Want to know how to optimise your training in 2023 to get all the benefits you desire whilst also reducing your risk of injury, overtraining and illness?
Wanting to further challenge yourself physically this new year but not sure how to go about it?
Then look no further.
As we bring in the new year, resolutions of new hobbies, activities, goals and challenges are in full swing. Today’s blog is going to give you all you need to know regarding managing your training to make your new year resolutions as successful as possible. We will break down the difference between external vs internal training loads, how to measure your training, ideal week to week progressions and acute vs chronic workloads. Let’s get into it!
Internal vs External
Have you ever experienced pain or symptoms that have seemingly come out of nowhere? For presentations like this poor load management is often a key contributor, meaning the external load placed on a tissue exceeds the tissue’s capacity to handle this load. This typically results in pain or irritation.
Before we dive in let’s make sure we have the basics covered. A term you will hear frequently in this blog is training load, this simply means the amount of training stimulus you’re exposing your tissues to on a regular basis and can be broken down into two variables, external load and internal load.
External load = distance run/swum, weight lifted, repetitions and sets completed, number of passes etc.
Internal load = heart rate, lactate levels, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) etc.
Measuring Training Loads
An individual’s training load can be easily measured and quantified by multiplying a sessional rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (session intensity) and the session duration.
- Session time (minutes) x intensity (RPE)
RPE is simply how hard you believe the exercise to be for you on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very light and 10 being maximum effort. The rating scale of the RPE is nicely broken down in the table below.
As an example, if you completed a 45-minute training session and rated it as a 5/10 on the RPE scale, your training load for that session would be 225 units (45 x 5 = 225). Therefore, if you completed 5 sessions like this throughout the week, your cumulative weekly training load would be 1,125 units (225 x 5). Understanding how to measure our sessional and weekly workloads allows us to easily manage our training schedule according to what require, whether that is a light week for recovery or a harder week for progression.
Week to Week Changes
In order to elicit adaptations and ultimately improve in our training, making sure we are progressing week to week is key. However, the way in which we do so is very important.
Research done in the AFL has shown that when week to week loads remain relatively consistent, ie. 5 – 10% more than the previous week, players had a less than 10% risk of a noncontact soft tissue injury (eg. calf strain). Alternatively, when loads increased by 15% or more than the previous week, player’s injury risk elevated to between 21 – 49%. Interestingly, during the time period of the study approximately 40% of total injuries in the AFL were associated with rapid increases in load (>10%) compared to the previous week. The percentage change in workload per week and the concurrent injury risk is shown in the graph below.
The graph below clearly shows the changes in training load per week and the concurrent risk of a noncontact soft tissue injury. As you can see, once workloads increase beyond 10% from the previous week, injury probability spikes up to 20% and continues to increase with further training progressions all the way to 49%.
With an understanding of how to quickly measure our training load and how we should be progressing week to week, we can now go forth in our training keeping our injury risk low and still reaping all the wonderful benefits exercise has to offer!
While starting new physical activities and chasing after greater goals is very exciting and something to be encouraged, making sure we do so correctly is very important. Below are some of the key takeaways from today’s blog post to help you stay injury free and able to achieve all your training goals in 2023!
- Don’t increase training loads greater than 10% from week to week
- What can be measured can be managed —> use session duration x RPE to quickly and easily measure your training loads
- High workloads are not the problem, how you get there is.