Many coaches and sports organizations are taking a scientific approach to both designing programs and monitoring athlete performance. What they have discovered is that monitoring training load can help determine whether an athlete is adapting to a training program and can help minimize the risk of non-impact soft tissue injury.
The relationship between the performance of an athlete and the load they have experienced is represented by the figure below. One factor that influences the ability for the athlete to achieve a given out for a given physiological load is fatigue. It can be difficult to compare the stress and load placed on an athlete based on performance output metrics alone such as distance or accumulated acceleration. Different athletes will respond differently to a given distance or total acceleration based on their strengths, technique and efficiency.
Athos has developed garments with distributed sensors that measure the activation of specific muscles throughout the upper and lower body. We use the accumulation of this activation to determine training load. Training load is a direct proxy of the accumulated stress or internal load placed on the muscle and this is highly correlated with the output force.
To demonstrate how Athos is used to measure the stress placed on the body and how this changes with fatigue, we exposed athletes two identical exercises under to conditions of fatigue: totally rested and fatigued. We measured Athos muscle activity as well as the torque and force generated by the athlete.
What we found was that higher EMG activation was required to complete the exercise at a higher level of fatigue.
Athletes need to increase activation when fatigued and this translated into a higher demand placed on the athlete. This tells us that the Athos training load represents the physiological demand placed on specific muscle groups of the athlete. Coaches can use this information to understand how their programming is affecting their athletes and how the programming can be personalized to achieve specific performance goals.
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