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

Crossfit: Is it time to go Rx?

Are you at that point in your CrossFit training where you’re asking if it’s time to go Rx in a workout? Read on to make sure it’s safe and no risk of injury.

Have peace in the process and joy in the progress

For a seasoned athlete this question is almost a full gone conclusion in deciding to do the prescribed workout. But even then on any given day factors can play their part in deciding if they need to adjust the workout. For the newer athletes and the others that have just been plugging away and making progress on the scaled options, it can be tempting to move into the prescribed workouts.

What does “going Rx” really mean?

  • You can safely move with consistency even when under fatigue.
  • You understand the purpose of the workout and can complete it within or around the desired goal.
  • Your coach is confident with you doing the workout.

Safety and Consistency

It’s the main concern for anyone attempting to workout at a prescribed level for the first time. Developing your competency of individual skills in the strength phase of training is vitally important. But also being able to match it with consistency when doing multiple reps. It’s important to be honest with your ability.

Moving either your body or heavy weight inefficiently and inconsistently over multiple reps only increases the risk of injury. If it means you continue building strength with the scaled options, so be it. Most workouts will repeat 2-3 times per year, giving you another opportunity for the next one. 

Understand the purpose

Every time you walk into the gym and see the new workout on the board consider that there is a purpose to each one. Workouts are not just slapped together. The coach has programmed each workout to compliment the type of strength work you’re doing and the stage that you’re in, within the program.

Each individual workout is designed to expose your body to different metabolic demands. A workout designed to be a short 5-8 minutes is expectant for you to be able to train continuously during this time at a weight you can keep going. If you’re going Rx and taking long breaks, this defeats the object of the session.

The other side is doing a workout that’s meant to be long in duration testing stamina. If you’re scaling too low, this could get you through the workout much faster. While this looks good on the whiteboard you won’t get the intended aerobic demand to your body.

If you’re unsure about where your expected to finish or what weight would be appropriate….

Speak to the Coach

Coach has been watching you week by week and is aware of your abilities. They also understand the stimulus of each workout. So if you’re still unsure of what level you’re at, ask the coach. They’ll guide you on appropriate weight, pacing, expectation of finish time and offer scaling options if you’re injured or still not ready for a particular movement.

If the coaches decision is lower than your expectation, leave the ego at the door. This is for your own safety and you’ll still end up getting an effective workout.

Gradually you’ll find there’ll be days you can Rx and others you won’t. Remember that you can’t force the process. Keep working to your ability and progress will come.

Hip Opener for Hinge Shapes

The hip hinge is an important movement in daily activities as well as in sports. Many people are unaware this movement exists and struggle with reaching their potential.

Many lifting injuries result from a lack of movement awareness and weakness of the posterior muscles. The hip hinge is a foundational movement for so many actions like deadlifts, squats, sprinting, jumping. Lacking an effective hip hinge is like racing a formula 1 car on flat tyres.

Developing a good hip hinge will improve the strength of the posterior chain. This includes muscles like the glutes, hamstrings and back extensors. The hinge movement is primarily coming from the hip. The goal is to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement, the hips start to bend with your butt moving backwards and minimal flexion in the knee. This will increase the tension on the hamstrings and glutes.

The majority of people find this pattern of movement unnatural, as it’s rarely practiced and in most cases, are quad dominant. This quad dominant pattern causes weight to be distributed anteriorly, which is fine with some activities, but most actions we need to be more engaged with our posterior chain.

hip hinge movements.jpg

 

Below are a series of stretches and strengthening exercises to help Improve your hip hinging abilities.

Weighted Hip Hinge

This exercises is a great way to warm up and encourage the hip back movement while fighting the resistance to maintain a neutral spine.

Banded Hip Distractions

These two movements are also great for warming up. Both encourage release of the hamstrings but also the band provides a traction force on the hip socket. This should allow the joint to move free’er and help you access more range in the joint.

Dynamic Hamstring stretch

This is a deeper stretch of the hamstrings. Having more flexibility here will help you hinge better at the hip which will off load the knees.

Jefferson Curl

This movement is a great way of developing movement segmentally and will help build strength when maintaining a stable spine. It’s important to note if you have a spinal injury to avoid this movement until you have gone through the appropriate phases of rehab.

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