DFA alpha 1 is a heart rate variability (HRV) metric that allows tracking of the aerobic and anaerobic threshold. We explain the breakthrough potential of this new metric and how you can track your DFA alpha 1 thresholds with the AI Endurance app, Garmin and Zwift.
TLDR: In short, DFA (detrended fluctuation analysis) alpha 1 measures the noise spectrum of your heart. As you ramp up the intensity of a workout and your heart has to work harder, the kind of noise - which the value of DFA alpha 1 represents - changes. Recent research has shown that DFA alpha 1 crosses below 0.75 at your aerobic threshold  and below 0.5 at your anaerobic threshold . For a more detailed explanation, check our in-depth blog post about DFA alpha 1.
DFA alpha 1 might prove to be a groundbreaking advancement to correctly set our training zones and track fitness. It only requires you to wear a heart rate monitor that tracks HRV (Polar H10 recommended). This way, you will be able to
Imagine being able to detect your fitness level during most activities that are hard enough to cross either threshold, without even thinking about fitness testing. This is what we're striving towards.
You can use real time logging of HRV data as well, see for example the HRV Logger by HRV4Training (Android and iOS) or FatMaxxer (Android). Your DFA alpha 1 data is available for each activity under "View Analysis" for your past activities in the AI Endurance Dashboard.
We have created dedicated ramp tests for cycling and running in the AI Endurance app. These make it as easy as possible for you to accurately test your DFA alpha 1 thresholds with Garmin and Zwift. Simply go to your AI Endurance Account page and either
In both cases, you need 'Garmin Connect - Import Data' to be connected to AI Endurance.
We also attempt to automatically detect your thresholds for any activity with HRV data if the ramping is sufficiently slow. For the aerobic threshold this means at least 4 min of continuously decreasing DFA alpha 1 past 0.75. For the anaerobic threshold, we need at least 6 min of continuously decreasing DFA alpha 1 past 0.5. If these criteria are met, we will display the power/pace and heart rate of your thresholds on your activity page as well. While this feature is in beta and more research on the topic is progressing, our AI will not take thresholds from DFA alpha 1 into account automatically just yet. However, you always have the option to manually set the detected values for your thresholds and the upper bound of your Endurance zone in your Account page (see below).
Once you have determined your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds with DFA alpha 1, you can set your training zones in the AI Endurance app as follows:
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While we are getting our app ready for the App Store you can install AI Endurance at full functionality on your iOS device with only a few clicks.