Bourdon et al 2017
Understanding your abilities with training is a constant adaption. In the gym or on the training field, knowing your boundaries of training intensity will allow you get the best results and minimise risk of injury.
In 2016 there was conference in Doha, Qatar bringing many of the worlds leading sports science experts to discuss monitoring athletes training loads. This is Journal draws together the key points from the conference.
The importance of monitoring your training load is to get the best out of training and make improvements. But also tracking this figure helps minimise risk of injury.
Training loads of each session is referred to as ‘Acute’ workload, this is compared to each week throughout the year, it’s referred to as your ‘Chronic’ workload. The objective is to make sure there is no big spike in acute workload compared to chronic workload. A spike in acute workload will lead to fatigue, poor performance and increased risk of injury. As displayed in the diagram a ratio increase increase acute:chronic of more than 1.5 results puts you in the red zone that indicates a greater chance of injury. Also worth pointing out, taking your training level below 0.8 of your chronic workload, surprisingly showed a higher risk of injury.
Staying within the workload “sweet spot” is your goal to minimising injuries. It takes time to build up training load and this should be done gradually.
One of the authors of this Journal, Tim Gabbett used the analogy of alcohol consumption to progressing your training load. Remember having your first beer and it goes straight to your head, you had zero tolerance to beer. Slowly as your exposed to more, you gain a tolerance to beer. We all know what happens if you go over your alcohol tolerance. Same applies with training.
NB. This is just an analogy, this is not a recommendation to build your alcohol tolerance. Just saying!!
Crossfit is like a drinks cabinet
We’ve got quite the selection…
Beer/wine: air squats, rowing, burpee, assault bike, running, lunges
Cocktails: Double unders, box jumps, weighted front/back squat, dead lift
Whiskey/Vodka: Chest to bar pull ups, bar/ring muscle up, clean, snatch, hand stand push up
Before progressing through to the harder movements, we need to be skilled and have tolerance with the basics.
Measuring Training Load
To monitor your overall effort in your workout there is a simple method of combining:
Internal Load: These are the biological/psychological factors. This could be heart rate monitors, blood lactate levels or rate of perceived exertion.
External Load: Power output, speed and acceleration derived from GPS and accelerometer devices.
Tracking your training load is a great way of assessing your own capacity to handle the session. Over time this can provide information on training load adaptation.
Internal Road x External Road = Training Load
In CrossFit there’s too many variables to monitor with different workouts each day. Use your strength component to measure your external load, this will be a more consistent figure. Whether it’s a dead lift, back squat or strict press. Record internal load a rate of perceived exertion, using a visual analogue score, see below.
The acute:chronic workloads apply to all levels of athlete, not just beginners and people returning from injury. Even at the top level our training intensity needs to be tailored to our own individual needs.
Below is a summary of the journal.
Bourdon et al. (2017) Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement Int J Sports Physiol Perform Performance