Friday, 4 March 2016

Training Load Conference In Aspire

Last week we held a fantastic conference at Aspire: "Monitoring Athlete Training Loads, the Hows and Whys". We had attendees from all over the World and a pretty amazing line up of speakers, so I considered it a privilege to be able to give an overview of my experiences to the audience in the company of pretty amazing sports scientists.

The opening keynote was provided by Professor Carl Foster who gave an excellent overview of this area starting from his initial papers describing the session RPE method ending to recent papers using mathematical models as well as some aspects about how he sees the future of this field.

3 days full of activities followed with invited speakers, young investigators and free papers. The invited speakers were:




  • Prof. Carl Foster (USA) 
  • Dr. Dave Martin (AUS) 
  • Dr. Stephen Seiler (NOR) 
  • Dr. Bill Sands (USA) 
  • Dr. Darren Burgess (AUS)
  • Prof. Martin Buchheit (FRA)
  • Dr. Marco Cardinale (QAT) 
  • Prof. Aaron Coutts (AUS)
  • Dr. Tim Gabbett (AUS)
  • Assoc. Prof. Inigo Mujika (ESP)
  • Prof. Warren Gregson (QAT) 
  • Dr. Alberto Mendes-Villanueva (QAT)
  • Dr. Michael Kellmann (GER)
  • Mr. Andrew Murray (QAT)
  • Mr. Rod Whiteley (QAT)
  • Dr. Jos J. de Koning (NED)
  • Dr. Matthew Varley (QAT


  • Training monitoring was discussed within various sporting contexts: individual sports, team sports, combat and acrobatic sports as well as technologies and psychometric tools, mathematical models and injury prevention.

    We will provide online access to all the talks of the conference soon on the Aspire Academy website (www.aspire.qa) and we have agreed to publish a special issue of the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance with all the papers from the conference and mini/extended reviews of this area to make sure that we can capture and disseminate all the knowledge exchanged and acquired over the 3 days.

    In summary there was a lot of talk about the simple use of session RPE and how it could be used not only to track training load in many sports but also how it can be used to assess the likelihood of injuries in some sporting groups. Many (myself included) raised some issues with using just this measure as it is strongly biased by training duration and does not provide enough information to be able to change the content of the training. All speakers tended to agree that training monitoring needs an holistic approach with various measures used also according to the sport analysed, and the concept of dose-response it is something we need to revisit as many individual training sessions are prescribed without understanding the responses such sessions trigger. New technologies were discussed in terms of their validity and reliability and it was clear that too many manufacturers are too keen to sell and not keen to make sure their products are valid and reliable as well as having mostly black box approaches in which it is impossible or very difficult to extract raw data for advanced analytical capabilities. Finally, there was a call for standardisation of data collections as even in simple tools like RPE various scales are used also in various languages and not validated which permeate the literature and man felt this makes it difficult to compare studies conducted in various countries. The translation aspect of other psychometric tools was highlighted by Prof. Kellman which clearly stated that literal translation may not be appropriate in some countries as specific terms (and therefore anchors used in psychometric tools) might have a completely different meaning in the sociocultural context in which they are translated from English. Definitively more work is needed to a true international standardisation of many psychometric tools and visual analog scales.

    My prezi is available here (no voice):


    The conference attracted a lot of interest in social media and was trending on Twitter every single day. I have collected the most significant tweets and reactions in a storify file to facilitate access and it is accessible below.






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