Training – Finding the Sweet Spot

Understanding your training load and tracking your acute:chronic ratio is a great tool of avoiding injury but seeing regular improvements when training.

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.

Acute-Chronic Workload Ratio.jpg
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.

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.

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Bourdon et al. (2017) Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement Int J Sports Physiol Perform Performance

Author: Graeme Lawson

With more than 13 years working both in the UK and New Zealand, Graeme offers a vast amount of experience and knowledge when treating musculoskeletal conditions. Being part of various clubs on the grass roots level to international with the England Volleyball team he has developed a broad skill set. His patient’s see exceptional results from a progressive blend of hands on manual therapy, education and exercise prescription. Catering from the home and work related injuries to athletes from novice to elite levels. Graeme’s outlook is the same with all who visit, that prevention is better than the cure. While providing a variety of hands-on treatments, he knows how important it is to offer education, preventative advice and tailored exercises to continue long after you have been discharged, helping avoid injuries in the future. For pastimes he has played basketball over the last couple of decades at different national levels. Graeme has also been doing CrossFit for 6 years. Having both the knowledge and ability of these technical movements provides athletes confidence with the advice they receive.

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