Many athletes, coaches, and support staff are taking an increasingly scientific approach to both designing and monitoring training programs. Appropriate load monitoring can aid in determining whether an athlete is adapting to a training program and in minimizing the risk of developing non-functional overreaching, illness, and/or injury. In order to gain an understanding of the training load and its effect on the athlete, a number of potential markers are available for use. However, very few of these markers have strong scientific evidence supporting their use, and there is yet to be a single, definitive marker described in the literature. Research has investigated a number of external load quantifying and monitoring tools, such as power output measuring devices, time-motion analysis, as well as internal load unit measures, including perception of effort, heart rate, blood lactate, and training impulse. Dissociation between external and internal load units may reveal the state of fatigue of an athlete. Other monitoring tools used by high-performance programs include heart rate recovery, neuromuscular function, biochemical/hormonal/immunological assessments, questionnaires and diaries, psychomotor speed, and sleep quality and quantity. The monitoring approach taken with athletes may depend on whether the athlete is engaging in individual or team sport activity; however, the importance of individualization of load monitoring cannot be over emphasized. Detecting meaningful changes with scientific and statistical approaches can provide confidence and certainty when implementing change. Appropriate monitoring of training load can provide important information to athletes and coaches; however, monitoring systems should be intuitive, provide efficient data analysis and interpretation, and enable efficient reporting of simple, yet scientifically valid, feedback.
Sports Med. 44(Suppl 2):139-147.