Whoop 4.0: The fitness tracker that stops you from overdoing it

If you haven’t yet embraced the trend of wearable technology, the Howl 4.0 can be a bit unnerving. It’s not trying to beat the Apple Watch or outdo the Samsung Watch 4. It doesn’t bounce your notifications off your wrist or track your running route with GPS. It doesn’t even have a screen, although you can strap it to your wrist.

But the Whoop 4.0 is probably the smartest training kit to buy if you’re trying to improve your athletic performance. The tiny sensor tracks your heart rate, blood oxygen level, skin temperature, and sleep, silently collecting data and transferring it to the app on your smartphone for evaluation.

Unlike a smartwatch, the Whoop 4.0 is part of a subscription service that you pay for every month. You don’t buy the band; You pay a fee for the service to get all the information about your health and athletic endeavors, and the band is free.

And that’s what it’s designed for: it’s purely for tracking your athletic efforts and recovery, although Whoop has thrown in haptic alarms to wake you up in the morning.

Whoop has made some improvements to the new version of their tracker. It’s smaller than the 3.0, though not as subtle as you’d like, and adds new sensors over the previous version, including skin temperature, which comes in handy in the ongoing pandemic.

The battery pack is wireless and is now IP68 rated, so you can use it to charge the band even when you’re in the shower. There’s no real need to take the band off, which is great as it’s designed to be worn throughout the day to get the most comprehensive data on your activity and recovery levels. Keep it close, because replacements are neither cheap nor plentiful right now.

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Using it is also easy. When you’re about to start an activity, you can use the app to select your chosen sport and let the band record your effort. There are plenty of options, from standard running, cycling, crossfit, dance, or scuba diving to circus arts, manual labour, skating, and even ice baths. As you wear the band for a few days, you unlock new insights, including a tension coach that will let you know when you’ve reached optimal effort for that activity. It’s pretty smart and gives you an idea of ​​how hard you need to work to improve or maintain your fitness, or recover from previous workouts.

You can also go back and add workouts afterwards if needed, and a diary option allows you to track Covid-19 symptoms, menstrual cycles, and other factors that may affect your recovery and well-being.

The band seemed reasonably accurate on heart rate, closely tracking another wrist-based heart rate monitor in the same workouts, so there were no concerns about the Whoop overestimating heart rates.

The tension/recovery balance was revealing. On the days when the Whoop band recorded my recovery as less than optimal and recommended that I cut it back a bit during the day, meeting the recommended effort goal for activities meant that I actually felt good at the end of the day instead of exhausted. Similarly, on days where my target tension was set higher, I felt more capable of doing harder workouts.

On the other hand, there were times when I felt like I pushed myself harder than the band had recorded, and seeing the tension bar stay below my goal was a reality check. But I guess the Whoop, and the heart rate, don’t lie. It became a daily goal to get the blue bar to reach the tension goal that the Whoop app set for me; the same goes for the recovery goal, which depends not only on sleep, but also on heart rate variability.

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Detailed performance reviews are also helpful, giving you a better perspective on how you’re doing and tracking your improvements over the weeks. You can also export them to send to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

The good When it comes to fitness information, Whoop 4.0 will give you the additional information you need to improve your fitness or tell you when to reduce it to avoid injury. It’s reasonably lightweight and while not the most subtle of trackers, the Superknit bands are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Silicone bands tend to irritate my skin; no reaction from the Whoop, even though I used it for days at a time.

the not so good Keep a close eye on that charger. The battery pack charges with a USB-C cable, but I’ve lost it (lost it a couple of times) and you won’t be able to charge your device until a replacement arrives. Also, if you have a 3.0, the accessories are not compatible with the 4.0.

That said, battery life is good, so you can usually go several days without needing to charge it.

The rest You don’t have to wear the Whoop as a wristband. You can strap it to your upper arm or invest in Whoop clothing, with sports bras, underwear, and shorts that have pods to fit the sensor. That’s useful if you already wear a smartwatch but want the strap to track your effort during your activities.

The verdict If you want insight into your athletic training, Whoop 4.0 is a great tool to help you reach your goals and hopefully prevent injury.

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