Following on from our External Loading post, I’d like to introduce the concept of Internal Loading. Internal Loading describes a far more subjective means of monitoring your workload and the affects it is having on you and literally takes seconds to do. But don’t let the small time footprint fool you, it can be a very powerful way of monitoring your performance and informing you as to when it is a good time to push a little harder, or to back off and recover.
Load management is a term used in sport when we are trying to quantify and adapt an athletes physical stress, usually in the form of matches, training or gym sessions, to achieve optimal adaptation and reduce the risk of injury and/or illness. As a concept it is not applied to performers, as they tend to measure their tiredness in a much more subjective manner, along the lines of how they feel. There is certainly some merit in both, but what is a nice middle ground that takes advantage of both the subjective (internal loading) and objective (external loading) ways to monitor load or fatigue, is to combine them.
Why would you bother monitoring Internal load?
Some kind of IL monitoring is done without thinking about it, those days where you feel great and go for it and sometimes, when we’re not feeling great, we back off and maybe avoid going to the gym or training for a couple of days.This system is aimed at quantifying that and giving you a tool to measure how much work you’re doing and therefore how much physical stress you’re being put under. This kind of load monitoring is sensitive to poor sleep, high stress times, suboptimal fuelling and hydration as well as potential incoming illness.Given it takes so little time to apply, it can be a no brainer to add.
How can you measure your Internal Load?
Seeing as this is primarily a subjective measure, we are going to utilise the Rate of Perceived Exertion method which has been slightly bastardised from its original format. This will involve a measure 1 to 10 where you subjectively score how hard your session was, we use defined levels of exertion as seen in figure 1. Then you simply take that number, and multiply it by the length of your session eg RPE 8 x 60 minutes = 480. This 480 doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you and the unit used is an Arbitrary Unit or AU. If you do this foreach session of any kind, then you can get a weekly score. The weekly score is the important measure, shown in figure 2.
I’d argue that this is even more simple measure and monitor, when compared to external loading. It’s strength lies in that it can give your entire working/training week some type of quantification, with different types of physical exertion/stress being covered. This can give a nice overview of how you are dealing with the physical stress you undertake, as spikes in RPE or session durations will lead to jumps in AU scores and potentially your weeks score. This may put into context why you feel particular tired at a given time, and can adapt your training accordingly to prioritise recovery until you feel ready to go again.
Thanks for reading