Monitoring Training Intensity – Part 3

To accompany the volume load equations in the previous 2 posts, this post will look at 2 methods commonly used to provide some idea of the intensity that your athletes are experiencing. I chose my words carefully in this last sentence…”some idea”. As per the previous equations, these like those suffer from accuracy problems (training environment created, force and displacement characteristics of each lift) but still allow the strength coach to gain an appreciation of the training induced stress on each player and team.

Two intensity calculations that relate to the volume load equations used in post one and two are:
Equation 5: Training Intensity = Volume load (use equation 1 or 2 in post 1) / Reps
Equation 6: Intensity index = volume index (use equation 3 or 4 in post 2) / Reps

The difference between the equations is a function of whether you want to take fluctuations in body weight into account as well as accounting for players of different sizes in the same group (equation 6 coupled with equation 4). In practice, either method can be useful to see how much intensity in session is actually achieved. You can choose to look at the session as a whole or divide your workouts into more meaningful groups such as warm up sets, target sets and overall training intensity (more accurate depiction). Also of consideration would be grouping together similar type exercises i.e. compound exercises and more isolated exercises so one does not affect the others values.

In putting these equations into practice it is well worth spending some time on two different excel spreadsheets. One for predicting the cycle of training induced volume and intensities you are looking to coach your athletes and another geared towards monitoring the actual loads and intensity achieved in session. Although it takes some time to get a format you are comfortable with it is well worth the investment.

Some potential additional benefits:
In isolation these methods provide an insight into the predicted and actual training induced stress your athletes are likely to experience. In reality, if done as part of your S&C practice, they lend themselves to a host of additional benefits.

Coach discussions – the rough quantification allows for a more meaningful discussion and allocation of importance between sports specific and strength and conditioning sessions and in doing so fosters a better relationship between who is responsible for what over the next block of training or season. Continuing from this theme is also the idea that when S&C is prioritised you can also demonstrate your worth and show results!

Return to play – athletes who get injured during the course of the season have benchmarks of their own data to assist in decision making with regards to selection and the return to full fitness.

Position specific norms – athletes attempting to get selected have benchmarks of what is expected, thus aiding motivation.

Over the last series of posts we wanted to try and provide some cost effective ways to begin planning and monitoring of your athletes. All of the equations we have highlighted have flaws but also benefits. Those coaches in the field who have been coaching for some time will know that S&C is not an exact science, so interpretation is crucial.

With all this in mind let’s get things moving, turn on the computer, fire up excel and start formatting your new quantifiable S&C programmes!