Today we will discuss a subject dear to my heart and dearer to my muscles, joints and tendons.Loading.

I started this chat a few weeks ago on the Roar Physiotherapy Facebook page and on the Roar Physiotherapy YouTube Channel. Check that out here.

Something I have come to realise over the past three years is the dire importance of loading. Load can be considered any form of activity applied to the body. It could also be defined as what makes or breaks an athlete.

I want to go through some of the basics around load monitoring today in order to help all who are reading, stay injury free (that assumes someone other than me is reading this though – a dangerous thought indeed…).

So first we need to know a few things;

  1. The types of load
  2. How they affect us individually

The two types of load are internal and external load. Internal loads are measures such as our heart rate or rating of perceived exertion (also known as RPE; table of RPE below). Whereas, external load is the distance, weight, or intensity of activities.


The other critical element of load monitoring is the individualised effect of training. For example;

Asking both myself, a poor runner at the best of times, and an Olympic level runner to run a 400m in under one minute. This will have vastly different response (one being death and the other a casual run), despite being the exact same distance (external load).

Furthermore, humans are complex, emotional creatures. You’re not likely to train as well after your goldfish just died and you’re an emotional mess (why did you have to leave me Goldy?) as compared to when you’re fresh, rested and stress-free.


Now we are all on the same page, let’s get stuck into some numbers! Yay… Good thing it’s simple.

For internal load, the easiest method is to multiple the session RPE by the session duration. So, it will look something like;

Sessions RPE (5/10) x minutes (60)
5 x 60 = 300 arbitrary units (AU)

The units are purely arbitrary, meaning they’re just a way for us to measure and compare week to week.
For external load, it is a little more straightforward in that it’s just what you have done for your session.
Example; 10 x 70m sprints = 700m
Or, conversely if you have access to it, GPS is a reliable and accurate way to measure things like distance and heart which you can use immediately.

To illustrate this, here is an example for a training week of mine, working out my internal load.

In this short example, we can see the type of training, the minutes, RPE and internal load, respectively. In this way, we can see the weekly total and compare this week to week in order to accurately measure our workload and subsequently calculate our injury risk!

This write-up provides you with the basics of load monitoring. I hope it has begun to get you thinking about how you train.

The next part of this topic will examine how we can use Acute to Chronic work ratios to establish how to remain injury free and maximise performance!

Gabbett, T. J. (2016). The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?. British journal of sports medicine, 50(5), 273-280.