Understanding Athlete Training Load: The Benefits of Real-Time Monitoring

Alastair Davidson

Alastair DavidsonContent Specialist, Firstbeat

Sports Coaching

firstbeat training load

The end goal of any training plan is to make sure players are ready to perform at the peak of their abilities come game day. A big part of this is making sure individuals – and the squad as a whole – are being worked at the appropriate level without risking injury through overtraining.

Monitoring the internal load of athletes during training is an effective way of doing just that. Real-time monitoring offers insights that inform decisions like adjusting the intensity and layout of the ongoing practice to make sure predetermined targets are met. Real-time feedback is also a great tool to inform players about their effort, motivate individuals, and turn findings into immediate actions.

With Firstbeat Sports, you can monitor intensity and watch a variety of training load metrics such as TRIMP and Training Effect accumulate in real time. The analytic engine is supported by a Radio Frequency-based telemetry system which ensures accurate data transmission. The ability to monitor up to a hundred athletes simultaneously with exceptional range of up to 200 meters gives Firstbeat Sports a significant advantage compared to Bluetooth-based solutions.

Real-time monitoring during training helps you…

Track Intensity…

Are players reaching their peak heart rates during high intensity drills? Is an ‘easy’ training session having the desired effect on an individual player, or is it pushing them harder than anticipated?

The Firstbeat Sports dashboard uses a customizable color-coding system to show how hard each individual is being worked at any given moment. This ranges from green (indicating time spent at low intensity) through to red, where %HRMax is above 90 percent.

Recovery Heart Rate…

Tracking a player for an entire session allows you to see how quickly their heart rate slows during a planned break in the session. This provides a good indication of a player’s ability to recover and lets you easily compare how different players respond to the load placed upon them. It also lets you see if built-in recovery breaks are the correct length.

Pre-Game Workouts…

Training sessions the day before games are typically performed at a lower intensity to prevent fatigue ahead of the game itself. Real-time monitoring lets you identify players who have reached cumulative load targets set by coaching staff before practice and remove them from the session/a specific drill to preserve them for game day.

In Hard Practice…

When a hard practice has been planned, you want to make sure it does what it says on the tin. Monitoring Training Effect in real time lets you do this.

Firstbeat Sports’ Training Effect algorithm lets you track which physiological performance characteristics, and to what extent, have been trained, i.e. aerobic and anaerobic Training Effects. Having access to individual Training Effect scores lets you see whether a player has been pushed enough so that he/she will benefit and improve their fitness moving forward.


By inviting players to view the dashboard at certain times during practice, or in a gym session, this can motivate them to kick on and improve training standards. Athletes, by their nature, are competitive. When it is appropriate, showing their data in comparison to teammates plays on this and can increase motivation.

“Because Firstbeat’s system can show everyone’s results on one page you do get increased competition and that does help drive training standards.”Tom Sherriff, Lead Sports Scientist, Saracens RFC.


Context is key. Data in an isolated drill/session must be appreciated in the context of wider workload and the previous data collected so that an effective and correct decision can be made.

This text originally featured in the Firstbeat guide, Understanding the Athlete Training Load. To find out more about real-time monitoring and how to effectively understand and track internal training load download your free copy now:

Download our free guide to “Understanding the Athlete Trainind Load”

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Alastair Davidson

Alastair Davidson Content Specialist, Firstbeat

Alastair is a Content Specialist who has previously worked in sports journalism and tech communication. These experiences now help him create unique content about Firstbeat's role in sports and wellness in the form of blogs and case studies. An avid sports fans, Alastair continues to play football in his native U.K., and enjoys keeping up with the latest wellness trends.

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