- Maintaining an adequate amount of training during the offseason can help better prepare athletes for more intensive training before the competition
- Training load should be prescribed based on an athlete’s current condition and the demands of their sport
What is training load?
Training load refers to the total amount of strain put on your body and is affected by both the intensity and the duration of training you undergo. It is an important concept employed when preparing athletes for the demands of competition and is useful for creating a training regime that will prepare an athlete for competition without leading to injury.
3 critical concepts for load progression
When developing rehabilitation or performance programs, 3 concepts are critical: the “floor,” the “ceiling,” and time. The floor represents the athlete’s current capacity, whereas the ceiling represents the capacity needed to perform the specific activities of the sport. A challenge in most sporting environments is the time required to progress from the floor to the ceiling. If athletes’ training loads are progressed too rapidly, they will be at increased risk of injury and underperformance.
Why is training load important?
For an athlete’s performance to improve, training load must be greater than the athlete’s current load capacity. This way, the more you train, the greater load you would eventually be able to tolerate. Without sufficient training, athletes will be unprepared for the exertion of competitions and may risk underperforming or even injury. Thus, training load should be sufficient to prepare athletes for the demands of competition.
How much is too much?
However, if too much training load is applied at once, which is often the case when an athlete tries to reach the necessary level of performance for a competition in a short span of time, there is a much higher risk of injury and the training itself may also prove to be ineffective in the long run. Thus, it is important to manage the increases in your training load such that you can still improve without risking injury.
What should you expect in your rehabilitation programme?
For a start, it is good practice to try and keep up with some of your training while in the offseason or even when recovering from an injury – this is so that your maximum load capacity will not decrease during these periods. In fact, this offseason training can even increase your base load capacity. Meaning, it will take less time to reach the level of performance needed to play your sport.
It is also important to identify the most demanding parts of your sport and train yourself to prepare for those. It is often the case that the most intense moments that put the greatest strain on your body. Thus, it is important to prepare yourself for not just the various degree of strain that is expected for your sport, but also those high intensity moments that are most likely to cause injury.
How can Physiotherapy help in your training load?
So how should you manage your training load? Well, this is where you can consult a trained professional such as a Physiotherapist, who can identify the specific demands of your sport in terms of exertion. They can also help to assess your condition in order to come up with a training plan best suited to your needs and the needs of your sport. This includes specific exercises that help train parts of your body most in need of strengthening, or exercises that best prepare you for the most high-intensity parts of your sport.
Who should take caution when reading this?
For very young or older athletes, and those with a history of injuries such as sprains and fractures, special care should be taken when increasing training load as these athletes are at greater risk of injury when training load is increased quickly. The same also goes for those who may be less fit or have not exercised in a long time. For those who meet these conditions, it is important for a professional to assess your individual needs and prescribe training that is safe for you and will not cause reinjury.
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Gabbett TJ. How Much? How Fast? How Soon? Three Simple Concepts for Progressing Training Loads to Minimise Injury Risk and Enhance Performance. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50(10):570-573. Epub 15 Nov 2019. doi:10.2519/jospt.2020.9256.