• Subjective Indicators in Monitoring pt 3

      by Mladen Jovanovic

      Immediate training effects
      The immediate training effects arise as a result of summation of acute training effects from several exercises [10]. Or in other words, immediate training effects represent changes in body state resulting from a single workout and/or a training day [10].
      Evaluation of immediate training effects is an essential part of athletes’ preparation [10]. According to Vladimir Issurin [10, 11, 12], assessment of immediate training effects is based on the following indicators:

      Although there are certain advances in the usage of certain monitoring tools and technology, like heart rate, heart rate variability, Omega Wave, performance assessment (vertical jump, grip strength, reaction time, tapping frequency) and biochemical assessment (blood urea, CPK, testosterone, cortisol, epinephrine, etc), in evaluation of immediate training effects on various physiological sub-systems (neuromuscular and CNS, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, etc), we are going to expand more on the subjective responses. For further information, curious reader is directed to the work of Vladimir Issurin [10, 11, 12].
      Examination of athletes’ subjective responses is the cheapest, most readily available and most informative way to characterize immediate training effects [10]. The most widely used subjective estimates usually pertain to sleeping, appetite, general activity, and willingness to train [10]. Muscle soreness, self estimation of techno-tactical work, etc, can provide relevant indication of training effect [10].
      Similar to subjective indicators of acute training effects, subjective indicators of immediate training effects can be also used for two main purposes: (1) avoiding overtraining and injuries and (2) programming and adjusting/correcting the training workload.
      As already stated, the summary of decades long and millions of dollars worth research on overtraining can be summated by the simple question „How are you feeling today?“, since psychological indicators are the first one to be affected, before performance drop or even before changes happen in the physiological variables. Since no single physiological parameter predicts the subjective indicators of immediate training effect, similar to RPE and subjective indicators of acute training effects, this indicates that the subjective response to immediate training effects are complex system phenomena, which basically means they integrates all the physiological sub-systems. In more practical terms, this means really good usability of subjective indicators of immediate training effect since they provides the big picture of the athletes’ state, but on the other hand, they demands further examination (by using performance and/or biochemical assessment) to clarify which physiological systems are affected by immediate training effects and what is the real cause.
      The keys to usability of the subjective monitoring of immediate training effects are simplicity and quickness. Asking one or two simple, short and quick questions before a workout or in a morning can yield overall state of the athletes’ readiness. In his books, Vladimir Issurin [11, 12] utilized the following two indicators: (1) willingness to train, and (2) muscle soreness level. Scale from 0 to 10, as in session-RPE, can be used to assess these two indicators. Sometimes, following through with more questions (sleep duration, quality of sleep, appetite, location of soreness, etc) can yield more precise data, which can be all tracked if needed.
      Coach can utilize this kind of data to adjust and correct the training workloads and allow flexible programming [10], based on athletes reaction. If we depict hypothetical results of evaluation of willingness to train and muscle soreness to already depicted daily workloads graph, we may get something like this:

      Based on such data, coach can modify/adapt the training program and put the key workouts of a microcylce where the athlete is the most willing to train and with minimal soreness levels.
      It is normal to expect different soreness levels based on the training type along with total workload. For example, eccentric exercises are shown to induce muscle soreness, thus higher volume of this kind of exercise can yield greater score in muscle soreness indicators. Further, different types of microcycles (restoration, adjustment, loading, impact, precompetitive, competitive), and mesocycles (or training block) [11, 12, 18] are expected to induce higher levels of muscle soreness or lower levels in willingness to train indicators due different level of workload and/or different level of training emphasis. There is nothing wrong or good to it; the key is to utilize the feedback provided by subjective indicators of immediate training effect to adjust and correct training planning and/or programming based on the what wants to be achieved.
      It could be further expanded that on different levels of Peaking Index [4], mentioned earlier in this article, different levels of subjective indicators of acute and immediate training effects could be expected. In the following table there is a gross oversimplification of the average levels of preparedness, fatigue, weekly training workloads, willingness to train and muscle soreness during different peaking indexes over the training season that should provide a general idea what to expect:

      * Willingness to train is low and the muscle soreness is high during the Peaking Index 5 because of the fact that competition season is over and athletes need rest and recovery.

      Based on the research provided, subjective indicators of acute and immediate training effect provide excellent and simple feedback data that coaches can use to adjust training workloads to achieve pre-defined goals and to avoid overtraining, injury, underperformance and illness. More data is needed to provide practical utilization of subjective indicators in planning, programming and adjusting training. Anyway, subjective indicators provide very fruitful area of both the research and practical application.

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      Recommended readings
      1. McDonald, L. Overtraining, Overreaching and all the Rest. BodyRecomposition.com. 2010.

      Special thanks to Steven Bubel, Edric Arthur Smith and Ryan Penrod for providing me the necessary research papers and to Carl Valle, Michael Tuchscherer, Mick McDermott, Lyle McDonald and Joel Jamieson for providing me support and training ideas. This article is dedicated to you. Thank you!

      About the author
      Mladen Jovanović is graduated strength and conditioning coach from Belgrade, Serbia, currently residing in Boston, MA. Mladen was involved in strength and conditioning training of professional athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and tennis, and he is currently looking to continue his coaching career in the United States. Mladen collaborates with teams looking to leverage research and technology for a winning edge. He is available for consulting on 617 233 5075 or email: coach.mladen.jovanovic@gmail.com