Why record training load with ithlete?

tuesday-tips: training load

It is strongly recommended athletes record training load in ithlete to add depth and meaning to their heart rate variability (HRV) data.

Recovering from a hard session?

Recording training load can often explain daily ithlete readings, for example an amber training recommendation after a hard session the previous day is expected– but without the reference to yesterday’s training session how can you be sure? The lowered HRV could be indicating oncoming illness or overtraining

Tapering & peaking

Visualising training load on the ithlete graph can help you better understand correlations between training load and recovery. Looking back at trends adds another dimension to HRV, showing how an individual responded to certain training patterns can help inform future plans. For example athletes who have been using ithlete for some time often reach out telling us how valuable it is in managing the taper ahead of big games or races!

Month HRV & training load

Correlations with recovery

The whole principle of monitoring Heart Rate Variability (HRV) as an athlete is that you can see the impact of training and recovery to assess your readiness to train/perform. It stands to reason that the longer lasting and more intensive a workout, the longer it will take your body to recover. Recording training load in ithlete will help you visualise the relationship between certain workouts, or training loads, and your HRV.

To read more about the relationship between workout intensity and recovery take a look at this post by Simon Wegerif summarising one of the key pieces of research in to this topic; Effects of intensity and duration of exercise on HRV recovery

Training load scale

Some of the biggest problems with monitoring training load are scale and consistency. Scales used range between sports, levels and even between individual athletes, so it’s hard to compare. Furthermore for those unfamiliar with measuring training load it can be a challenge to keep records consistent to allow for direct comparison.

Whilst there are a range of scales out there, ranging from self-rated on a 1-10 scale through to objectively tracking metrics during workouts many believe it’s important to consider two key factors, volume and intensity (below). You may also be interested in this post discussing our recommending scale TRIMP.

Training load = Volume & Intensity

Training volume usually refers to the duration of training, i.e. minutes per day/hour per week, or distance covered, i.e. 50 miles per week. The preferred method often depends on your sport – distance may be more appropriate for runners or cyclists whereas a football coach may prefer to record sessions per week.

Training intensity refers to how hard you are training. There are many methods that can be used to measure intensity, such as heart rate, oxygen consumption, weight lifted, power output, blood lactate concentration or the athlete’s perception of effort during training.

It’s important to remember that taking measures of volume and intensity independently may not truly reflect the training stress imposed on the athlete. Considering volume and intensity it is suggested that the total training stress be measured using ‘the training load calculation’:

Training load = training volume x training intensity.

This calculation helps athletes monitor not only the training output (speed, distance, etc.) but also how hard the body was working during that workout.


RPE ScaleIt is also worth mentioning RPE, or Rating of Perceived Exertion, one of the most widely used training load scales. It does just what it says on the tin, records perceived exertion by asking athletes to answer questions such as those in the picture opposite! Whilst RPE is relatively easy and cheap to implement key criticisms include that it is open to interpretation and entirely subjective.

How to enter training load in ithlete

  1. Training LoadNavigate to the ‘Edit’ screen (bottom right)
  2. Tap the entry/day for which you wish to enter training load
  3. A pop up box will appear for you to enter a value (see scale tips above!)
  4.  This value will now be shown in purple when you view the landscape graph screen

Over to you…

How do you monitor and record training load? If you’re already in the good habit of entering training load in to ithlete we’d love to hear about times it’s proven useful too!