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High training workloads alone do not cause sports injuries: how you get there is the real issue
  1. Tim J Gabbett1,2,
  2. Billy T Hulin3,
  3. Peter Blanch4,5,
  4. Rod Whiteley6
  1. 1School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Centre for Human and Applied Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4High Performance Unit, Essendon Football Club, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  6. 6Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tim J Gabbett, School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, 1100 Nudgee Road, Brisbane, QLD 4014, Australia; tim_gabbett{at}

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Goldilocks approach to training—not too little, not too much

Clinicians or strength and conditioning professionals who prescribe training workloads aim for workloads that are high enough to improve fitness (ie, performance), but not so high as to risk injury. At the extremes, no training results in an unprepared athlete, whereas an overuse injury is, by definition, an error in training prescription.1 Banister et al2 first described an athlete's training state as the difference between positive (ie, ‘fitness’) and negative (ie, ‘fatigue’) influences. To quantify this concept, ‘fitness’ was represented as the workload (an arbitrary ‘training impulse’) of the athlete over a 3–6 weeks period and ‘fatigue’ was represented by the workload performed over a shorter time frame of 1 week. We recommend the terms ‘chronic workload’ for the longer window of training (ie, Banister's ‘fitness’) and ‘acute workload’ for the immediate window of training (ie, Banister's ‘fatigue’) (figure 1). High chronic workloads (ie, intense training), combined with reductions in acute workloads before important competition (ie, taper), would be expected to improve sporting performance.2

Figure 1

Acute and chronic workloads and the calculation of the acute:chronic workload ratio as a …

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  • Contributors The initial concepts and drafts were formulated by TJG. BTH, PB and RW contributed equally to several drafts of the editorial.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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