A multi-dimensional approach to training load and performance monitoring

Your weekly research review

Cody Roberts

By Cody Roberts
May 4th, 2020 | 3 min read

Contents of Research Review

  1. Background & Objective
  2. What They Did
  3. What They Found
  4. Practical Takeaways
  5. Reviewer’s Comments
  6. About the Reviewer

Background & Objective

Collecting and tracking meaningful information regarding an individual’s response to training is important when making actionable decisions when considering load prescription.

In this study, the associations between accumulated external load variables and changes in body composition, isokinetic strength, and aerobic capacity over a 10-week pre-season and in-season period were analysed

What They Did

Before and after a 10-week early competition season period, the body composition (via bioelectrical impedance), VO2max (via an incremental treadmill test), and isokinetic strength of quadriceps (QUADS) and hamstrings (HAMS) (via Biodex isokinetic dynamometer) of twenty-three professional soccer players was collected.

Each player wore geolocation (GPS) trackers which were used to collect data on training duration, total distance covered, sprinting distance above 20 km.h-1 , and acceleration load accumulated from the accelerometer within the GPS device across 47 training sessions and 12 matches.

This training load data was compared with the data concerning body composition and fitness variables.

What They Found

The primary findings of this study include:

  • Possible increases in fat mass (FM) with decreases in lean mass (LM).
  • Changes in FM and LM were negatively associated with and strongly correlated with accumulated sprint distance.
  • Linkage between activity and cardiovascular adaptation, as VO2max showed a large increase over the 10- week period, correlating highest with the acceleration load.
  • Improvements in isokinetic strength variables were observed, primarily in peak torque flexion for HAMS (PTLP, PTRP) and QUADS/HAMS ratios for right and left legs.
  • Increases in strength showed correlation between accumulated total distance, sprinting distance, and acceleration sums.
  • Practical Takeaways

    Appropriately dosing and monitoring training loads can have an advantageous impact on performance in the latter part of a competitive season. The results highlight the importance of quality over quantity, suggesting higher intensity actions as opposed to longer duration sessions being the necessary stimulus to beneficial adaptation.

    Regarding the dose of load and response of the individual, it is important to ensure that exposure to intensive training (sprinting above 20km.h-1 and sum of acceleration) and management of load over time allows for an increase in mechanical capacity. Identifying variables that can be utilised for measuring and monitoring for readiness during the season is beneficial to improving the confidence in preparation and loads experienced by athletes.

    Reviewer’s Comments

    “This study focused on measuring external loads experienced during practice and competition. Although, this is one of many variables that impact player readiness and preparedness, an internal measure would be valuable to provide deeper insight to the dose -response relationship. In addition to this, there was limited auxiliary training that occurred off the pitch.

    However, it appears that loads were appropriately progressed through the preseason training in preparation for competition. The loads experienced in pre-season were generally greater than what was experienced in-season. Lack of injury and improved performance supports the management of load and recovery. The surprising body composition results where that FM increased and LM decreased, yet performance improved. This possibly showcases the limited accuracy of bioelectrical impedance as a measurement device. Regardless, body composition is not a measure of performance and even though the prediction can be associated with performance improvements, measuring multiple variables can provide a clearer picture regarding the response to training and readiness to perform.”

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    The full study can be read here.

    Cody Roberts

    Cody Roberts

    Cody has been a strength and conditioning coach within NCAA Division I sports since 2008. He currently works within Olympic sports at the University of Iowa. He holds a Masters degree in Exercise Science from the University of Kansas (‘10). A former collegiate discus and hammer thrower (University of Kansas ‘07), Cody has also served as an adjunct professor within the Health & Human Physiology department at Iowa, as well a written over 200 research reviews for the Performance Digest since joining the Science for Sport team in 2019. Cody is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Strength & Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) through the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, and a USAW Certified Sport Performance Coach from USA Weightlifting. The entire psychophysiological process of coaching and athletic development is what drives Cody to learn and engage others daily to best serve and develop the athletes he works with. In his role, he has numerous resources at his disposal (e.g. GPS, force plates, tensiomyography, and other testing/monitoring tools). His experience and application of these tools, implementing consistent and sustainable monitoring strategies, make him an excellent resource for all things technology and monitoring. Aiming to maximise the quest for optimal performance through a holistic and scientific approach.

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