Reviews

Polar Leg Recovery Test Review – GadFit Singapore

October 31, 2020

Polar’s Leg Recovery test assesses “the recovery of the neuromuscular system, as opposed to Cardio recovery status which assesses the recovery of the cardiovascular system.” The aged Polar V800 had a similar jump test that had both squat jump and counter-movement jump test options – a stride sensor was required. The Polar leg recovery test on the Vantage V2 requires no further accessories.

You have to complete the leg recovery test 2 times over a span of 28 days for the watch to first build a baseline. Thereafter the watch will assess future leg recovery tests and provide scores based on the two parameters which I lifted from Polar’s white paper.

  • If your baseline is 28 cm or higher: When your test result is 7% or more less than your baseline. Leg recovery status is not recovered.
  • If your baseline under 28 cm: When your test result is 2 centimeters or more less than your baseline. Leg recovery status is recovered.

I’d strongly recommend you read the white paper because Polar has explicitly listed the limitations of the leg recovery test results. 

You will also need to bear in mind that:

  • The mean of the 3 jumps is used if the difference between highest and lowest jump does not exceed 10cm.
  • The median of the 3 jumps is used if the difference between highest and lowest exceeds 10cm.

When you start the leg recovery test, the watch will notify you when to jump, through audio beeps and vibrations. You are required to complete 3 counter movement vertical jumps and your hands must not leave your hips at any time throughout the jump.

polar leg recovery instructions

Upon completion, the watch will show your leg recovery status which also takes into account the recovery state of your cardio system as provided by Recovery Pro or Nightly Recharge feature. Polar has cleverly weaved their physiological measurements tools to value-add to the leg recovery test. These are the 3 possible test outcomes.

polar leg recovery test 3 outcomes

The leg recovery test is simple and convenient to execute. There is definitely value in daily assessment of leg recovery in order to fine-tune your workouts.

polar leg recovery test results

Having completed the test no less than 6 times over 2 weeks, I was appalled at the height of my jumps which has been consistently low. My baseline is 27cm…

I’m curious how accurate Polar’s leg recovery test readings are given that since my baseline is under 28cm, we’re looking at a 2cm trigger. Polar’s white paper results, based on 20 participants, showed strong correlation (r=0.85) between jump heights done on jump mats and IMU (inertial measurement unit) which is a small motion sensor found inside smartwatches – which in this case is the Polar Vantage V2.

So, I took out a measuring tape and gave this leg recovery test a comparison and filmed it. The measuring tape was placed along side my body.

The screengrabs when I was at at the start and apex of my test jumps have been compiled below along with the readings as recorded by the Polar Vantage V2 watch.

I analysed my video frame by frame and clearly saw that I averaged more than 40cm for all three countermovement squat jumps. However, the Polar Vantage V2 recorded numbers which are only about 50% of the actual jump height in my case.

Could it be my jump form? Maybe, but I like to think I had that sorted out by looking at Polar’s Leg Recovery Test videos and comparing it versus my own video. It looks right. Then perhaps it could just be this particular watch unit I have. I have already filmed two sessions of leg recovery tests and the outcomes are similar – my vertical height is way higher than what the watch recorded.

I referred my findings to Polar through Polar Singapore and a meaningful dialogue ensued, discussing accuracy of test methods and suggestions to improve my test protocol.

While my manner of test involved cobbering a measuring tape, shorts with a mark, and a phone camera, I was assured by Polar that it is more than that, involving time-motion-analysis, reference markers on tight sports wear, and filtering out of noise. What counts is that ” the device is giving results comparable to each other, ie results being consistent. “

Furthermore, Polar has also stated that ” according to our investigation, probability of having 50% error in Leg recovery test is less than 1%. “

So, there you have it. Two sides of the same coin.

As to whether this test is accurate to detect leg recovery, I can’t say with surety. It felt like I was the one trying to match the result to what my previous training sessions. So if the watch says I’m unrecovered, I’ll attribute it to a run I did a day before. But if it shows that I have recovered, I’ll have to deduce that the training the day before wasn’t hard enough to affect the lower limbs even though my muscles are sore and it felt like a hard session.

Here’s an example that happened. The Polar Vantage V2 had me in unrecovered state, based on jump recovery test, after a day at work, before I even went for my evening runs, which I found strange. Yet the same watch informed me that I have recovered even though I had muscle soreness from a running performance test on a treadmill, followed by full body strength training, and a 10.5km jog – all within 24 hours.

Update 16th Nov: I have since stopped referring to the leg recovery test because of three main reasons. Juggling a full time job with no competition preparation in sight, I exercise when I can after work (about 5 times a week) so I don’t do the kind of workout that requires my body to be in tip top condition. Secondly, due to the limited free time I have, when it’s time to go run outdoors, hills intervals, or do strength work, I don’t let recovery readings mess up the weekly schedule. Lastly, I’m unsure if my unrecovered status means I’m 50% recovered? 75%? 90%?

Nice feature nevertheless. I’m sure some individuals out there may find leg recovery test useful.

2 Comments

  • Reply Fredrik October 31, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you for the post. Looking forward to a full review on how accurate you think the feedback is vs your actual performance.

    • Reply Michael S November 2, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      I’m still trying to fully understand the leg recovery test feature. Based on the white paper, Polar’s sample include 20 people recruited in-house and the average jump height was slightly below 31.8cm. Are they athletes? Individuals who train 3-5 times a week? Sedentary? Male or female? I do have a lot of questions. Let me give this leg recovery two more weeks of exploring.

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