Monitoring Training Load to Understand Fatigue in Athletes

Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. British Army Physical Training Instructor.  


The process of monitoring training load for athletes is essential to the effectiveness of the athlete's training program.

A number of tools are available to measure training load, including sRPE, TL models, and more. However, these models may not be appropriate for all sports or individuals.

Getting buy-in from athletes and staff

Monitoring training load has become a hot topic in sport science. While it has a lot to do with monitoring athletes' performance, it can also provide coaches with a great deal of information.

Monitoring is important to the success of your program. It can improve readiness and reduce the risk of injuries.

Identifying patterns in data will help you to develop better strategies for your athletes. But it can be time consuming.

Make sure to design a system that will be intuitive and allow for efficient reporting.

A variety of techniques are available to monitor internal loads. Some of these include physiological measures, psychological factors, and subjective feedback. For example, heart rate derivatives can be used to measure cardiovascular load.

However, the most effective method will depend on the specific sport and athlete. In addition, a variety of other factors need to be considered, such as the athlete's past injury history and age.

The best monitoring systems will provide athletes with simple feedback. They can include simple indicators that demonstrate a meaningful change in performance.

The most important aspect of a monitoring system is its ability to facilitate changes.

This includes an intuitive and sport-specific interface, as well as an enabling system for effective data analysis.

The most important thing to remember about monitoring is the need for clear goals and a solid rationale.

An athlete's commitment to a monitoring plan will go a long way toward ensuring its success.

Using an athlete management system will assist in monitoring athletes and reducing the need for time consuming and expensive manual monitoring. Similarly, a well-designed questionnaire can facilitate the collection of objective data.

Getting the TL-momentum may require a combination of techniques. One of the most common methods of quantifying internal loads is The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

Another approach is to obtain the number of pitches thrown. Alternatively, you can use GPS. Regardless of the approach, you should ensure the information collected is accurate and relevant.

The most important thing to remember is that monitoring is only one part of a comprehensive training program. Proper monitoring can raise your training ceiling and optimize readiness.

sRPE may reflect both the allostatic stress and the cognitive appraisal of the stress

Subjective rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) measures may be used to assess both the allostatic stress and the cognitive appraisal of stress in athletes.

This may lead to better measurement of allostatic load during mixed training sessions. However, it is important to note that sRPE should not be interpreted as physiological load.

Allostatic Load is a measure of chronic stress-related physiological processes. It includes markers such as total cholesterol, total thyroxine, and c-reactive protein. These biomarkers can be used to detect early signs of stress in the body.

In the context of professional sports training practices, physiological load is of paramount importance.

Using objective measures, such as sRPE, may provide a coach with an indication of athlete perception, but these methods are not perfect predictors of future injury.

Several studies have shown that subjective ratings of perceived exertion do not always accurately reflect the psychophysiological response of athletes.

sRPE, however, may be a more sensitive measure than other measures. Combined with other known measures, it may be a more accurate indicator of athlete perception.

Differential RPE, on the other hand, incorporates both internal and external physiological load. By monitoring physiological, mental, and mechanical load, it is a more precise measure of athlete fitness and compliance.

sRPE, however, can still be used to monitor training load (TL). When combined with other subjective methods, it can provide a more complete assessment of athlete responses to training.

The Bannister impulse response model has been developed to predict the rate of fatigue decay from sRPE.

Athletes will likely have different individual decay rates, but the goal should be to collect daily measurements. Daily measurements, in addition to providing more complete information, also allow the coach to record acute changes in HRV.

Other studies have found that there is an association between the indicators of socioeconomic status and allostatic load.

However, the unhealthy lifestyle variables, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, played a relatively minor role in explaining the association.

In contrast, a study using data from four recent waves of NHANES reported a positive association between allostatic load and race/ethnicity.

Further studies should look into the possible mediating factors and establish whether these variables are independent or dependent on each other.

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Limitations of using sRPE

When monitoring athletes' fatigue, it is important to consider both internal and external load.

This includes such measures as heart rate variability (HRV), GPS, and power output testing. In addition, athletes should be aware of the benefits of using subjective methods to quantify their fatigue.

