Garmin is bringing heart rate variability (HRV) status to Fenix 6 watches with a new software update, which could have big implications for your training. HRV was introduced with the launch of the Garmin Forerunner 255 and 955 in June, and it's interesting to see the company rolling it out to previous-generation watches so quickly.
Your heart doesn't beat in a perfectly regular rhythm like a metronome; instead, the period between beats changes depending on various factors such as stress, environmental conditions, and overall fitness. HRV is the difference in the periods between heart beats.
The two new Forerunner models start by monitoring your HRV for a period to establish a baseline. They then track HRV overnight, and plot it against your baseline. This info is displayed on the watch when you wake up, and in the Garmin Connect app on your phone, with explanatory text to help you understand exactly what it means.
It's a handy tool, and one that we already knew was coming to some of this generation's best GPS watches like the Fenix 7 and Instinct 2. However, as DC Rainmaker reports, it now looks like it's coming to the much older Fenix 6 as well
How to get the update
The company has just released a public alpha build for testing, which includes HRV as well as improved race time predictions, a new acute training load graph, and the usual collection of bug fixes. You can find links to download the build on Garmin's forums, with versions for all watches in the Fenix 6 range, though bear in mind that there may still be bugs to be ironed out, and there's a chance not everything will work as expected.
Alternatively, you can wait a little longer for the finished release candidate to be rolled out to everyone through Garmin Connect in the near future. It's refreshing to see a watchmaker continuing to support a watch that was released three years ago with new features, when it could easily push owners to upgrade to the latest hardware instead.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.