Monitoring Training To Get Results – Part 1


Since it’s a new year and athletes and coaches appears to have renewed vigour and ambitions in the gym, I thought the first few posts should relate to programming. More specifically, I want to provide some scope to help plan and then monitor your athletes training to see if your ambitious plans can actually come into fruition!

To achieve this we are going to be looking at some of the more common methods and calculations you can use to help both planning and monitoring of volume and intensity in the weight room without requiring expensive kit.

The use of these methods can be quite enlightening if you have never used them before, as well as providing a means to quantify (albeit roughly) where you players are at without having to repeat RM tests exhaustively throughout the year. Throughout each post we will discuss the quantification method, inherent problems and potential uses of the calculations. One theme which will relate to all of the posts is that these quantification methods are best suited to compound strength exercises (such as deadlifts, bench press etc) and so if your training relates to these methods you will most likely get the best use of the information.

It is often useful to estimate the workload encountered in a resistance session. Two common methods are:
1: Volume load (Kg) = No. of sets x no. or reps x %1RM
2: Volume load (kg) = No. of sets x no of reps x weight lifted
Both estimates produce different values and have inherent accuracy problems as they do not take into account displacement, force/velocity characteristics of each lift in addition to body mass. They can however still be useful.

Equation 1 (Volume load (Kg) = No. of sets x no. or reps x %1RM) is most useful in the planning stage as it enables you to identify planned changes in volume load over time and therefore look at sequencing your adaptation in line with your overall training goals for that particular periodised phase. This has value for the S&C but even more value when discussed in interdisciplinary meetings with the other performance team members; coach, physio etc where you often find your ideal plan needs amending to co-exist in pursuit of overall performance enhancement.

Equation 2 (Volume load (kg) = No. of sets x no of reps x weight lifted) is more useful in the monitoring stage to collect information on what was actually lifted in each session.

Having planned (equation 1) and monitored training (equation 2), the resultant shape of the two volume load values will inform you how close to planned your actual training has been. When used in conjunction with other coaches (technical) they can form a good way to further develop interdisciplinary planning and training to continually improve team performance, as well as providing you as the S&C a way of reviewing where your players are at with regards to strength development and the subsequent next phase of training.

Before trying out these quantifications in your own training programmes, check out post two and three of this series which will cover the effect of body mass on the volume load as well as a couple of ways to quantify intensity.

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