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Relationships between load, load capacity, performance and health are topics of contemporary interest. At what intensity should an athlete train to achieve the best physiological response? How much (or little) can an athlete train without detrimentally affecting health? Most studies addressing such questions have used a reductionist approach wherein factors were studied in isolation, thereby ignoring the complex inter-relationships and balance between factors. This editorial discusses the association between load and load capacity, and their relationship with athlete performance and health. We illustrate the practical use of a model for the management of athlete performance and health, and provide directions for future practice and research.
A balancing act
Figure 1 shows the intertwined relationships between load, load capacity, performance and health. To stimulate adaptation the basic principle of any training programme is to apply a load (ie, the amount of mechanical, physiological or mental stress) through training or competition that is greater than an athlete’s current load capacity (ie, the ability to tolerate load).1 With the optimal balance between both constructs, an appropriate training stimulus will …
Contributors All authors contributed equally to the inception, thinking and writing for this editorial.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests TJG works as a consultant to several high performance organisations, including sporting teams, industry, military and higher education institutions. Both authors serve in a voluntary capacity as Senior Associate Editors of BJSM.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.