Monitoring Load and Recovery in Athletes: Importance and Methods


Athletes must balance training load and rest to achieve progress and prevent injury. Monitoring training load, athlete recovery, and performance development is essential to achieve this balance. Monitoring can provide important information on how training load and rest should be adjusted to achieve progress. Both objective and subjective measures can aid monitoring, including performance, blood tests, questionnaires, and RPE.

Adequate sleep, sufficient energy intake, and restorative low-intensity exercise are means of recovery for athletes. However, daily or weekly performance testing can be impractical, so subjective measures such as motivation to train, general well-being, fatigue, sleep, and physical recovery (performance) can also be useful in monitoring acute changes in athlete well-being (Saw et al. 2016).

Overtraining syndrome in an athlete result from overreaching in relation to recovery. Symptoms associated with the overtraining syndrome include reduced performance, insomnia or sleep disturbances, fatigue, lack of energy, increased negative emotions and decreased positive emotions, inability to concentrate, menstrual and sexual dysfunction, and recurrent symptoms of infection. If an athlete has been experiencing symptoms related to overtraining for weeks after deload or rest, the athlete should always consult with the doctor.

Athletes' workload and recovery are also influenced by many external factors such as study/work stress, sleep disturbances, etc.; therefore, these can also be useful to monitor. One practical tool for monitoring athletes is the training diary. The training diary can be used to monitor athletes' subjective feelings and performance. Athletes can monitor the workload of a single exercise using the RPE scale. The perceived exertion of the exercise is assessed on a scale of 0-10 (0=rest, 10=maximum) approximately half an hour after the end of the exercise. The athlete can also rate perceived recovery on the same scale, where 10 = "very well recovered" and 0 = "very poorly recovered." The recovery assessment should be done before training.

In conclusion, athletes must monitor load and recovery to achieve progress and prevent injury. Athletes can use subjective measures such as RPE, the training diary, and objective measures to monitor their workload and recovery. This information can then be used to adjust training load and rest to achieve progress and prevent training plateau or injury.


Meeusen, R., Duclos, M., Foster, C., Fry, A., Gleeson, M., Nieman, D., & Raglin, J. (2013). Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(1), 186-205.

Saw, A. E., Main, L. C., & Gastin, P. B. (2016). Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine, 50(5), 281-291.

Uusitalo, A. L. (2001). Overtraining: making a difficult diagnosis and implementing targeted treatment. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 29(5), 35-50.