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When progressing training loads, what are the considerations for healthy and injured athletes?
  1. Tim Gabbett1,2,
  2. Igor Sancho3,4,
  3. Bart Dingenen5,
  4. Richard W Willy6
  1. 1 Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 Centre for Health Research, University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3 Sports and Exercise Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  4. 4 Physiotherapy Department, University of Deusto, San Sebastian, Spain
  5. 5 Reval Rehabilitation Research Centre, Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
  6. 6 Physical Therapy and Movement Science, University of Montana Missoula, Missoula, Montana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Tim Gabbett, Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, QLD 4011, Australia; tim{at}

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Every sport requires specific physical capacities to enable success and minimise injury risk. For instance, a competitive runner requires adequate muscular force production to counter ground reaction forces for a single step at a given speed (local tissue capacity), and the muscular and cardiovascular endurance to tolerate the accumulation of steps for the time and distance of the event (sport-specific capacity). Failing to adequately develop these physical qualities may result in underperformance and/or increased injury risk. In this editorial we explore how to optimally monitor and progress training loads to improve local tissue and sport-specific capacity.

Understanding the interplay between sport-specific and local tissue capacity

When referring to load capacity, sport-specific capacity is defined as the athlete’s ability to perform (and withstand) the demands of training and competition, whereas local tissue capacity is defined as a specific structure’s ability to withstand tissue-specific cumulative load.1 In healthy athletes, training load quantification focuses on the athlete’s sport-specific capacity and not on one’s specific local tissue capacity. Progressively applied sport-specific training load improves an athlete’s physical capacities (eg, strength, power and endurance) and performance.2 Conversely, injury risk increases if training loads grossly exceed the athlete’s current local tissue capacity.3 Thus, increasing local tissue capacity as a component of the training cycle can decrease injury risk.

Optimal loading of local tissue capacity and sport-specific capacity for healthy and injured athletes

Loading for healthy athletes is designed to improve sport-specific capacity, …

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. A typographical error in figure 1 has been corrected.

  • Contributors TG and IS drafted the initial manuscript. All authors contributed equally to subsequent versions of the manuscript.

  • 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 TG works as a consultant to several high-performance organisations, including sporting teams, industry, military and higher education institutions. He serves in a voluntary capacity as Senior Associate Editor of BJSM.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.