Training Load and Acute Performance Decrements Following Different Training Sessions

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2023 Jan 30;18(3):284-292. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2022-0157. Print 2023 Mar 1.


Purpose: To examine the differences in training load (TL) metrics when quantifying training sessions differing in intensity and duration. The relationship between the TL metrics and the acute performance decrement measured immediately after the sessions was also assessed.

Methods: Eleven male recreational cyclists performed 4 training sessions in a random order, immediately followed by a 3-km time trial (TT). Before this period, participants performed the time TT in order to obtain a baseline performance. The difference in the average power output for the TTs following the training sessions was then expressed relative to the best baseline performance. The training sessions were quantified using 7 different TL metrics, 4 using heart rate as input, 2 using power output, and 1 using the rating of perceived exertion.

Results: The load of the sessions was estimated differently depending on the TL metrics used. Also, within the metrics using the same input (heart rate and power), differences were found. TL using the rating of perceived exertion was the only metric showing a response that was consistent with the acute performance decrements found for the different training sessions. The Training Stress Score and the individualized training impulse demonstrated similar patterns but overexpressed the intensity of the training sessions. The total work done resulted in an overrepresentation of the duration of training.

Conclusion: TL metrics provide dissimilar results as to which training sessions have higher loads. The load based on TL using the rating of perceived exertion was the only one in line with the acute performance decrements found in this study.

Keywords: cycling; interval; quantification; training impulse; training stress.

MeSH terms

  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Human* / methods
  • Physical Exertion / physiology