A Poor Man’s Approach to Measuring Internal and External Load

To properly manage fatigue, a performance coach should consistently measure internal and external load. To measure such variables, technologies like GPS (external) and Polar (internal) need to be used. However, for most High Schools and small Colleges, it is out of the budget to acquire such technology. Thankfully, a coach can use a few simple and inexpensive methods to measure internal and external load.

1.Heart Rate Reserve or HRR (internal)

If you have a smart phone, you can easily calculate HRR. Simply download a HR monitor app (most are free) and collect a pre-session HR. To determine an exact HRR, in session HRmax needs to be determined as well. From there, simply take HRresting and subtract from the highest in session HRmax (HRmax-HRresting). Overtime, the goal is to create a greater difference between HRmax and HRresting. This not only shows adaptation is being made, but also allows coaches to keep a pulse on training volume.

2. Tonnage and target times (external)

Each coach should have a system in place to properly track tonnage over the course of a training block. This will determine the amount of stress placed upon an athlete in the weight room. As far as on field conditioning work is concerned, the same rules of tonnage apply. However, in this case, “weight” is changed to “target time”. For example, if tempo runs are being implemented, a faster target time means a higher intensity. This will reflect how much stress is being placed on the athlete during a conditioning session.

For open environment game play, try as you might, but it is nearly impossible to use the “poor mans” approach to track internal and external load. However, one option for external load is to have a coach track high velocity movement with pen and paper. This proves to be very difficult and average in reliability, but for the historically injured team, it’s better than nothing!