At A Glance
WHOOP is a fitness and wellness wearable and app that tracks your heart rate, respiratory rate, and heart rate variability. It provides actionable insights into how you can optimize your workout and recovery routines and helps you visualize how these categories trend over time.
WHOOP provides users with actionable data for making the most out of their workouts, improve the quality of their sleep, and challenge themselves to continuously improve.
It's an intuitive tool backed by a well-designed app and a rapidly growing community; speaking personally, leveraging my WHOOP's insights has helped me take my workouts to the next level. Having access to the data WHOOP provides is totally worth the small monthly subscription fee.
Meet WHOOP, the Fitness Wearable Your Workouts Need
A few months back, a reporter with the New York Times contacted me to discuss the ways in which communities of men could use fitness as a way to facilitate mental health conversations. The interview centered around an app called WHOOP. At the time, I hadn't heard about WHOOP and I wasn't familiar with what it did, so I could only comment on the mental health aspects.
Since that interview:
- The wellness startup has raised $405 million in funding, bringing the company's value up to an estimated $3.6 billion valuation.
- WHOOP has announced the release of the V4 version of their eponymous WHOOP Strap and other wearables.
- I have become a WHOOP customer.
Overall, I have been quite happy with my WHOOP. In this article, I want to break down what I like about it, what I think could be better, and why I recommend it, especially for intermediate and advanced fitness enthusiasts.
What WHOOP Does Well
My background is in the SaaS (software as a service) industry. In the SaaS field, every decision you make has to be rooted in data and predicted outcomes. While this may not sound particularly relevant to a gym routine, stick with me.
Data is powerful. With data, you can make more informed decisions about what will produce ideal outcomes.
WHOOP Creates Actionable Data Insights
WHOOP gives you data about yourself.
This is particularly valuable when it comes to the intensity of your workouts. For example, I'm primarily a weight lifter. When I go to the gym, I don't sit around on my phone the whole time or sit in comfortable amounts of resistance.
WHOOP Helps Me Make My Workouts More Intense
Each workout, I push myself to move more weight, improve my form, and challenge my body past where I was before. In short, I have pretty intense workouts.
Despite this, the first time I measured my workout strain with my WHOOP strap, it only registered a strain of 4.8, which was still considered restorative.
I was confused– I had busted my ass to complete that workout. How could it still be restorative?
Well, I hadn't been accounting for specific adaptations. Workouts that once would have likely registered a strain of 7 or higher are now below a strain of 5 because my body has adapted to them.
Seeing that my lifting was still within the restorative range, I decided to try different routines that I didn't usually do with consistency. I started integrating powerlifting and compound lifts into my routine with greater frequency, and I made bodyweight exercises and HIIT sequences staples within my routine. I had been doing them a bit before, but not consistently.
As I centered more compound and explosive movements in my routines, my strain score jumped up to 9+ per workout.
To further push me into the optimal range and meet my daily strain targets, I also carved out time for more cardio and more movement throughout my day. Seeing how my heart rate remained steady throughout the day and only really spiked during my workouts, I knew that I needed to make movement more of a priority, which can be a challenge with an office job.
I Can Track and Visualize My Progress Over Time
Again– I'm already in good shape. I'm a lifter and a certified personal trainer with a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet. In spite of this, WHOOP has helped me visualize where I'm doing well and where I could be doing better, which has been hugely beneficial and has improved my workout intensity while decreasing the time I spend sedentary each day.
Being able to get insights into how my body balances recovery and strain, and how those are trending over time, help me to ensure that I am giving my body what it needs from day to day to function optimally.
What are WHOOP's Downsides?
So far, I've been incredibly happy with my WHOOP strap. There isn't a ton that stands out to me as a downside.
If I'm being nit-picky, I would highlight that my WHOOP strap is my first piece of wearable fitness tech. Getting accustomed to having the strap on virtually 24/7– only taking it off to wash– was a bit of a challenge for me. The WHOOP-sized indentation on my forearm, however, is now totally used to accommodating the strap and I barely notice it.
There have also been a couple of instances of my WHOOP strap getting in the way while working out. I really only notice it while doing cable flys– when coming to the end of the movement, the handles on the cable hit against my strap and make the movement feel a bit awkward, but it doesn't stop me from completing the movement.
With regards to the strap rarely getting in the way, I did see recently that the WHOOP 4.0 includes more wearable options, including shorts and armbands, which I suspect solve this problem. I haven't tried out these other forms of attaching my WHOOP yet, though, so I can't speak to them at this time.
WHOOP is Easy, Convenient, and Has Great Battery Life
My WHOOP strap can last almost an entire week without needing to be charged, and when it does need to be charged, I get an in-app alert on my phone well in advance. I don't have to worry about it dying mid-workout. WHOOP's battery life is one of its most impressive features.
Charging is also convenient since you don't have to have your strap tethered to an outlet. WHOOP charges using a battery pack which you charge separate from the strap itself. Charge up the battery pack, attach it to your WHOOP strap while still wearing it, and continue going about your day until your battery is back up to full.
Once you get used to wearing the strap virtually 24/7, you don't have to actively think about or plan your health monitoring. It's always there and running in the background.
What I Hope to See From WHOOP In the Future
As much as I love WHOOP, there are a few features I hope to see in the future that would make it even better.
WHOOP is still a relatively young company, and they're actively innovating and rolling out new features at a steady pace. Their upcoming rollout of WHOOP 4.0 speaks to that. If a generous product manager at WHOOP sees this blog post, here are a few of the features I'd love to someday see.
- I wish I could log more specific details about my workouts in the WHOOP app. For example, when I set the app to measure my weightlifting session, I'd love to be able to further denote which lifts I was doing throughout my workout. Being able to get into how specific movements and weight loads affect strain would be amazing.
- More specific recommendations and reminders. When I'm stationary at my desk for an entire workday, it'd be nice to get an alert around lunchtime along the lines of "you've been sitting for four hours– would you like to take a walk?" or something similar as a gentle reminder to get moving.
- Perhaps I'm biased by being a SaaS product manager, but I also think it could be valuable to have an ecosystem around the WHOOP data, such as trainer matching based upon goals and average performance.
Want to Try WHOOP For Yourself?
Whether you're just getting started at the gym or are already a fitness enthusiast, WHOOP can help you take your workouts to the next level.
I'm a certified personal trainer who lifts 5-6 days each week, and WHOOP has been instrumental in making my workouts even more intense and valuable.
I definitely recommend giving it a try. WHOOP is currently offering a $30 discount for our readers. All you have to do is head over to join.whoop.com/selfhimprovement.