One of the best ways to determine whether an athlete is fatigued is to ask them a simple question about their experience during a training session. Depending on the sport, this might be done once or twice a week.

The data can be used to help inform a team of players' performance, provide an easy way to quantify the effectiveness of a specific training session, and give coaches a better understanding of the individual athletes' training adherence.

Subjective measures of fatigue, such as the rate of perceived exertion (sRPE), are not always accurate.

They are a good starting point for athletes, coaches, and team sport scientists, but should not be relied upon exclusively.

While there are several subjective methods to quantify fatigue, sRPE is among the most commonly used.

For example, the sRPE is a standardized test that has been adapted to measure both intensity and duration of the sessions.

It is also a relatively inexpensive and non-invasive measurement of an athlete's fatigue, but it is not as granular as it sounds.

A comprehensive protocol should include objective and subjective measures of fatigue and performance.

A multivariate TL model that incorporates physiological and mental load can help to explain and improve the relationship between fatigue and training.

As with any other monitoring method, it is recommended that athletes be prescribed a particular training load in order to avoid dangerous "too little" or "too much" scenarios.

Likewise, a thorough recovery plan can be used to identify a number of factors that may affect a player's ability to recover from training.

The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is a simple and inexpensive measure of subjective intensity and physical effort, and can be used to evaluate a player's TL.

However, it does not have a direct correlation with injury risk. Some coaches prefer a more objective approach.

TL models may not be appropriate for all sports or individuals

Training load (TL) models attempt to quantify the relationship between training load and athlete performance.

While some of the existing models have been useful for quantifying training, other issues have been raised. 

One of the major concerns is the validity of the TL concept itself. However, TL models may also need to be adapted to suit different sports or individuals. As a result, the TL model should not be interpreted as a complete explanation for the training process.

Another issue is the fact that training load monitoring systems may not provide enough information to determine the risk of injury.

In addition, the TL monitoring process is largely a "chronic" decision-making tool. This is mainly due to the fact that the TL is based on the physiological response of the athlete and not on the athlete's motivation and effort.

Some of the most commonly used TL measures are the training stress score and the recovery time.

These measures are usually obtained from wearable devices or from training data management websites. Moreover, there are several other subjective TL metrics.

Among these, sessional ratings of perceived exertion (sRPE) have been reported as the most common TL measure in most sports.

While sRPE can serve as a valid TL metric, it is important to note that the sRPE does not necessarily reflect the total load experienced by the athlete.

Similarly, it is not entirely clear whether sRPE accurately reflects the stress imposed by mechanical load.

A more comprehensive approach to TL monitoring is to use a multivariate TL model that considers both internal and external TL factors.

Finally, there is evidence that the relationship between TL and athlete performance can be moderated by mental factors.

This has been suggested by some studies that examined laboratory-based endurance activities. It has been suggested that mental fatigue can affect TL-P and TL-I.

Other studies have shown that the TL-P and TL-I relationships may be altered by the degree to which injury occurs during training.


Training load monitoring is an important approach to monitoring athletes' fatigue. It helps coaches determine if training loads are causing injury.

By doing so, coaches can reduce the likelihood of injury and improve performance.

The most common internal and external monitoring methods are questionnaires, rating of perceived exertion, and GPS tracking.

Each method provides a slightly different view on training load.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of scientific publications relating to the monitoring of athletes' load.

This has resulted in a growing number of industries devoted to the development and use of various technologies.

There are two primary goals of monitoring: to ensure that an athlete's training load is not exceeding their physiological and psychological capacity and to monitor the effectiveness of the training program.

Regardless of the reason for monitoring, a comprehensive protocol must be developed to include both objective and subjective measures.

Currently, the most commonly used internal and external monitoring tools are the rating of perceived exertion and Edward's TRIMP, respectively.

These two techniques use heart rate measurements and session duration to evaluate an athlete's internal and external load.

A large amount of research has been conducted on male athletes, and the results have been largely gender specific.

Therefore, male-specific data may overestimate the amount of training load an athlete should be undergoing.

Although the most commonly used methods can provide insight into an athlete's performance and recovery, there is still much that is not known.

As such, future developments in the field of training load monitoring will be focused on determining which models are most appropriate.

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