distraction-Free Design
Many fitness trackers notify and distract you throughout the day. This makes it much harder to focus. In comparison, the WHOOP strap has no screen or clock, and notifications are never pushed to you. So, you are never interrupted with a prompt, an incoming message or call, or a notification from an app.
The WHOOP strap is also lightweight. After a few days, you forget that you are wearing it. Even better, you can wear it in the shower, and you can charge it while wearing it, so you never have to take it off.
Note: You should not charge your WHOOP strap while showering, and you should only charge it when it is dry.
2. Much More Valuable Metrics
Many fitness devices track metrics that are popular but that actually add little or no value when it comes to optimizing your health and performance. For example, many fitness trackers just monitor how many steps you log each day.
It would be nice if logging a certain number of steps each day was all that you needed to do to perform your best. In reality, a daily step count is an inaccurate over-simplification of what you really want to monitor. (Read this article to learn more about why step-tracking is pointless.)
WHOOP provides much more valuable data (covered in detail below) than most fitness trackers. In addition, WHOOP even provides personalized coaching recommendations to help you form stronger habits and optimize your health and performance in the future.
What Does WHOOP Track?
There are three primary metrics that WHOOP tracks:
The first metric that WHOOP tracks is Strain. Each day, you get a Strain score that increases throughout the day. You also receive a Strain score for an individual activity, such as a weightlifting session or a run. Your Strain score is on a scale of 0 to 21- both for an individual activity and for the entire day.
The higher your heart rate gets, and the longer the duration, the higher the Strain for an activity. All-out workouts are considered 18 and above, strenuous workouts are considered 14-18, moderate workouts are considered 10-14, and everything below 10 is considered light or minimal activity.
The same 0-21 scale applies for your Strain score for the entire day. You can also see calories burned, average heart rate, and max heart rate for a given day or for a specific activity.
Strain is personalized to account for differences in fitness and ability. So, two people could complete the same workout and get very different Strain scores. For example, a “moderate” workout for one person could be a “strenuous” workout for someone else.
Each morning, your WHOOP tracker also gives you a Recovery Score. This number is reported on a 0-100% scale and is broken into three colors/levels:
- Green (67-100%): indicates that your body is “sufficiently” recovered
- Yellow (34-66%): indicates that your body is “adequately” recovered
- Red (0-33%): indicates that your body has “low” recovery
When your recovery is higher, your body is primed to take on more strain. Lower recovery scores suggest the opposite. Too many days in the red is a clear sign that you are not giving your body an adequate chance to recover.
There are four key metrics that go into your Recovery score:
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV): This measures the difference in the amount of time between successive heart beats. (Higher scores are actually better.)
- Resting Heart Rate (RHR): This is a measure of your heart rate when you are at complete rest.
- Respiratory Rate: This is the number of breaths that you take per minute, on average, during your time asleep.
Other factors that impact recovery include your overall health and fitness level, your recent strain, your diet and hydration, and your stress level.
Each morning, your WHOOP tracker also gives you a Sleep Performance Score for the previous night. This score tracks your overall sleep performance on a 0-100 scale, with 100 indicating that you got all the sleep that you needed the night before.
You can also see how much time you spent in bed, how much of that time you were actually asleep, how many disturbances you had during the night, and your respiratory rate.
Another extremely valuable feature is that your WHOOP tracker recommends how much sleep you need to get the next night in order to “peak” or “perform” or “get by” the next day. This recommendation is based on your baseline sleep need, recent sleep debt, and the recent strain that you put on your body. (More strain today will require more sleep tonight.)
Your WHOOP tracker also recommends how much time that you need to spend in bed in order to meet your sleep need for a given night. For example, my WHOOP tracker usually recommends that I spend about 45 minutes more time in bed in order to hit my actual sleep goal for a given night.
Summary and Final Thoughts
All of your WHOOP data is stored, and it’s easy to refer back to a previous day, week, or month. WHOOP also sends you weekly and monthly summaries, so you can see how you are trending over time.
Your WHOOP membership also includes other valuable features, including access to a Journal where you can track different behaviors and the impact that they have on your performance. For example, you could measure the impact that drinking coffee or eating a certain type of diet has on your sleep performance.
In addition, WHOOP membership includes access to a community feature, where you can join teams with friends, family, or other people with similar interests (i.e. weightlifting or running).
In summary, WHOOP is the ultimate fitness tracker for forming stronger habits. It helps you understand your Strain, Recovery, and Sleep on a daily basis, and it provides personalized recommendations to help you make positive changes to your lifestyle.
I highly recommend that you try out WHOOP.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and executive recruiter, and his work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com. His latest book is titled Work Stronger: Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work.