Training, fatigue and susceptibility to injury.

The theory of training, monitoring and the ‘optimum’ training amount or dose gets thrown around a lot at most gyms or conversations over a coffee or light beer. But do we as sports scientists know exactly what is the correct amount before injury occurs and how.

I have spent countless hours researching and reading over the years, always trying to keep up to date with the most relevant and valid information. Back in (1956) Hans Selye defined stress as a disturbance from ‘normal’, a normal biological system stimulates adaptive responses to restore homeostasis beyond recovery until super-compensation is attained.


The first stage is the ‘alarm stage’ where the physiological state is diminished (fatigue). If there is adequate recovery in response, then a positive resistance response happens and regeneration occurs i.e. a super-compensation effect (fitness), (Bompa, 1983, Budgett, 1990, Morton, 1997 and Turner and Comfort, 2019).

However, if the stress is greater than the physical adaptive capabilities, exhaustion occurs. If exhaustion is increased then susceptibility to injury will increase also. We as individuals need to hold ourselves accountable and have a good understanding of our own levels of fatigue and exhaustion. The unloading/recovery phase of our training needs to be more important than our ‘loading’ phase. The unloading phase reduces accumulated fatigue, thereby allowing adaptations to manifest (Haff, 2004a; Haff 2004b; Plisk and Stone, 2003).

Biological maladaptation through cycles of excessive loading / inadequate recovery (Turner and Comfort, 2018) adapted from (Meeusen et at. 2013 and Soligard et al. 2016).

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Currently there is a large stipulation over the fitness-fatigue paradigm and its importance to periodisation, but according to this paradigm, (Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, 2006) state that preparedness for sports may be evaluated based on the principle after-effects of training: fitness and fatigue. Therefore, we must pay attention to how we feel before after and during each session, each week and especially to our recovery/rest times in comparison to our output. Turner and Comfort (2018) suggest that if you are too tired or fatigued to repeat the same exercise with acceptable quality, you must still be able to perform an alternative exercise to satisfaction. Therefore, do not risk the next repetition if the form/quality has dissipated, you are training not competing for a prize use another exercise if necessary.

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 Recovery and adaptation should be of the upmost importance when you think about beginning any training block, periodisation or just starting out at the gym. Mesocycles allow you to block program and manage your training. They are usually arranged in a 3:1 loading or volume paradigm, whereby the load (volume/intensity depending on the goals of the phase) are gradually increased and then tapered to allow for super-compensation to occur and homeostasis to return.